Clearly, She Was Offended By The Word “Tricky”

, , , , , | Working | February 24, 2020

Due to my experience with databases and the specific reporting software we use, I often get called in to help build reports that coworkers in my company will run and use. This experience means that I’m also generally their first resource when those reports break or give odd data.

On this particular day, I am contacted by a fairly new coworker who is taking over a particular report that a prior coworker had been running. She wants me to explain how the report works so that she can understand it all. I am ahead on my work, and I’m happy to do so as my coworkers understanding the reports cuts down on the amount of troubleshooting I end up needing to do. I go over to her desk and sit down to explain things.

Me:
“To start with, how familiar are you with [Reporting System]?”

Coworker:
*Cheerfully* “Totally unfamiliar. This is my first time using it.”

Me:
*Laughing* “Well, that’s okay; it is designed to be pretty user-friendly. It mimics a lot of the reporting functions of [Common Database Program], if you’ve used that.”

Coworker:
“Nope!”

Me:
“That’s okay. So, first, let’s open up the report.”

My coworker opens the program, then pauses.

Coworker:
“Um, where is the report?”

Me:
“It will be under [Folder] in the Report tab.”

I walk her through opening up the report and go through the various columns in it, explaining where the data for them came from. The entire time, she is cheerful and attentive and seems to be following along easily.

Me:
“All right, so, this last column is a bit tricky, because I had to manually code it rather than relying on what [Program] has available. It pulls from–”

Coworker:
“Don’t condescend to me.”

Me:
*A bit startled* “Uh, sorry, I didn’t–”

Coworker:
“I’m a professional. You shouldn’t talk down to me.”

It was like a switch had been flipped. She went from cheerful to icily angry in an instant. There was nothing different about how or what I was explaining, as far as I could tell. I kept going, finishing up the explanation, and she ended up thanking me in the same cool tone. I went back to work, feeling slightly weirded out from the sudden tone shift.

I ended up getting called into my boss’s office a week or so later to be asked about it, because apparently, my coworker had complained to the boss about me trying to “foist off” my reports onto her. That really confused my boss, given that she was the one who’d assigned my coworker to take care of that report in the first place.

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