Ask Marvin

Shockingly a work colleague called me a “dick”. How do I make them realise the hurt this office insult caused?

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I recently experienced an office insult when a work colleague called me a “dick”. At the time I laughed it off, but over the last few days it’s bugged me badly, and now I think I should do something about it. I don’t want to report the colleague as I don’t want to be a snitch. However I would like to say or do something that makes her realise that her office insult has hurt me.

Marvin’s answer:

I would be interested to know in what context she made this office insult. Were you actually being a dick, or were you simply being you and she just doesn’t get you?

You see context is everything, especially with office insults. Being called a dick in some circumstances could be taken as a compliment, not a negative. For example, “big swinging dick” can sometimes be seen as positive, especially if it’s in a more private setting.

I’m guessing here though it wasn’t meant in that context, as that might be a very different story (see ‘affair with my boss‘). In which case my advice is not to get engaged in a war of words. Going back and saying “tit” to your colleague could be taken out of context and land you in HR hell, especially if you just walk up and shout it across the office.

You could try to ignore it. Brush it off. Pretend you found the insult funny. But that may not work if you’re the sort of dick who overthinks what people say about you.

office insult ignore it
Ignore insults

Equally, messing up her desk, although sometimes effective for a laugh, won’t send the desired message and she probably won’t know why it was done.

Be grown up with your work colleague

You need to be grown up about your response to any office insult. If you can’t handle face-to-face, send an email or IM explaining that you thought her comment was harsh. Offer your colleague the chance to apologise.

If that fails, unscrew one of the castors on the bottom of her chair and wait around until it falls off. Then laugh hysterically and say “who’s the dick now?” and walk off. As long as there’s no lasting physical damage you should be OK.

An office insult can be hurtful

At least that might make you feel better. And my advice is good. Monster have come up with some tips to responding to office insults that pretty much align with mine. Except the breaking the chair one.

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