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What's the best way to deal with a verbally aggressive/bully colleague?
I have started a new job 2 months and two weeks ago as a software developer. It's my second job, I'm 26.
Ten days ago, a newcomer came in as a future lead developer, he is at least 32.
We are 4 on our team :
- Bob: the oldest developer on the project (here since 9 months), doesn't have good knowledge of what we do.
- Me: I have far less experience on it
- Joe: an old QA, came 1 months ago
- Gregory: The newcomer
And my manager (Alice).
I'm a quite discreet person, I don't make much noise, I don't interact with others more than necessary, I work on my own to find a solution and only ask for help as a last resort. I'm attached to my space (having a clean/empty desk and a need for flow mode/hyperfocus state). I'm more efficiency/technically oriented. Despite of that, I work "a lot" (meaning solving 1-2 bugs per day) with Bob and Joe. It also happen to me to make jokes with members of other teams (that's my way to fulfil the social contract), but usually I don't make eye contact and show a poker face.
The newcomer is more people-oriented, trying to speak to everyone, making a lot of noise, talking to everyone, taking a lot of space. He is also not very good technically and prone to ask before trying to find a solution.
To sum it up: I'm an introvert (INTJ-T) and he is an extrovert.
To be really honest, I don't like this type of men, even when he doesn't talk to me. I feel no offense but I am a little envious of it, sometimes.
Phase 1: help
Despite that, in the beginning, I have spent a large amount of time explaining where the things are (multiple times), how they work (for those I have a good understanding of), setting up the tools we have, debugging some configuration issues. In the mean team suggested to my manager that she should propose a bunch of training courses to the team to fulfil the technical gap.
Phase 2: taking distance
In the last few days, I have tried to take some distance from the questions he was constantly asking (because it was tiring and it just dropped my productivity).
I have started by saying things like: "I don't know", "Go to see Bob about it", "I don't feel legitimate to answer you on that", "I have no time for you now", "That part is assigned to you". According to the context, it's all true and I have said it in a neutral tone.
His answers: "Say it anyway", "I don't care", "You have to explain me", "I'm the newcomer, you have to explain me", "How will I do it if no one explains it to me", etc.
Phase 3: the clash
He asked me something yesterday, something very obvious to me, something I think he'll be able to deduce with much less information than he has. I answered mechanically "obviously not" (it was a yes-no question), in a neutral tone.
He began to be very aggressive and saying: "There is nothing obvious, you have no choice than to help me, etc.".
I answered: "It's not my job to undergo that you calm your nerves on me, I deserve to be treated correctly" with a tensed voice.
Acting while being overwhelmed and letting these feelings leak against your interlocutor isn't an acceptable behavior (in France). It's mostly viewed as a childish behavior/lack of maturity.
Phase 5: manager/Alice talk
I raised the issue during my weekly meeting (just Alice and me), and her reaction was to tell me that we will get to know each other better and I should have been more careful about him.
I just told her that I'm not here to fulfil his needs and I've quit my job few days later for many reasons including the lack of support from her (my hierarchy).
Phase 6: Gregory talk
As I have expected, I had a talk with Gregory few days after the clash. There are a lot of people like that who like to have a frontal confrontation, thinking that it solves everything. I do not share this view (I know that this situation would eventually happen with him).
He told me that he feels useless and that he frustrated, plus the fact that I was not providing him the help and not even watching him I was saying so.
What I'm not looking for
How to get rid of a help vampire: I perfectly managed to get rid of his question Why is he doing that: I think I had an accurate view of his feeling and of what would happen How to earn his respect: I don't care about his respect, I just want to be treated respectfully
Interesting raised points
He is testing you. Even if it's part of his job (I don't think it's the case), one one hand I just can't pass an "extrovert-test" and on the other hand, I don't see why he would get upset when someone fails at his test.