I work as a designer, so I often do research and also have to test stuff. I often have my phone in my hand or on in front of me as I use a mirroring program to show my designs directly onto my phone while I'm working on them. This helps me a lot with making designs. When a supervisor tells me 'I like Amazon's checkout, we should do something similar', I need to browse amazon, take notes and screenshots etc.

None of my supervisors have issue with this, but my colleagues always make comments. 'Are you done Facebooking, I have a question' when I am holding my phone. Or 'I doubt Amazon is allowed in the office.'. If they need something from me they will say 'You don't have a lot to do right?'. It even goes so far that if I say I've had a stressful day, they will just reply with 'Filled with online shopping?'.

I'm getting a bit sick of it and I feel like I'm losing respect of people. I have explained many times it is work related, but they are not having it. How can I explain it to them without sounding like I'm making fake excuses?

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    I've been in this boat before with testing apps on my phone. I've always been impressed by the people who seemingly have so much time on their hands that they monitor everything you're doing, but still feel justified in commenting on how you are the one that's not doing anything. Jan 12, 2018 at 15:24
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    Use an on-screen device display emulator instead of your own phone. Jan 12, 2018 at 15:58
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    @PoloHoleSet I can't put my hand around an emulator tho. It's often very handy to see what areas are easy to touch.
    – Summer
    Jan 12, 2018 at 16:00
  • Are they serious or are these remarks attempts to be 'funny'?
    – user10085
    Jan 12, 2018 at 16:52
  • @JanDoggen - Probably passive-aggressive peevishness. "I got dinged for being on Facebook, so I'll make a snide remark to someone else, regardless of their circumstances" mindset. Jan 12, 2018 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Sorry, I am currently working on Task [xyz] getting ideas from Amazon's design to incorporate into product [zyx] - can I help you with your problem later?

Show them that you are currently working on something by mentioning it and the fact that you are busy. You don't have anything to hide, so it's perfectly normal to continue doing what you are doing.

The fact that they are not respecting what you are doing for the team and the company means that they can wait an hour or two before you come back to them to help. Everyone should try to understand what everyone else is contributing to the company. Being ignorant of what the job the person you are asking for something entails is not very polite.

They will learn very fast that they should not make such remarks if they want your help right now.

  • This would be a better answer if you cut out the last two paragraphs. Making people wrong by penalizing them and making them wait extra is not necessary, nor is it good interpersonal relations. The bold sentence and following paragraph are spot on.
    – Wildcard
    Jan 13, 2018 at 7:08
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    I respectfully disagree with the comment that the last two paragraphs are not constructive. They need to understand that OP's involvement is of value. It's not a penalty to not put your work on hold for somebody who makes snide comments about your current tasks. you must recognise the value of your own work and time. Concerning "Good IPR", it is excellent to demonstrate that you are, in fact, currently involved in company interests, i.e. work, without becoming hostile, and prevents resentment.
    – NOP
    Feb 7, 2018 at 21:28

I've been in a similar boat, and my answer depends heavily on who I'm dealing with.

If the person in question is someone I'm on good terms with, and joke around with, I'll be light hearted, and maybe a little self-deprecating. I may very well explain what it is I'm doing.

However, if someone is simply being passive-aggressive, I won't hesitate to put them in their place. In your case I'd reply with any number of phrases, depending on the situation:

Ignorant Coworker: Are you done Facebooking, I have a question.
You: Not quite, can you come back in 10 minutes? Thanks.
Ignorant Coworker: Are you serious?
You: Yes, I am serious. Analyzing web design is an important part of my job. Thanks for understanding.

And then go back to whatever you were doing.

Ignorant Coworker: I doubt Amazon is allowed in the office.
You: Just one of the many perks of being a web designer. (You may add more if you feel like being nasty: Another is getting snide comments from people who don't understand the requirements of my job.)

It will of course depend on what you feel you can get away with. Last but not least, in the third situation you described, you can call people out as well:

Ignorant Coworker: You don't have a lot to do, right?
You: Actually I'm very busy. Perhaps you also have something you should be doing right now?

People will eventually get the hint.

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    Love this one, especially the part where the ignorant employee suddenly realizes there's a entire new perspective apart from his own and manifests that with "are you serious?". Upvoted.
    – Markino
    Jan 12, 2018 at 15:54

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