How Would You Handle Getting in Trouble at work....FOR THIS

Updated on November 08, 2015
A.S. asks from Orwigsburg, PA
30 answers

theres a group of us at work that joke around play small jokes on each other basically horse play to get us through the day. we change each other back grounds on the computers and lower each others chairs to make it lower when they sit. we all have a good laugh and day goes on. except yesterday a outsider told on just me and said I was bullying!?! which lead to me being called in the mngs office being called a bully and that is not tolerated at work ?? lets just say I flipped. told her off and told off the lady who ratted me out. now mind you we are all adults in a office of 60 plus woman. however I am super offended by being called a bully. that is such a hard word. I explained it is mutual joking there is NO bullying. but my point didn't get across. im off work today but feel liking calling the boss back to explain my self further. should I leave this go or call in today and let them know how upset this has me.

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answers from Dallas on

The workplace should be a. professional environment. It is not a place for pranks and jokes.

I do believe "bully" is an overused term. Your reaction to your boss and co-worker is not excusable. That behavior makes you look 10 times worse because you immediately went on the defense instead of taking responsibility for your actions.

I think and apology to all is deserved and a big thank you to your boss for not firing you on the spot.

As a business owner, I would not tolerate that behavior in my office if I had employees. Employees are paid to be professional and productive. Of course there is room for being social but pranks are not social in my opinion. Some pranks are mean. What if you messed with someone's chair, they fell and were injured? Not too funny and the company would then be liable for medical care for that employee.

I think you're lucky you were not fired. Suck it up, take responsibility for your actions without making excuses.

19 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

B. said it: "Flipping out at your manager is never a good idea." I'd add, even if the manager is wrong (though I don't necessarily agree that your manager WAS wrong here--the manager's job is to intervene if any employee believes another is causing problems).

First, an "outsider" did this? You shouldn't have "insiders" and "outsiders" at work; everyone should be acting like adults and professionals and regarded as such. It sounds as if your particular work group has gotten maybe a bit too close, too loose and too "jokey"--which is somewhat understandable if you are in a tense or high-pressure work environment; that does often cause people to release some steam with jokes, but clearly someone doesn't see it that way. And if even ONE person doesn't see it that way, you have to stop. I truly suspect that if some "outsider"--whatever that really means--told the boss about this, the outsider was alerted to it by someone inside your work group who is tired of these activities, feels she is obliged to say nothing and put up with this stuff, and who feels you do more of it than others.

If a colleague was tired of the jokes, she should have said so to everyone's faces, but that ship has already sailed; the boss is now involved and you are on the radar in the worst way. You feel wronged, but if you want to keep this job (or ever get a decent reference if you leave this job), you need to resist that urge to call the boss today. Apologize in person first thing tomorrow, to the boss-- go in early if you need to do so, to see the boss one on one. Keep it short and to the point and then move on swiftly and get to work. Then apologize to the person you say "ratted you out" as you put it.

You are on the brink here and the boss and coworkers will be watching you for a very long time to come. Calling in to tell them "how upset this has made me" will pretty much seal the deal on your getting disciplined or worse.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Um....I've been in a number of offices and to be honest?? I've NEVER had ADULTS playing pranks on co-workers.

You acted like a child - junmior high to be exact - in my opinion - not only with the pranks but telling your boss off and then going to the person who "ratted" you out.

if you want to keep your job??? You need to schedule a meeting wih your boss and talk with your boss LIKE AN ADULT and apologize for acting like a child, telling her off and then flipping out. Then STOP all this childish pranking and do your freaking job.

Good luck!! You're gonna need it.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think the other ladies pretty much covered it. You "flipped. told her off and told off the lady who ratted me out. " Um, and you still are employed? Are you sure you still have a job and you aren't "home today" because you are being disciplined (adult time out)?? Wow.

I'd have probably canned you. And wouldn't have felt badly about it, either.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

What on earth were you thinking? What on earth ARE you thinking? You flipped out and told the boss off? So you proved the point by bullying the boss.

Do you not understand that work isn't the same as junior high school? You aren't paid to mess with other peoples' chairs and computer screens. You aren't paid to play jokes on people. You are paid to work. This isn't professional. If you have to do this to "get through the day", then they need to DOWNSIZE because they have too many employees and not enough work for them to do. You should have APOLOGIZED to the boss, telling her that you didn't realize it could be seen that way because so many others do the same, instead of having an ugly attitude about it.

