When your coworker compares her child to yours, can it be considered borderline bullying?

Q:  I have a coworker who is always finding ways to compare her child to mine. We both have boys that are about one year apart. She inquires about his height, whether he knows how to (insert her child’s latest interest), and even got so personal, that I was embarrassed. She is so persistent, that I often feel bullied. How do I stop her?

A:  Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. What we’d like to say is: “Who cares! Stop comparing your perfect little wonder of a child to mine!” Or “Yes, I know, I know, your little Garrett is the smartest child in the history of fourth grade!” But, none of these would be nice, now would they?

So, we are left with the not-so-satisfying tactful route.

When the cocky coworker starts with, “Oh, did I tell you that Byron-Michael has just put together an amazing PowerPoint presentation for the science fair? You just have to see it.” (As she pulls out her tablet.)

And, here it comes, “Has your Ryan ever created one?  My Byron-Michael could show him how.”

First, try not to roll your eyes or let out an exasperated sigh.  Consider these responses:

  • That’s great. I don’t have time right now.”  (Hopefully, she’ll show it to others and be satisfied.)
  • Why don’t you forward it to me, I’ll take a look when I have time.” (You’ll never have time.)
  • You must be very proud of him.” (Do not address whether your child can or cannot do “x”.)
  • Thanks, if Ryan needs any help, he knows where to go.”  
  • I’m not worried about it, he’ll have plenty of time to master that skill.”
  • You know how I am; just let the boys be who they are, and be happy that they all get along.” 

Then, immediately, cut her off by changing the subject, telling her that you must get back to work, make a call, or see someone. 

If the gentler responses aren’t effective, here are a few more direct responses: 

  • That’s great for Byron-Michael.” (When she follows up with, “What about Ryan?” Repeat. She’ll eventually get it.)
  • I don’t believe in comparing children–they are all develop differently/they all have different gifts.”
  • Does it hurt Byron-Michael’s feelings when he’s always compared to other children?”  (It could make her angry or open her eyes.)

Be prepared for the relationship to change or dissolve.

Rosalinda’s remarks:  Comparing your child, your marriage, your possessions to others, is detrimental to a relationship. Besides, one day, things could change where you’ll be left with nothing to brag about, or, someone bigger and better will come along and squash you. 

NEVER let your child hear you comparing them to another–the damage could be monumental. 

Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

having lunch with a CEO, business dining etiquetteRosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.

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