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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

How do I deal with my sarcastic/pretentious coworker & roommate?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5663points) October 31st, 2012

I’m working abroad and am being provided with great housing by my employer. I live with three of my coworkers, all in our early 20s. One of my roommates is a bit of an ass and generally kind of rubs me the wrong way. He’s 21, I’m 23 and he’s the only male in the apartment.

From day one, he’s struck me as kind of pompous and snarky. Criticizing others, telling me how to do my job, (I’m a copywriter, he’s a designer so he’s not qualified.) and always correcting or teasing someone about something.

It’s annoying and starting to get on my last nerve. The last straw was when he was criticizing my other roommate for allegedly talking too much when she’s already kind of meek and insecure. Next thing he says to me, I might just let him have it. He’s planning on leaving in 3 months so I might just have to bide my time…

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46 Answers

fremen_warrior's avatar

He probably doesn’t even realize how much of a nuisance he is being, thinks he is actually great. Depending on your personality, I’d either recommend calling him on his BS relentlessly, or ignoring him completely, if you do not handle stressfull situations well. Me, I’d choose option one, there is a risk though that you might become as cynical and pain-in-the-ass-ey as your flatmate, so be wary of the abyss looking into you ;-) Good luck!

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I think he’s gotten so used to either being ignored or having his behavior rewarded that he’s failed to realize what a douche he can be. The problem is that much of it is so insidious that he could always play dumb and make it seem like I’m overreacting. Example: He seems to take particular pride in correcting others. I made a simple typo in an IM conversation today and he called me on it. Then, after I made lunch for everyone in the apartment, I accidentally said “authorative” instead of “authoritative” in a casual conversation and he just HAD to call me out on it.

I feel like he’s not happy unless he feels like he’s in some kind of position of mastery – either by establishing himself as the expert on everything or finding some way to diminish others.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Go for a ‘one on one’ with him then, and have an honest conversation. Calmly explain what bugs you about him and sincirely ask why he is being this way. Be respectful, yet firm, and give him no quarter if he tries to turn the conversation into a confrontation. If that approach does not work, cut contact to a minimum, and ignore him till he goes away in 3 months.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I don’t know why I get so upset over this. I’ve certainly dealt with difficult people before but this one really gets under my skin. I wish I could video tape of him to show exactly what I mean.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE : We were all having drinks the other night. I used to have a severe stutter when I was a kid which I can now manage for the most part. Of course, I used to be teased mercilessly for it but luckily I grew into an and attractive (so I’m told) an confident young adult.

It still comes out more around people I’m uncomfortable with. I stammered on a word and he imitated it in front of everyone. It’s like as soon as he sees a potential weakness, he takes joy in bringing attention to it. What. An. Ass.

fremen_warrior's avatar

I’m sorry, I forgot to ask – is this an “I want to rant” question, or an “I want a solution” one?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Your solution was likely en point, I guess I need a rant too. :-x Sorry.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

In response to your response, I guess I’ll have to wait until the opportunity presents itself (which it will) and then just deal with it head-on right there.

jca's avatar

To me, him making fun of a stutter is totally unacceptable and totally asshole-ish. I would suggest if the others in the room are not happy with his behavior, you tell him as a group. An option is you tell him yourself but it would be helpful if he understands the others don’t like his actions, either, and that’s best done as a group. Sometimes, assholes like that need to be told off to start acting more appropriately.

Good Luck and please post an update as to how things turn out.

The Update Lady

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do others feel the same way? I am assuming “yes”. Next time there is a public correction, I’d hit him with:
“Hey Steve is your OCD kicking in again? I think you forgot to take your meds?” or
“Good boy Stevie! You get a gold star for knowing how to spell xxx!”
“Are you taking your meds?. It took you almost 3 seconds to correct that last mistake.” or
“Boy you’re going to be a joy for someone to live with.”
“I was wondering how long it would take you to correct that one. You were quiet for more than 4 minutes.”
I would practice for 15 minutes and have some rejoinders on hand and at the ready so they could be thrown out every single time he makes a correction (while ignoring the correction.) You must do this when you have a receptive and informed audience.

I tend to be extremely tolerant and mellow. But when I have to fight back, I don’t just fight fire with fire. I use overwhelming ground and air support. Napalm and flamethrowers are not out of the question. It is not always the best solution but it has worked for me.

marinelife's avatar

Why are you putting up with this? Tell him his opinions are unwelcome and to keeo them to himself.

ucme's avatar

What floor are you on?
Those pesky windows can be carelessly left open, together with a slippery floor, “accidents” are just bound to happen.

gailcalled's avatar

Re; the imitation of your stuttering, which is indefensible.

You call him on it at the moment he shuts his mouth.

You ask, “Do you think that you are being funny?”

You ask, “What is your point.”

“You ask. “Are you aware of what you are doing?”

You ask, “Why are you doing that?”

You ask, ” Did I invite you to criticism me publicly?”

Note; you ask a question rather than make a declarative statement.