Just because YOU think it's everyone doing it, doesn't mean that it's appreciated. An outsider can actually see the kind of problem it can cause in an office. Your whole office needs to up their game in being professional. It needs to start with YOU if you want to keep your job.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well if you are just going to yell at your manager today don't bother unless you want to make a post, how would you handle getting fired FOR THIS.

A normal person calmly explains what is going on and how the person observing misunderstood. Your response didn't do a thing to convince anyone you aren't a bully.
How on earth do you have the time to change someone's computer background? You either have to not work and pay attention to when they walk off then run over and change it or they are gone so dang long slacking that you have time. And I thought we had a bunch of lazies in my office, yours takes the cake

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Um, no.
Your response was inappropriate.
Flipping out at your manager is NEVER a good idea.
(And believe me - I know the temptation to do that can be strong - I've had one or two nutso bosses in my day.)
If the horse play has gotten to the point where it's noticeable to outsiders and it's giving your department / company a bad reputation/image - then ALL participants should be called in on the carpet and told collectively to 'cut it out' - and if you can't do that with good grace and an apology and a promise to not do this anymore then you should not work there anymore.
Since you're all adults - and professionals - it's high time you collectively all grow up and get over it.

Perhaps you have no idea how serious this is.
You think changing a chair around is no big deal - except if someone has a back condition and falls over because of it - it could be a big time legal mess for the company and whoever messed with the chair.
Have you had any sexual harassment awareness training at work?
Do you know what 'hostile work environment' means?
Companies spend BIG BUCKS to avoid the legal entanglements and are usually more than willing to settle out of court because of the headaches/fines/fees/paperwork involved.
I'm really sorry you had no idea the can of worms you were unknowingly getting involved in.
I hope you're still employed and can eventually bounce back from this but you and your co-workers desperately need some education.
When/if you return to work, eat some crow, swallow your pride, APOLOGIZE, say you were not aware of the problems the jokes were causing and be on your best behavior from now on.
If your management has to show they did something/anything to alleviate the situation, they might end up firing EVERYONE involved - and then ALL OF YOU will be looking for work.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

wow, instead of just dealing with it calmly and professionally, you flipped on the manager, AND flipped out on the lady who felt bullied?
and you want to 'explain further'?
the only thing you should do is apologize sincerely, and keep the horseplay in check. clearly you're not as funny and good natured as you think you are.
it IS a place of business, right?

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Unemployment sucks and you very may find yourself in that position when you return. Go off on your boss like that and you will canned! You should know how to act professional by now.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'll just add to the discussion the similar problems when people make "jokes" about __________ (fill in the blank: women, immigrants, blacks, Native Americans, the disabled, gays/lesbians/transgenders, Italians.....). "Everyone's laughing" was the excuse used for many decades. While people may be laughing on the outside, many are miserable on the inside. People go along to get along sometimes, but they really despise it. Even if it's just one or two people, it's wrong. This is called a "hostile work environment", it's illegal, and your company could be subject to a lawsuit or official complaint.

You refuse to admit this, you refuse to admit you might possibly be wrong, and your immediate reaction was to flip out, yell at the boss, and yell at the person who reported you (not "ratted you out", my dear). So of course no one would have told you to your face that your behavior made them uncomfortable - you're a loose cannon with a temper problem.

Your point didn't get across because you don't have one. You can only see your own point of view, and you are completely insensitive to anyone else not joining in your childish games.

Your company is getting a reputation, it's subject to complaints (and expense and maybe fines), and you want to call the boss to explain why this is a good idea to continue? You're asking to be fired.

I'd normally say that you should let it go, but I don't think you can. You want to use the defense that "everyone is doing it" - which is very adolescent. If you speak to your boss at all, it should be to request some employee training for all of you so you can learn to be more understanding. It does NOT help to tell the boss you can't get through the day unless you all act like children on April Fool's Day.

If you value your job, you need to change your behavior to a more professional outlook.

I know this isn't the answer you were looking for.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Pranks at work are not very professional even if it is mutual and harmless, so I think it would have been brought to attention eventually. You're there to do a job, not to play. The someone seeing it as bullying is a secondary issue, and you handled that poorly.

Flipping out when your boss tells you to not do these pranks is highly inappropriate. I think you're very lucky that you were not fired for it already. Becoming defensive and angry made you look bad and created a hostile work environment, so that is probably on record now too.

You need to apologize to your boss, to your coworker, and stop pulling pranks at work. Be an adult.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If this question is real - what are you, FIVE years old? You're at work. You should all be called into the office for a massive lack of professionalism. Go in and APOLOGIZE and act like a professional adult, not an immature high-schooler.

