Douching out your friend behind his back = FAIL!
November 17, 2009 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Quick advice about handling possibly douchy remark made by friend.

They guy who relayed this info is "Paul", and my friend's name is "Jim". They both work on project X. I work on project Y.

This is a work situation. Paul IM'd me about an hour ago and said, "hey, someone said some nice things about you at our team meeting... they were discussing a bug, and someone asked if it might be a project Y bug; Jim said 'nah, that's mpls2's code...'. So, even if your own team doesn't respect you, the project X team does."

This comment came pretty much out of the blue... there's not any recent context for it.

Paul is smart enough to know whether something is said sarcastically or not, so either this wasn't a sarcastic remark, or Paul is basically trying to make me feel like shit. In my mind, I think there's a 40% chance it was sarcasm.

If it is sarcasm, it's pretty hurtful to me. I don't care if people josh with me when it's my group of friends out to lunch, but for someone to douche me out behind my back, in front of people that don't really know me... I don't find that funny at all.

Looking for advice on how to proceed:

0. Do I ignore it? Just play it cool?
1. Do I bring it up the next time we get lunch?
2. Do I ask a mutual friend who was also at the meeting what his take was?
3. Do I go directly to Jim?

posted by mpls2 to Human Relations (41 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think he was just trying to be funny. It's a way of paying you a compliment while still calling you a loser.

I think you should probably use this as an opportunity to practice the fine art of Letting Things Go.
posted by hermitosis at 2:10 PM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

Sounds like you are way overreacting. And please never say "douching out a friend" again.
posted by Babblesort at 2:11 PM on November 17, 2009 [18 favorites]

Agreed. I view it as a compliment. Just picture a winking emoticon at the end of it ;)
posted by siclik at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

So, Jim was in the meeting and praised your code, and he's a friend? That sounds completely on the level to me.

As for the "..even if your own team.." part, that sounds like he's poking fun at your team for possibly not realizing that you're a great asset. Really, unless there's a context that doesn't exist here, you're overthinking a plate of beans.
posted by mikeh at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2009

I wouldn't worry about it. If he says something else that's questionable, maybe ask him about it, but one comment shouldn't set you off.
posted by howgenerica at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2009

It was a compliment, but made in that "guys can't really compliment other guys" way. It's like a skit I saw somewhere (SNL?) about male hugging, how you have to pound the other guy's back so it's like "I'm huggin' ya...but I'm still hittin' ya!".

Let it go. Something nice was said about you and your work when not in your presence meaning it was genuine, and Paul just wanted you to know it.
posted by arniec at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

This isn't clear.

Jim said this part: 'nah, that's mpls2's code...'

Paul quoted, than added this part: "So, even if your own team doesn't respect you, the project X team does."

Paul said that to you, right? That's not part of Jim's quote. So, where are you getting Paul was talking behind your back from? It sounds like he said that only to you, and is probably sarcasm or something.

You might have to rephrase this in a way that makes sense.
posted by spaltavian at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

So you're asking about the "even if your own team doesn't respect you," is this correct?

Usually when people say something like this ("No matter what anyone else says about you, I think you're a great guy") it's meant as a friendly jab, nothing to get offended about.
posted by lekvar at 2:15 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm confused too. Are you offended because this is the first you've heard (even as a joke) of your team not being 100% behind your work and you're afraid there's more to it?
posted by june made him a gemini at 2:17 PM on November 17, 2009

If you're not sure what your friend meant, go ahead and ask. It sounds like a joke to me that didn't translate because sarcasm and irony sometimes don't come across in text.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2009

If I understood your confusing story correctly, then you are overreacting.

If I didn't understand your confusing story correctly, then it's likely that your inability to tell the story clearly is tied up in the fact that you are overreacting.
posted by bingo at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Okay... to clarify... I think there's a 40% chance that the "nah, that's mpls2's code" was a sarcastic remark, whereby he really meant "uhh... of course it's probably a project Y bug... mpls2 was working on it". It's totally in this guy's personality to do that, but there's no recent context for Jim saying it, or Paul telling me and making me feel like shit.

But that would mean that Paul was intentionally being a pretty big asshole, which is out of character, so I think there's a 60% chance it was a legit compliment.
posted by mpls2 at 2:20 PM on November 17, 2009

Totally and completely overreacting. The first comment made at the meeting was not sarcasm. The second comment was sent to you to make you feel good because, look, we think you're great, and someone said it unprompted.

