I'm in an office with a man who has mental problems. He can be very kind and very funny, but he hates being told what to do. He's started clicking his pen which drives me insane. I hate being like this but I can't stop it upsetting me. I've told him it's annoying, but he carries on. On Friday I was particularly sensitive as it had been such a stressful week and I was frazzled. I asked what that noise was, as I didn't want to say directly that it was annoying me as that annoys him. He said that it was him. I did say that's annoying. He KNOWS it annoys me! He didn't stop. Then he got up to get something off the printer and while he was waiting for the print he had his pen with him, which isn't usual, and carried on clicking.
Also, he sometimes puts music on his phone, even though he knows I hate it. It's down low but there's that awful scratchy sound that makes my head tighten up. He wears earphones to play his music so I don't know why he does this.
I've had a lot of support at work, to help me with my disability, so I'm worried people think it's all about me. It's not. I just find the world so overwhelming and being with this man, and the job being intense, and my manager micro-managing, I'm on tenterhooks all the time.
I'm mean, jeez, I'm 55 years old and I feel like a 5 -year-old!
But am I being paranoid that my colleague is deliberately winding me up, being disrespectful and resentful?
I understand where you're coming from. I find this kind of thing irritating, too - even though I do it myself. I tap my fingers, or I'll drum something on the desk top. It's a kind of stimming thing with me. When people draw my attention to it, though, I generally stop. The earphones buzzing, though - and people talking on phones - really gets to me.
When you say he has 'mental problems' - can you elaborate? Is he diagnosed with a condition, as you are?
It's not an easy situation to resolve, and I've been in similar with deliberate bullying by someone. When I told them about it, it became worse - even though I spoke to them politely and rationally. In the end, I had to take it further and report them. If he doesn't respond to your requests, there's little else you can do. If they've been supportive of you in the past, they should be receptive to your complaint.
In my case, I was eventually moved to another office. The person involved was resentful, though, and didn't miss an opportunity to make snide remarks to me if we passed in a corridor, etc. Not nice. In the end, I left the job. Hopefully, it won't come to that for you.
It seems that you've done all you can in speaking to him. It sounds like he's being unreasonable.
Thanks Martian Tom. I know he's hyperactive but undiagnosed. He's also a bit of a depressive and gets rages at home where he blames himself for everything. He's also been suicidal. I care deeply for everyone so I don't want to hurt him. But at the same time disrespect is something that tortures me. I've been toying with the idea of moving to an office on my own but that opens a can of worms:
1. My work is paying for noise-cancelling headphones (but I don't want to wear them all day!)
2. It separates me from the team which is physiologically bad.
3. My colleague, who's a superior, won't be available to talk to so easily, and I sometimes need his advice, often asking him to come over to my PC.
Hi Alexandra. I often feel like a 5 year old too. It’s great isn’t it. It’s one of the things about autism that I love, that we never grow up, not in the nt way anyway. We’re very lucky.
So what I’m hearing is that you’re currently experiencing overwhelm due to the way you process life and the world around you. On top of finding the world overwhelming, you are also finding the sanctuary of your work life particularly difficult to cope with as well just now, and you’re on tender hooks all the time. Do you mean you’re on tenderhooks all the time you’re at work, or at home and everywhere else as well? Or is it just when you’re at work? ~ that part isn’t clear.
I doubt that this man is deliberately trying to wind you up, and even if he is, I suspect that it is linked to the difficulties he has with his mental health. I don’t see what he’s doing as disrespectful. Maybe he resents being micromanaged by you. You seem to be very aware of his every move, even noticing whether he takes his pen with him when he leaves his desk. He must feel like he’s in a fish bowl, having his every move observed and criticised. Maybe you could try to be more helpful to him, if he has an attachment to his pen more than usual, maybe he’s feeling overwhelmed as well, you could maybe be able to help each other or maybe the pen, radio and headphones are all he needs and in that case, maybe you could focus on your needs.
For example, what is it that is making you feel so overwhelmed? If you are not feeling overwhelmed are you able to share an office with this man without the need to monitor his moves? Or is it simply not a good match. If it isn’t a good match then it isn’t going to work because if he stops clicking his pen to help you and that was one of his coping mechanisms, then he’s going to need an alternative coping mechanism, so it will pay for you two to work together on this.
Is it a new thing for your boss to micro manage you? If so, what elements of his approach is not helpful to you? If you are clear about that, you could approach him and ask him if he would discuss this with you so you are better able to carry out your work.
There seems to be several things going on and it’s not clear what the cause is. If it’s sharing an office with this guy then a move, for one of you might be necessary. If you work in the office, full time, five days a week, it would be better if you share the office with peoples who’s company you enjoy, if that’s important to you. Or is it more important for you to work in solitude? It’s not clear.
Is it a condition that you can only have the headphones if you agree to wearing them for the whole time that you’re at work?
In what way do the headphones separate you from your colleagues?
I’m not sure I understand your third point. If you wear the headphones, one of your colleagues who supports you, will suddenly become unavailable to talk to??? Is that what you’re saying? Has he got a phobia about talking to people wearing headphones? If that’s the case, I guess you could ask for a clause in your agreement for the headphones, that you are allowed to take them off for the purpose of speaking to that colleague as his input is crucial to you performing your tasks? Seems like a reasonable request.
I'll try to answer all that! :D. I'm very worried about what people think of me as I have a learning difficulty and ADHD with my aspies. I can feel stupid and worry others think that too. My boss is a very blank sort of person. I wonder if she's on the autistic spectrum too! She admits she's not good with people and needs to know what's going on all the time. That's her need but it makes me feel like I'm in a fishbowl (good analogy, thanks) and I worry that I'll make a mistake. She never complements but does occasionally criticise. She's got a big heart so I get all confused about her thoughts.
I'm only really overwhelmed at work where it's a kind of 'performance'.
My colleague is going through a bad time, I think at home. I'll try to stop being so sensitive about him. I'll put in ear plugs to block the annoying high-pitched sounds.
Thanks for helping me to step back and rationalise this.