Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Jokes and Jokers Teasing

I made a mistake about three months ago, and I admit it caused a mess. Things have been fully corrected since then, and the actual damage was minimal. Nonetheless, several employees still “jokingly” bring up my mistake practically every time I see them. I am tired of hearing it and I’ve told them that their comments are getting old, but they keep on making them. How do I get this to end?

You made a mistake a few months ago, and you are also making a mistake in the way you are responding to your co-workers’ comments. One of the main reasons why your associates continue to revisit your mistake whenever they see you is that they enjoy seeing you react with discomfort and distress. The fact that you become annoyed whenever they raise this subject is actually rewarding their behaviors.

Since behaviors that are rewarded tend to be repeated, your fellow employees are likely to keep harping on this subject as long as their comments can generate exasperation from you. As a result, if you want this behavior to stop, you need to stop rewarding it. When anyone brings up your error, you should refrain from displaying any emotions, no matter what others may say. When your fellow employees find that their comments cannot rile you, they will soon lose interest in trying.

With the passage of time, your error will become older and older news. This fact is also likely to cause your fellow employees to lose interest in the whole incident. Besides, it should not be long before another employee makes a hefty mistake, and then all eyes and comments will focus on that person. Hopefully, it will not be you.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!