Of course, this question is so out there, I'm wondering if it's actually an immature high schooler, maybe the same one asking the pervy questions changing things up. If that's the case - go away.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You all play jokes constantly? That could be bullying if the person you are playing the jokes on doesn't want it and it goes on and on regardless.

I would NEVER go off on my boss. I can professionally get my point across even when I want to flip out - because I'm an adult.

Seriously, the economy SUCKS right now and my husband was unemployed for 9 months - that's a LONG time. It was horrible and will take us years to dig out from under it. Put on your big girl pants and go apologize for your behavior. Stop acting like a child at work and do your job. Trust me, there are millions of people out of work who would gladly do your job without messing with people. Be thankful you have a job.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Um, maybe I'm old or something, but I always thought at work, people should, you know, WORK!

Who has time for juvenile antics like this at work? I don't know how old you are or what kind of work you do, but this stuff seems more like something bored teens would do.

While it doesn't seem like bullying, this behavior certainly does not belong in the workplace, and it seems like you need more to do. If I were your supervisor, I'd take this to mean your current duties are not enough to keep you busy, and I would find more assignments to fill your

How would you feel if you lowered someone's chair and that person somehow misjudged the new position and fell? And perhaps broke an arm? Would it be so funny then?

Additionally, it is highly unprofessional to change anything on another co-worker's computer.
What if you "changed" something and some important work got lost? Just because you think it is a "joke," the recipient may not like her chair and her computer being tampered with. It's so disrespectful of you, and I think you owe her AND your boss a huge apology with an ironclad promise that nothing like this will ever happen again at work.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You are lucky they didn't FIRE you! Seriously, get a grip on yourself. You behaved like a silly child and now are super offended? Obviously, someone DIDN'T like it. Your behavior was unacceptable. And then to top it off, you "flipped" on your supervisor and then on the other person? You could be terminated for creating a hostile work environment lady. THAT is what could happen come Monday.

My suggestion and since I work in HR I would listen, Monday morning set up a meeting with your boss. Apologize up and down. Explain that you have had time to think and reflect and realize how your behavior was totally unprofessional and unacceptable. You can say "while I do not agree that I was bullying, as that was never my intent, I can see how someone else might see it was. I sincerely apologize for that." Apologize for your outburst to your supervisor and the other person as well. Personally, I would have suspended you and then terminated you. You are the reason you're in the mess. Your behavior and demeanor was NOT professional. Frankly, I really wouldn't care if you were upset or not. You created this not someone else.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

You need to apologize. Both to your supervisor and the "outsider".

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize this bothers people, we were just having a little fun. I see now how unprofessional this was. I won't do this anymore now that I know others don't like it. Really, I'm soooooo sorry.

I'm surprised you weren't fired.


10 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

The ladies are all right but I'm going to speak my piece anyway.

No. You are not "all adults". They may be- but you're not. Every single thing you have listed here tells me you are being immature, unprofessional, and most likely VERY distracting for your coworkers. And when YOUR SUPERVISOR corrects you (as they should) - you "flip out" on them and the person that brought it up? Quite honestly, you're lucky to still have a job, young lady. That was COMPLETELY out of line.

As far as your wondering what to do - DROP IT. Immediately. Keep your mouth shut, change your attitude and grow up. Or find another job. In my office you'd already be let go, so hopefully when you go in for your next shift you're not asked to turn in your badge and leave.

I imagine you are not liking any of these answers. Honesty is not always fun. But you're talking about how to get along in the real world. This is it. You don't get to make the rules. Do what you're told to do, or find another job.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Sounds like you should take a look at professionalism. Goofing off in the office? Not professional. Telling off the boss and others? Not professional. Apologizing for an outburst or what was perceived by others to be inappropriate? Professional. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. Just say it won't happen again and let it go.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Fully agree with B.
At the very least your response yesterday was Unprofessional. That's the kind of thing that gets noted in performance reviews. Someone was bothered by your behavior and reported it. I am guessing someone who had a joke played on them didn't find it so funny. Sometimes people say they find it funny when really they just want to get on with their work. Bullying may be too strong a word but it could mean someone felt obligated to participate in this horseplay. Who knows? It doesn't really matter. Your manager obviously was not impressed and wants the staff to feel comfortable at work. So I would have said sorry wasn't our intention to make anyone feel bullied it was just in fun, but will stop from now on. This is your boss - why on earth would you flip out on them? Or another coworker? I would probably apologize for my outburst. At very least let it go.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with the others. You are not paid to "horse around" you are paid to work. and the fact that you label a colleague an "outsider" tells me that you have childish cliques and whatnot at the work place. you could very well be terminated with good cause for your antics. Grow up and act like a professional adult during your work day. If you want to be a child after work, that's your choice.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Let it go because calling to explain your side is just going to make it worse.