People respond differently to direct questions.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled
Most obnoxious people count on the status quo and others being too intimidated to call them on their bull. I am a very direct type, and if I could no longer manage to stay in zen mode around a certain person I would employ the tactics/retorts as above.
You might be amazed how one well timed, put them on the spot, question might work, especially in a group setting where the the jerk will be scrutinized by all his peers.

It will reveal boatloads about the persons true nature, either they will humbly offer an apology and pay attention to their words and behaviors in the future or, they will become defensive and attempt to blot you and your truth speaking out.
If it’s the latter don’t waste your time trying to stay on their good side, let ‘em have it with both barrels.

I’d pick up a little spray bottle and write on it insert assholes name
” Fred repellant!” and just point it at their face whenever they approach. No words needed.
Tell them it is an asshole atomizer. lol

zenvelo's avatar

Since this is company housing, this is a classic description of a problem to be resolved by your HR department. Otherwise, with the exception of @gailcalled‘s solutions, you run a risk of getting disciplined yourself.

gailcalled's avatar

@zenvelo: The stuttering crack was made after hours in a social situation, it sounds like.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE : We were all having drinks the other night. I used to have a severe stutter when I was a kid which I can now manage for the most part..

… I stammered on a word and he imitated it in front of everyone. It’s like as soon as he sees a potential weakness, he takes joy in bringing attention to it…


hearkat's avatar

In my experience, people that are arrogant and obnoxious are usually using those tactics to deflect from their own faults and insecurities. I like taking @gailcalled‘s approach, and bouncing their insensitivity back in their face, and letting them answer for it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I would totally call him out, tell him he’s an ass and 3 months is way too long but you’ll tolerate his idiocy for only that short space of time then you never want to hear or see him again.
The part that really irritated me is that he made fun of your stammer and told the low self-esteem girl she talked too much. As someone who used to be shy and scared and came out of that shell, he deserved an ass-whippin for that one.

The other thing I like to do in front of rude people is when we’re all out, call him a douche or ‘call him out’ in front of a crowd like this “Oh, so big man has to pick on girls, he can’t pick a fight with a man” know, make him feel like the douche instead of you girls, the other boys won’t like that either…hee hee.

YARNLADY's avatar

Look up various come backs on the internet and use them. The list offered by @gailcalled is a great place to start.

gailcalled's avatar

Please note that I am NOT advocating “come-backs” or “call-outs.”

Those are both statements that are belligerent or confrontational.

I am suggesting using only carefully thought-out questions, a very different technique indeed.

YARNLADY's avatar

@gailcalled Thanks for the clarification. I did use the wrong word. I was referring to responses and I am sorry that my comment came out wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

Generally, the relationship folks, as far as I have learned, tell us that we should identify the specific behavior (preferably when it happens), tell the person how we feel about it, and ask them to change their behavior.

For example, “When you imitate my stutter, it makes me feel stupid. I want you to help me feel calm, not exacerbate my stutter. Please be supportive of me.”

Then you repeat, as necessary. It becomes a mantra. Until he gets sick of it and stops badgering you.

If he offers a defense, such as, “I was only teasing.”

You do it again, “You were being defensive and did not acknowledge my feelings. It makes me feel small an unliked. I want you to listen to me and understand me and I want you to stop teasing me.”

It’s a kind of behavior modification technique, and people actually have a hard time when you stay calm and clear about what you want. You are polite. And sane.

Well, it’s an idea, anyway.

lifeflame's avatar

I totally agree with @gailcalled and @wundayatta for keeping it adult.
Bullies thrive on attention or your suffering, so you just need to keep your cool.

I really like the “Are you aware of what you are doing?” question.
Also, “What is your point.”


KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m sticking with embarassing the bully and giving him a dose of his own medicine. He totally deserves it.

Shippy's avatar

I hate to say this, but I would be very sarcastic and get his silly brain to do some gymnastics. I wouldn’t stop until he asked why, then I’d tell him, take a dose of your own medicine. Or get violent and beat him with an egg spatula.

cheebdragon's avatar

He’s the only guy in the house…..his life probably sucks right now.

Sarcasm makes you smarter.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Zenvelo. I’m in Eastern Europe. The law stops east of Berlin.

zenvelo's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace You aren’t working for a US Company?

I still think @gailcalled makes the best suggestions. A bit of non confrontational standing your ground and calling him out on his own obnoxiousness,

tinyfaery's avatar

If I don’t kid, mock or criticize someone, I usually don’t like them, so I ignore them. To me, a person I joke with is a person who has warranted my attention. I have chosen to invite that person into my world. There are a lot of us out there. Just sayin’.

Ignore him like any unruly pet.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
gailcalled's avatar

Joking, teasing and the like works only if it is reciprocal and done in a nice way.

This guy’s behavior defines “mean-spirited.”

Personally, I cannot imagine any situation where mocking or criticizing someone is warranted.

jca's avatar

I am wondering if you are not successful with getting him to stop, since it’s a work related housing situation there are laws regarding workplace violence, which this may fall under the umbrella of.

Response moderated (Spam)
tinyfaery's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t see how it has to be mean-spirited. Maybe he is being playful. Most of the time I am just trying to get someone to see the humor in life, especially if they are laughing at themselves. People are entirely too serious about their minute little problems. The only way I have been able to get past my abusive upbringing is by laughing at it. People who don’t get me are people that take themselves too seriously or think they are vainglorious and have the some sort of mission to prove themselves to the world. I want none of that.

