My friend of over 10 years hired me earlier this year to work for a major corporation making great money. She's my boss now and since then our friendship has not been the same. Oh, and did I mention she's now having a baby for my EX, which is why I think I got the job, she's feeling guilty.

I'm a very likable person and I allow people to be themselves with no judgment, and they love me here in the office. People she use to vent and complain about before my arrival aren't so bad, we all get along. I've been promoted already and things are looking on the up and up.

On 3 separate occasions in front of various co-workers, she seemed so surprised that I was knowledgeable about certain people, certain current events, and topics. She would say, "Oh, I didn't think you would know this!" "Oh wow, you know about that?" "I wouldn't expect you to know this?" and then she wants to know why I like something as if I'm not privileged enough to be exposed to such things. Today I almost lost it, but I need my job!

No, I didn't go to the best schools, nor lived in the best communities, or was raised by a rich family, but that doesn't give ANYONE grounds to insult me.

How do I express this to my sensitive friend/boss?

  • Interpreting that situation depends very much on certain things. What topics and events, what do you know to her surprise? Which tone does she use to say that? The range between just surprised and insulting is quite wide for me. Can you rate these situations somehow? Did you ask "why shouldn't I know that" and get a response that helps doing so?
    – puck
    Sep 16, 2018 at 12:06

3 Answers 3


First, I would recommend not working for someone that you know. Making friends with people at work/employers is fraught with much less peril than is becoming employed by or employing people you're already friends with. The fact that she is or was romantically involved with your ex only complicates matters further.

But anyhow, you're there, so on to the answer.

My suggestion would be to bring it up privately with her. Ask for 5-10 minutes of her time, bring up the subject generally, and then cite a specific example. You can then mention that she says things like this frequently/often/occasionally.

I would pause before appealing to her emotions. Instead of saying, "I think it's super hurtful when you say things like this," instead you might try something like, "I realize that you didn't mean it this way, but can you see how someone might be offended by that?" It's possible that the former approach might make her think that you're overly sensitive, whereas the latter allows her to come to the correct conclusion herself.

  • This was very helpful and I will apply the second method. My only worry is causing more tension between us and don't want her to take it out on me at work and making my job difficult. Sep 12, 2018 at 22:07
  • I'm just nervous... We've had huge blowouts just last year. Sep 12, 2018 at 22:15
  • "We've" as in you and her? If you approach the whole thing clinically and unemotionally, that should hopefully prevent the feeling that she's being attacked. Additionally, you can set up a theoretical person and apply this answer to them: "This is Bob. You might feel that you know something about Bob, but when you say out loud in front of everyone things like, 'I wouldn't expect you to know about this,' it can leave Bob feeling like you underestimate his intelligence and/or life experience."
    – John Doe
    Sep 12, 2018 at 22:33
  • 1
    You've been such a big help! Thank you. Tomorrow night the company is having an event. I think I'm going to do it there. Outside of the office and a more relaxed setting. Sep 13, 2018 at 20:20

IMO it sounds like at the moment she sees you as a threat - for 2 reasons:

  1. She's soon to have a baby which is naturally going to make her need a safe and stable social environment. The fact it's with your ex means she might be thinking she needs to worry about the problems you might cause when she has that added responsibility.

  2. You're doing very well socially in the company, it might be making her feel you're going to overtake her soon.

There's a few paths you could take:

  1. Ask her to stop, but it will probably be interpreted as a "shot across the bow" and make the behaviour worse

  2. Ignore the put downs, but the behaviour will probably stay the same.

  3. Show her that you won't be a threat to her - eg. Ask to do a small joint project together. Or talk positively about her to someone else and subtly make sure she's aware of what you said. That doesn't necessarily mean you're accepting her behaviour, just that you're changing her environment so she doesn't feel as threatened.

However you deal with it good luck and hope it goes well :)


The comments she makes, like "Oh wow, you know about that?", have two effects: They make you look bad to your peers (only to the extent that they take any notice of what this woman says), and they insult you.

You want to handle both problems. You could have a quiet talk to her, but that would handle only half the problem. The best way to handle it is immediately when it happens. And the best way is to be not defensive: Of course you know about that (whatever that is), and you are totally surprised that anyone might think you wouldn't.

So: "Oh wow, you know about that?" "Of course I do. What on earth makes you think I wouldn't?" So first, it shows your peers that there is no doubt at all that you are knowledgable about things. Half the job done. And it puts her into an awkward position. She now has to withdraw her comment in front of anyone, or she will have to come with an explanation, which would be seen as very, very rude by your peers and would hurt her reputation a lot more than it would hurt yours.

So instead of gaining points on whatever perverse scale she is scoring, she is losing. That's usually what stops that kind of people. Going to her and complaining how hurtful her comments were isn't going to help, because that was most likely the intent. Turning it back on her, that helps.

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