I would love to get that IM. Instead, you're worrying that they somehow insulted you? No. They did not. Stop trying to look for reasons that others have put you down, and take them at their word. Seriously.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 2:20 PM on November 17, 2009

It probably would have sounded better in real life. So you got a poorly planned and executed IM that was sent with good intentions.
posted by amethysts at 2:21 PM on November 17, 2009

I think this is what you call "ribbing." It's a common communication method among guys and dudes.
posted by bunny hugger at 2:21 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's an ambiguous statement, and unless they want to clarify it, you'll never really know what they meant, you'll only know what they said.

To be honest, I had to read it three times in order to understand how it could be interpreted as a slight.

The first two times, I read it as someone sticking up for you, not trying to slam you.

"Is this bug related to project Y?"

"Nah, mpls2 is on that project, and his code is pretty tight/well thought out/he's a good coder."

TL;DR: Don't sweat it. At least you're being noticed.
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:27 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

You are taking this wrong. I dread interactions with people who respond like you are responding.
posted by fake at 2:27 PM on November 17, 2009 [12 favorites]

As lekvar mentioned, it's a very common office joke to say, "I don't care what (person) thinks about you, you're doing a great job!" where (person) can be replaced by anyone.

What Paul wrote is a clear reference to that joke; at least, that's what I felt when I read it. I don't see it as insulting at all; it seems like he wanted to let you know that Jim praised you in a meeting, but wanted to throw in a joke at the same time.
posted by * at 2:28 PM on November 17, 2009

What? Your clarification makes no sense.

In the extremely unlikely event that Jim was being sarcastic, Paul obviously took it literally, which is proven by his extremely friendly IM. Paul was using one of the most common jokes between friends in the world; it's a variant of:

"You're a good guy. I don't care what they say about you."

You're not "overreacting" because that would mean there was something to react to. Jim stuck up for you.
posted by spaltavian at 2:28 PM on November 17, 2009

IM is notorious for stripping out context; it's too easy to read into it stuff that isn't there, wasn't intended, or was just sloppily typed.

If Jim is your friend, then assume the best from him until you have actual information that suggest he's being a douche.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:29 PM on November 17, 2009

Hold on. So you think Jim's complement, which Paul communicated to you as a complement, was really an insult, sarcastically phrased as a complement? That's starting to going beyond overreacting and verging into the insane, my friend.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:31 PM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you're really over thinking this, it was compliment backed with a bit of ribbing. Let it go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:45 PM on November 17, 2009

Sounds like a compliment to me.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:50 PM on November 17, 2009

Compliment. Take it as such.
posted by liquado at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2009

Not sure what this has to do with vaginal hygiene products, but even if Jim was being sarcastic — which is only even 40% likely if you know for a fact that he does not respect your coding ability — Paul was doing you a big favor by telling you what was said about you in that meeting. If you really can't tell in what sense it was meant, just call Paul and say "hey this is dumb but was that comment about the bug not being in my code meant sarcastically or literally?"
posted by nicwolff at 3:18 PM on November 17, 2009

Have you ever complained about your team not respecting you?
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on November 17, 2009

I would be pleased if someone stuck up for me behind my back like that. If it had been sarcastically said then you would not have been told in that way.
posted by winna at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2009

From the context in which Paul put Jim's comment, it's pretty clear to me that they agree that you're a good programmer, unless whatever it is is obviously a project Y bug.
posted by cmoj at 3:51 PM on November 17, 2009

This entire thread is a mess of confusion.

I would suggest you just let it go OP - if a friend says a hurtful thing to me and I'm not sure if they intended it to be hurtful, I usually just pay attention to how they're acting when I see them next. If all is fine and dandy, and they're an otherwise good friend, then I just chalk it up to them not knowing it hurt me and move on. (Unless it was something super-serious/offensive that needs to be discussed, but this isn't.)
posted by biochemist at 3:55 PM on November 17, 2009

I have tried, but I can only read what Paul said to you as a compliment. I do what Paul did all the time. When one of my friends praises another friend, I tell the other friend. Because it's nice to know that people like you. Paul wanted you to feel nice because Jim respects your skills.
posted by prefpara at 3:59 PM on November 17, 2009

If you don't like Jim because he's the kind of guy who would make that kind of sarcastic comment, you don't trust him, well, I get that. It's fine. I don't think this comment is an example of that, but trust your gut and tread carefully around this dude.
posted by kathrineg at 4:51 PM on November 17, 2009

This is work, so your feelings should be secondary. IM saying "Just checking back about your comment. Are there issues with my team I should be aware of? "
posted by theora55 at 5:32 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like he's old school on giving compliments--a joking dig. That's just how some guys are. And maybe not as many, but some women, too. I think it's dying out, but it was de rigeur in my parents' generation.