Sometimes trying to find the motivation about someone’s unwanted behavior can lead to a mutual understanding and an end to the tension. Even the end of the unwanted behaviors.

hearkat's avatar

@tinyfaery: Mocking the dysfluency of someone who stutters is mean-spirited.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not always. I’d have to hear it actually happen to judge.

hearkat's avatar

@tinyfaery: Then clearly, you’re not a stutterer. The OP has left no doubt that she is at the very least annoyed, and at the worst, offended by this person’s actions. Joking amongst close friends is an entirely different situation, and that is obviously not the case in the situation for which the OP has asked for advice.

fremen_warrior's avatar

I still think just talking to the dude is the best option. I remember times when I seem to have offended people not even knowing I did it, better yet they didn’t even want to listen to my side of the story or explain what I did that pi**ed them off so much, so quite frankly I still might be doing it – for everyone’s sake, explain it to the dude, maybe it will work, lol.

Buttonstc's avatar


I think that if you choose to be self deprecating and poke fun at yourself that’s one thing. But someone else taking the liberty of poking fun at you for something you did not choose and had little control over is another matter entirely.

I seriously doubt you would find it amusing if a fairly recent acquaintance chose to do that to you.

If someone is repeatedly correcting someone else’s grammar mistakes it’s kind of juvenile and annoying at best. And most adults know that.

And most adults also know that imitating or mocking someone’s stuttering is hardly funny because it just makes matters that much worse (since stuttering is anxiety related to begin with).

That’s just plain malicious and unfunny in any context regardless of whether it’s done with a smile or not.

I forget his name, but there’s a young comedian with CP who repeatedly cracks jokes about his awkward movements and speech and it doubtless puts people at ease while addressing the “elephant in the room” type of thing.

However, should someone else start poking fun at him, I seriously doubt others would find that funny and laugh hilariously.

Young kids don’t necessarily realize how hurtful it is to imitate or mock people with disabilities or speech impediments and need to be taught some consideration.

But adults do know what is appropriate regarding this. If they continually mock someone with a speech impediment, they’re just mean spirited not caring whether it’s hurtful or not.

Just because you choose to poke fun at yourself for whatever does not automatically confer the same permission on everybody else around you.

And the OP wasn’t even doing that. This guy just took the liberty of mocking her under the guise of “just kidding”.

Someone’s disabilities or impediments are not automatically considered up for grabs for kidding around by anybody and everybody. It’s just plain mean and hurtful to do so.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Thanks for the responses, guys. I’ve mostly been avoiding him lately as I’m not entirely sure what his deal is. We are pretty civil to each other and the other night he asked me if I wanted to go drinking with him but I declined.

I’m not sure what his issue is but I sincerely hope he grows out of it. As for my stutter, most people who aren’t familiar with me don’t know I have it since it’s so well managed at this point and only comes out in occasional situations. However, compounded by his attitude in general, his comment certainly rubbed me the wrong way.

I don’t get picked on much anymore but I had a rough time when I was growing up. By some miracle I was able to transform from a shy, awkward kid with a speech impediment to a tall, attractive young woman with an education and a career. I even had some success as a model in NYC and gained some publicity for a couple of digital/print campaigns. Despite everything I’ve overcome, I still feel very insecure and vulnerable at times and someone treating me like that is enough to make me feel like I’m that 8 year old girl again.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace why tell us? Tell him.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Buttonstc I couldn’t give a shit what anyone thinks or says about me. I generally do not like people and I am sure not going to let some ass affect me. If you (not you, you) don’t learn how to react and deal with assholes now, then when? What a life, being offended by every little thing. Go ahead let the bullies win.

edit:: The OP seems to be less fragile than everyone thinks.

Buttonstc's avatar

“Despite everything I’ve overcome, I still feel very insecure and vulnerable at times and someone treating me like that is enough to make me feel like I’m that eight year old girl again.”

Those are her own words; not my or anyone else’s interpretation. And how fragile she is or isn’t is really beside the point.

I honestly don’t feel that your attempt at minimizing his behavior as “playful” is helpful.

THAT IS what I was reacting to. This guy is clearly way out of line and definitely mean spirited. He’s going far beyond playful teasing and he definitely needs someone to jerk a knot in his tail ASAP.

There were some excellent suggestions given above, great questions to confront him with and I hope she eventually finds the appropriate opportunity to do just that.

Being a pompous jerk and a show-off by one-upping someones spelling or grammar is one thing, mocking someone’s impediment is a different issue altogether. There definitely is a difference. Minimizing his behavior as playful or just kidding helps no one.

And I agree that she’s not too fragile to put him in his place instead of stewing in silence. And I hope she does precisely that the next time the opportunity presents itself.

cheebdragon's avatar

I wish there was a valley girl textile for this kind of argument, it would make “whatevs” soo much better…

tinyfaery's avatar

Hey. I’m from the city. I’m just currently exiled in the valley.


Response moderated (Writing Standards)

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