At odds with colleague

Postby ddx17 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:51 pm

Hello all. I'm a freelance programmer and I have a senior colleague whose been at odds with me at my new company. He’s extremely judgmental and has made derogatory comments about my race. He’s a homosexual Chinese-American and has a clear aversion to European Americans. I feel like I’m being judged every time I’m around him and I’m rarely comfortable communicating to him or anyone else when he’s around.

He's called my supervisor a racist redneck for being a white Southerner, he has mocked other caucasians in our office and on the street for white mannerisms and clothing and he has generalized rural America as being being racist and less-intelligent. He acts as though Asians are being oppressed in this country and he shows favoritism towards SE Asians in the office who are also the majority - inviting them to lunch and giving them better projects. He is hyper critical of my work and will often overemphasize minor issues in order to attack me. Some of these mistakes are of his own prevarication.

For example, last week a Vietnamese worker made multiple mistakes on a project that rendered his work useless. With his hours wasted and a portion of the budget lost, they had to recreate his work from the ground up. In return, he received a light-hearted warning and my colleagues were joking and socializing with him immediately afterward as though nothing happened.

That same week I created a file that, according to him, was incorrectly named (a mistake that takes a few seconds to fix). He not only reported my mistake to a supervisor, he also blasted me in an email and threatened to sever ties if I made this mistake again. Mind you, there is no rule for file-naming conventions at my company and whether or not I was actually in the wrong is hearsay.

On another occasion, when I was a few hours late to work due to a death in the family, he criticized me behind my back to my boss for coming in late.

To characterize his personality:

1. He’s cranky, angry, and judgmental - like a spoiled child on the verge of a tantrum.
2. He excludes me from social situations (lunches, meetings, etc.) and punishes other employees for socializing with me. In fact, he is so intrusive that it is nearly impossible to converse with my supervisor without him entering our office and interrupting our conversation.
3. He is blatant and unapologetically racist toward people of European decent.
4. He gives unparalleled favoritism towards SE Asians, giving them the best assignments and forming a sort of exclusive social clique.
5. He loves the spotlight and possesses the qualities of someone with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

I know there maybe some skepticism as to whether my behavior is the cause which is understandable. However I’ve freelanced with other companies before and I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve experienced this problem. My last four companies were extremely diverse and friendly towards me.

I have made multiple attempts to develop a professional relationship with him. Almost all of my attempts were shot down. There are two other European Americans in the office have experienced similar treatment. One even complained to my boss that they “clearly don’t like her” to use her own words.

I’ve already tried peace offerings and kindness however I don’t want to reward his racist behavior with niceness. How do I communicate with him without sending him the message that his cranky and racist behavior is okay?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:14 pm

The key to this problem is your fear. You don't want to get fired?

How do you communicate to a person their behavior is not okay? If you were the boss, short of firing the person, what would you do? You would have a private conversation and line them out. You would argue, yell, and in no uncertain terms explain that they better watch their behavior moving forward.

But, you are not the boss. You are a colleague. So what? You can still be a leader and step up to challenge and conflict with this colleague. Stand up for yourself. There is nothing that says you must get along with everyone at work. You can be professional and still go at it with other colleagues.

What I would do is go to your supervisor and explain that you and this "senior colleague" are about to professionally have it out. You explain to your supervisor you expect his or her support. If the supervisor warns against a confrontation with this colleague then you tell the supervisor they need to handle it. If not, you will. You can't be afraid. If you are afraid of your supervisor or boss, then there is not much you can do.

Don't avoid conflict. It can be healthy.
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#2

Postby ddx17 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:08 am

Thanks @Richard@DecisionSkills . I think you're right, I'm just outnumbered 10 to 1. They're all united under the pretense of the their Asian-ness and I'm oppressive white man. Ironic because without Europe Japan and Hong Kong would be in the same boat as the rest of SE Asia - a 3rd world crap hole.
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