Just because everyone else does something doesn't make it right. From this point on remember that you are at work. You are paid to do your job. Horse play is something left for children on a playground so grow up and stop it. I'm sorry that you were singled out (unfairly if others do the same thing) but having been singled out its time for you to set the example of how to act like a professional.

Fwiw I'll add that if someone changed the background on my computer or fooled around with the chair I'd be wondering how they had the time to do it. Plus who has time to reset everything? I'm all for fun and games because I use to be a team leader and always had a lot of fun stuff for my team members but what you all are doing would have had me pull everyone into a team meeting long ago.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

"everyone is doing it"? That sounds like a middle school response. Are you sure "EVERYONE" is doing it? Has anyone ever said NO, stop? If so, your continued actions could be construed bullying.

If you were my employee? You would be written up and possibly fired. I'd have to check with HR to make sure this can be done without negative recourse.

Your actions are that of a child. You are supposed to be an adult in a professional environment.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You probably don't realize that your actions, which likely includes loud laughter and a disruptive workplace is annoying to some people. But how can they not like to have fun? Some people prefer to put their heads down, get it done and move forward.

I'm sure bullying was a strong term. But are you making fun of people? Not including people? Since it's coming from an "outsider" perhaps you hurt some feelings.

Your response to the manager should have been to sit quietly and say it won't happen again. You're there to work, not play around. And I do think there is room for fun at work - when the timing is right. But to tell off the manager when you are being disciplined?? Really, who do you think you are. And yes, I do think you should call the boss back - to apologize. Move on.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you "flipped" you did not make your case. You need to apologize to the manager at least for not keeping your cool and being professional.

If you feel like you need to restate your point, I would very calmly write an email or ask to talk to the boss to clarify. Review and know the anti-bullying portion of your handbook. Be CALM and to the point. Accept that to an outsider who doesn't know your relationships with these people that it could look like bullying. Accept that perhaps someone is tired of the joke, or someone didn't take it the way intended and needs an apology. Accept that your joke may have bothered someone else other than the person it was intended for. Sometimes a joke runs out or falls flat, and you should accept that someone didn't see it the way you did. Tell the boss you have taken everything into consideration and will be more mindful for the future. And then consider carefully that these jokes are not enjoyed by everyone in your office and you would do best not to participate.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

I work in a public school and while we have our share of joking with one another, it is never in a demeaning manner. Basically, if you wouldn't say it to their face, don't say it. The giant red flag in your scenario was you "flipping out" when you were called on the behavior. You owe management an apology as well as the person who "ratted you out". Time to consider others feelings and take responsibility for acting immaturely.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

One of the things I have learned in life is that I like to eat. Yes. I said -like to eat. Meaning, even if I am l00 percent correct, know I am, others know I am, if someone who can eliminate my job by creatively accusing me or picking on me, or ratting on me or demeaning me, I better darn well figure out how to keep my fat mouth shut. It's called CYB or in lay person terms cover your boots. You know what I mean. If you value your job, acknowledge to this person you felt a little threatened at being identified as a bully and that you will be careful about what you are doing next time. Remember you aren't saying anyone else is right, or that you are a bully or that the office is boring, you are reassuring that you will eat again. see?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think the group of you are acting improperly at work.

To fix this you, as a group, need to go into the bosses office and apologize and let them know it will never happen again.

If I was your boss I'd probably call everyone involved in the office environment and have a meeting on professionalism and proper interactions in an office setting.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

instead of calling in, write a letter to your boss telling them exactly how you feel. now tear that letter up and write an apology note. give the boss the apology note. tdo the same for the tattling employee. in the future only prank the fellow office mates that want to be pranked. or don't prank at all.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My personal opinion...let it go and make sure you find another way to occupy yourself at work. I would probably alphabatize the supply shelf before I touched another employee's chair or computer.

It sounds like you said what you had to say and I wouldn't take it any further with management.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

What I would recommend is having a calm conversation with your manager. While I can understand that you were upset, but flipping out on her just isn't acceptable. Please apologize to your manager for your reaction and then figure out how to move forward.

Personally, I like those kinds of jokes in the workplace and agree that they can help pass the days. I used to have a job where several of us would do things like that too. Once, our coworker got to go on an amazing trip, paid for by our work. When she came back, we had hidden pictures of clowns (which terrify her) throughout her cube. Quite a laugh and certainly no hard feelings from her - she was known to dish it, too.

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