Also, text can be a lousy mode of communication. What you infer is not necessarily what was implied. I screw that up too often.
posted by shetterly at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2009

I thought this was a compliment that would translate thus:

Someone asked if project Y might have a bug, and Jim said no way, mpls2 worked on project Y, he's really good so there wouldn't be a bug. So if your team ever happens to give you shit, remember project X team totally respects you.
posted by citron at 6:05 PM on November 17, 2009

> Nah, that's mpls2's code...
Read this as a compliment: your code is awesome.

> So, even if your own team doesn't respect you...
Read this as an awkward joke intended to make him not feel all saccharine for passing on compliments to you. He might even be a tiny bit jealous that everyone praised you.

Now try to stop thinking about it.
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:40 PM on November 17, 2009

I'm going to agree with everyone else here, but also add that this is a good opportunity for Choose Your Own Adventure time! Meaning that, you have three options for how to take this comment:

The comment was a compliment; Paul wanted to share this with you; Paul follows up with a joke to bring the attention back to him.

The comment was sarcastic. Jim publicly dissed you in a meeting. Paul corroborated by sharing this with you, cloaked in a sarcastic 'someone said some nice things about you in a meeting', furthering the dissing, but this time to your face.

Either Paul's comment or Jim's comment was sarcastic.
If you choose A, you get to experience the world as a happy place where people like you, and aren't afraid to tell you so. Have a great day at work tomorrow!

If you choose B, the world is out to get you. Your friends aren't really your friends. You should not trust the things people say. Also, watch your back. Have an anxious day at work tomorrow.

If you choose C, the world is your drama-filled detective novel. Some people have good intentions; some don't. You will spend your days figuring out who is who. Have a long, unnecessarily complicated day at work tomorrow.

Ok, I wrote all of this out, and realize that it sounds somewhat snarky, which is not what I intend. I'm coming from the A place, and I just wanted to make this long winded point that it's more probable others are too, if you choose to see it that way. Regardless of the 'evidence', you really do have a choice in this matter, and that will set the course for not only how you handle this situation, but what your reality and work environment looks like. Same with the responses here (it's not necessarily a 'you're overreacting' pile-on, but rather a bunch of online friends helping you out).
posted by iamkimiam at 6:58 PM on November 17, 2009

As written it was a compliment.

You can imagine that it was spoken with a tone that would make it an insult, but that would be your imagination at work.

As written it was a compliment.
posted by alms at 6:58 PM on November 17, 2009

Is it possible to read Jim's comment as sarcastic? Sure, totally possible. Let's assume that Jim was being sarcastic. Then Paul telling you the story implies that he agrees with Jim's assessment of your work, AND he wants you to know that both Jim and him think your work sucks. I know some ginormous assholes, but none of them are so evil that they would send an unsolicited text that basically amounted to "Me and your friend think your work sucks".

On the other hand, it's also possible to read Jim's comment as earnest. Let's assume that Jim was being earnest. Then Paul telling you the story implies that he agrees with Jim's assessment of your work, and he was telling you as a compliment.

Even if you think that there's a 40% chance that Jim was being sarcastic, you've got to know some off-the-charts assholes to think that Paul would text you about this. There's essentially a 0% chance of this being true. Take it as a compliment, because that's what it is.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:07 PM on November 17, 2009

I'd never read that as anything but a compliment.

Your best course of action is not to pursue further clarification because you're likely to seen as a) seeking more flattery/attention, or b) somewhat paranoid, or c) just someone who overthinks or misinterprets casual remarks (which would make me a bit wary of what I say or share with you in the future).
posted by taz at 10:47 PM on November 17, 2009

Honestly, I don't even read it as a humorous dig, but as joke of the "even in the most outlandish scenario" variety. My interpretation is "Even in the most improbable event imaginable--like, if you find out that your team doesn't respect you (which is of course ridiculous) MY team has a lot of respect for you..."
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:24 PM on November 17, 2009

I would love to have got that IM.

They are saying you are great! Be happy.
posted by Nufkin at 5:30 AM on November 18, 2009

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