The gruesome twosome at work are really grinding my gears.
I recently scored an entry-level job at a prestigious marketing company that’s a little on the old-fashioned side. I moved here from a young and fun start-up, so culture wise it’s been an adjustment, to put it lightly. With that said, the vast majority of my colleagues are lovely – of course, as always, there are a couple of wagons and I’m finding my patience is really tested with one particular pair I’ve found here.
They’re about twice and four times my age respectively and equally ahead of me hierarchy wise. They’re unavoidable in the office kitchen and love to dominate the conversation with either super boring stories about the latest fads in compost (in the case of the elderly gentleman) or with condescending one-way lectures on current affairs (the middle aged female).
This week it all came to a head when they thought I was disagreeing with them on a political issue and launched into a very patronising and unnecessary ten minute lesson on why I was wrong, and what they hope I will learn as I progress in my career. I pretty much just sat there and took it because – well, what are you going to say to your new, much more senior colleagues who are not expressing much openness to any sort of debate or alternative point of view? I felt humiliated.
I have lost respect for them and I don’t think their actions reflect well on the company. How should I proceed?
All the best,
Hi Andrew,I really empathise with you here because I find the type of people you describe very difficult to deal with.As people get very settled in hierarchical companies, they slowly start to believe that all their glitter is gold. The longer they are there, the more institutionalized they become; the more reference they are given; the more they are allowed to swing their dicks around. It sounds like this is the case with the gruesome twosome you are dealing with – their egos have fattened.It’s degrading to have senior colleagues dismiss your opinions and experience. Everyone believes that their opinion is right, but these two seem to be disrespectful.It's their loss and I hope you can keep your openness and good spirit.
They’ve been around a while and surely learned a lot, but you also have a lot to offer – a different life experience and a fresh set of eyes, if nothing else – it sounds like they’re not taking advantage of that.
Well done on managing so far without losing your cool. It's very hard to find a balance between being kind and humouring stubborn colleagues, while not losing yourself or submitting to them completely. You should not have to diminish yourself to let others shine.
Their behaviour is likely a misguided combination of them genuinely trying to look out for you as someone they see as a young newbie, and also maybe putting you in your place a little bit. Especially if they can see that you’re strong and have opinions and are not afraid of them.
I think the best way forward is to reduce engagement in situations where you expect a conflict. Avoid them in the kitchen (to a reasonable degree), and if you are engaged, continue to be polite and respectful. But don’t feel like you need to lick their dicks – stay firm in your convictions. If tensions rise, feel free to calmly state that you prefer not to have these types of discussions with colleagues; everyone has different opinions which are equally valid. Then change the conversation.
I would advise you to begin noting all of the incidents down, and confide in good friends or a trusted colleague (if you have one). Hopefully it won’t escalate but in the event that it does, you will be ready with the facts to protect yourself.
They really shouldn’t be engaging in politicised discussions in the workplace and they really should be aware of this, but clearly they are oblivious and this behaviour is likely to continue. So just forget about it. You are in a great position and this is just the beginning of your work journey.
Try to appreciate the good in your current position, and fuck these goons.
Editor’s note – letters are edited for clarity and to preserve the anonymity of the writers and their subjects. If you’d like our advice, please email your letter directly to email@example.com