There’s a woman at my office who is driving everyone crazy. She’s constantly correcting mistakes, some that I believe are imaginary, with our appearance. From telling us we have a little lint on our pants to food between our teeth or even a stray thread it’s pick, pick, pick all day.
I don’t even think she’s doing it to be nice. I think she’s doing it to be a critical witch and to undermine people’s confidence. Last week at a very important meeting she kept gesturing to me that something was on my face. It freaked me out and it turns nothing was wrong with my face.
How do I shut her down? It’s gone way past just irritating and is starting to affect my job performance.
Signed, Aggravated at Work
Well, of course, the standard response is to talk to your human resource director, but I can see where, if not phrased right, you’ll be the that ones that sounds like you’re being hyper sensitive to a kind co-worker. So, here’s my suggestion.
Just straight out tell this woman that while you appreciate her laser focus on your appearance, you’ve already lived that life as a teenager with your mother who would nit-pick every aspect of your being before you left the house, so as a grown woman you’re all good with just being free to have lint on your sweater and lipstick on your teeth.
It’s the classic it’s not you it’s me – and it should work because who wants to be compared to a nagging mother. For sure, she’s going to slip up and correct something, but all you have to do is look at her and say – “Remember I’ve got that mom PTSD thing going on.” (Trust me, your mother won’t mind being being thrown under the bus because you’re never too old to use your mom as an excuse for just about anything.)