How do you deal with disrespectful people at your workplace?
There is a woman I work with. I have a normal relation with her, but she is a political fanatic and rabidly anti-Catholic. Every lunch time or coffe break she starts a tirade on party politics. She spends part of her working day reading partisan political blogs and then she spews it all out undigested at lunch time. For her politics is like sports, an excuse to root for her team and let off steam.
I try to make her understand she can’t see the philosophical forest for the trees of party politics and try myself to reconduct the debate from petty politics to a philosophical perspective, but she’s so fired up the message doesn’t get through.
I normally have the policy of not talking politics at work, so I could be the bigger man and politely ignore her, but I would be a bad Catholic if I kept quiet while I hear such profanities.
I could use a tu quoque and be offensive to things she holds dear (God knows I’m good at that), but that would be childish.
I could avoid her altogether, but it’s not worth it cutting social ties with my co-workers.
I could tell her to stop it, but it would only add unnecessary tension and melodrama.
How do you deal with people like that?
Sometimes you have to set boundaries.
She sounds closed minded, so any logical argument you make will be dismissed. I suggest you tell her to cut the crap, at least with the anti-Catholic rhetoric. Admonish her in private though; no one likes to be chewed out in front of other people. Be firm as well. I wouldn't bother addressing her political views unless they're intertwined with her anti-Catholic thoughts. If she doesn't cut it out report her to your boss or HR.
Normally I would say just ignore it all together. It's like feeding a troll on the internet- they go away if you ignore them. But in this situation its scandal because other people are only hearing one side and their thoughts could be turned. Sometimes you have to take a stand, and I'd say this is one of those times.
How large is your company? Is there an HR department?
This looks like good advice:
I don't think you have to counter every rant. When a heretic appears in Christian Men, I try to counter only to display the heresy, I'm not really arguing, I'm trying to put forth other ideas for those reading. I'll let a great falsehood be the last word if the person has already shown he's unreasonable, etc. [or this is what I'm trying to learn to do] Same with work. I will quietly say, "I feel differently" or "Actually, _I_ believe or do that "crazy" thing." The point is to let others know that intelligent, sincere religious people exist, indeed, work at this office, not to directly convince my co-workers of anything.
I had a relative on Facebook who was ranting -- at me, not generally -- about how I obviously did not care one iota about anybody who was a woman or a child, because I didn't think Planned Parenthood needed federal funding. Yeah, go figure. My response was,
I'm surprised to hear that from you. Surely you know me better than that.
She: It's fine for me to give my opinions. I don't try to stop anybody else, either.
Me: Maybe it would be better to give those views without saying hurtful things about those who love you.
She deleted the thread.
So, I'd say: handled.
You don't have a family relationship, but I think a similar approach could work. Keeping in mind that it is a work situation, and if someone says something that will be reported to the boss as a civil rights issue, it should be her.
Thanks a lot for your replies.
I work in a big company. I don’t know if there is a corporate policy on political/religious talk, but reporting her for something that’s outside the realm of work is a line a strongly refuse to cross.
It’s not my feelings I care about – I'm thick skinned. It’s the fact that her poisonous propaganda should be left unchallenged. To refute her means getting involved in a debate, and that's a big effort on my part, such is the unsophisticated nature of her thinking, and frankly the last thing I want to do in my breaks is exhausting myself in heated debates.
reporting her for something that’s outside the realm of work is a line a strongly refuse to cross.
That is EXACTLY what you SHOULD do. If you work for a big corporation with a US presence I'm really surprised you haven't had to sit through at least one of those interminable harassment in the workplace classes. There IS a policy against this type of political/religious talk. If it makes you feel uncomfortable it is against the policy.
Your situation is a textbook example of non-sexual workplace harassment. You have a responsibility to report this to your supervisor. Your supervisor then has a responsibility to report it to HR.
It is not your responsibility to challenge or refute her. In fact this is exactly what you do not want to do. If you debate her then you are as guilty of creating a hostile workplace as she is.
Your mileage may vary. Professional driver on closed course. Do not try this at home.
Every time you have to listen to the rant, do the Trappist thing. Think or mutter, "This for Jesus."
Google "Workplace Harrassment". Go to the EEOC page. If the ranter knows you're Catholic and does repeated hostile anti-Catholic rants in your presence, that could literally make her behavior a federal offense. (Creating a hostile work environment.) Could also be that the boss doesn't know about the religious rants. (Don't bring up accusation about the web-surfing!) Document your meeting. If the boss knows about the lunch room rants, and they continues, that makes any formal complaint you may a more serious matter.