Upsetting comments from coworkers

I work in an office around other coworkers. I came in today and I could tell everyone around me was working or on a call with a client so I sat down, clocked in, and got to work. About 10 minutes later, the coworker accross from me make’s comments about how they didn’t notice I came, she asks “when did you sneak in?” And another coworker she’s close to proceeds to explain how “she’s so quiet”. I was getting a call as this was all going down. They’re comments made me feel uncomfortable and ostracized. I thought about letting them know but I don’t understand how anyone could think those types of comments are appropriate or that they wouldn’t make someone uncomfortable. That’s like me commenting on how someone is too loud or too black or something else about them they can’t change. It has made me reconsider working at this place and I almost felt like walking out.


I think the first one asking when you snuck in was meant more of as a joke since everyone was busy but the other people talking about you as if u don’t exist is just pure a-hole behavior

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Hey I’m sorry those comments made you feel uncomfortable. I think people say things like that as a colloquial type of chit chat. When you don’t notice someone it’s common to refer to them as sneaking in or to say “wow you’re quiet! You snuck up on me!”. I don’t think they personally meant it as harmful, but I understand that sometimes when we aren’t close to people things they say that might be to them off hand comments, aren’t always welcome.

Have you had a general feeling of uncomfortableness already with these people?

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Those comments are some of the most commonly heard things in the workplace. They are pretty much reflexive, and have as much significance as things like “long time no see,” or “speak of the devil.” There’s another one, “I’ll see you.” then the answer is, “not if I see you first.”

It has to be uncomfortable for those who aren’t familiar with such behavior. It’s even worse for those from other cultures.

You can think up some responses for the next time it happens. For example, “I wasn’t sneaking. You were just working so hard that you didn’t notice me.”

I think the opposite was intended. Generally, such comments are a message of inclusion. Those who are ostracized are usually ignored.

I’m sorry you’ve been receiving those comments, @Bobohobo. At least, the “she’s so quiet” is the type of comment that can be really harmful and upsetting in the long run, especially if you’ve been used to hear it over and over.

I heard that one throughout my life… being asked to speak louder, being told that I was invisible and unnoticed because I was “too quiet”, the “jokes” about it, being asked to be more expressive or extroverted as otherwise people think I’m rude. But since when is it a fault to be quiet? “Beware of the quiet ones, as the saying goes” – just doesn’t make sense. Especially as many people are quiet because they learned it as the only way for them to feel safe when being in the presence with others.

We live in a world where being loud, being heard and being seen are perceived as qualities, while there are pros and cons on both sides of the quiet ↔ loud spectrum. You being you is enough in itself, and you certainly don’t have to change or feel bad because others’ expectations of you just don’t match.

Of course, I don’t know the entire context of your relationships with your coworkers. Maybe they were gently joking, or maybe they were taunting you to see if you’d react. Still I hear your frustration and discomfort there. If someone is quiet, then it doesn’t have to be explicitly stated as if they needed to change who they are. Being quiet is just fine. And you being you, is more than fine. :hrtlegolove: