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I've worked at my job for over a year and I barely speak to anyone. I'm very much a loner and don't prefer socializing or interacting with others, I keep to myself. My other coworkers know this and until recently I assumed they understood and were fine with this, but lately I've noticed behavior from a few that would suggest they are not.

One day when I was coming into work (I work outside) everybody was gathered in a certain area and I was going towards the locker area to put my bag away. As I was walking someone yelled out "HOW'S IT GOING!!!!" at the top of his voice, bringing everybody's attention to me. Everybody knows I don't like any attention so he did this deliberately. He did this either to intimidate me or to see what I'd do. Naturally I was intensely nervous and with everybody looking at me listening to how I'd respond, all I could utter was a weak "Hey". Everybody laughed and I moved on.

That was the second time that happened to me in a month (the other time was with a different person). Moreover, the person who yelled out at me isn't a workplace bully and hasn't been rude to me before. In fact later during the rest of the day they were being friendly with me and acting like it never happened.

But the incident really embarrassed me and ruined the entire day for me. However, I don't want to go to management about this. I'd rather deal with it directly.

There's the option of going up to the person directly and letting him know that I don't like being called out like that, but I think he's aware of that and it's the reason he did it.

Another option would be the way I respond to being called out in that moment. This I have no clue how to do because my response would have to be calm and confident, which I don't know how to do.

What can I do next time this happens? How do I ensure this doesn't happen again without getting on anyone's bad side?

  • Welcome to Interpersonal Skills. Please take a moment to visit the help center and take the tour. Unfortunately asking "What can I do?" is too broad a question for this site. Can you edit your question to focus more on a specific goal or desired outcome? – sphennings Jul 17 '18 at 21:58
  • Have you told your coworkers before how uncomfortable this makes you? Sometimes friends and acquaintances tease eachother over things they don't think are insecurities. My wife is very easily startled. When her coworkers come to talk to her, they'll sneak up and abruptly start talking. She jumps, they laugh, she laughs, and no harm's done (or intended). If you discovered they were "messing with you" in similar good faith, would you be less inclined to ask them to stop? – Lord Farquaad Jul 18 '18 at 13:43
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There's the option of going up to the person directly and letting him know that I don't like being called out like that, but I think he's aware of that and it's the reason he did it.

Emphasis mine.

The problem is that you don't know why he did it. You have an educated guess, but it doesn't make much sense to me. You say he's not a workplace bully. You say that afterwards, he was friendly. You say that generally speaking, he does not act like this.

It's entirely possible the guy was just messing with you much like how one friend might lightly punch another in the shoulder. Nobody likes getting hit in the shoulder, but a light tap is a sign of affection between friends.

Similarly, nobody shy likes being put in intense spotlight, but a little call-to-attention might just be like a light punch on the shoulder.

Talk to him.

Hey, earlier you shouted "How's it going!?" and it put me in the spotlight. I'm really shy, and that made me pretty uncomfortable; it seemed a little out of character for you. What was that all about?

This accomplishes a few goals.

  1. It ensures that he understands you're not okay with what happened.
  2. It opens a dialogue so that real communication can begin - not guesses at whether or not someone was being mean on purpose.
  3. It's not an attack. You're not saying "YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG!!" which would probably just make him defensive. It simply says "this upset me - why'd you do it?".

It's very likely he'll respond with something like "Oh man, I'm sorry! You didn't do anything wrong - I just thought it would be kinda funny, and everyone laughed at your response, so I thought it was okay."

Even in a worst-case scenario, if he says something like "Ha, well I was just trying to piss you off, loser!", you KNOW what the reality of the situation was. It's nearly impossible to move forward until you've got a basis of facts to work from.

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    since I was going to make similar points to this I'll just add mine as a comment here. In addition to this being only speculation right now, if he is trying to mess with you by addressing him directly about it you can make it more uncomfortable for him to mess with you in that way and as such possibly reduce the likeliness of going through it again with him – BKlassen Jul 18 '18 at 21:14

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