A reader writes:
Lately, several members of the office staff have been whispering about the disturbing exchange between two of my co-workers. Co-worker A is 20-something, tall and very thin. Co-worker B is 50-something, short and…well…not so thin. Recently, co-worker B received some disturbing news concerning her health from her physician. She was understandably upset when she told us about the doctor’s grim diagnosis the following day.
For some reason unbeknown to anyone else, co-worker A has taken it upon herself to impose a strict diet regimen upon co-worker B. Co-worker A is constantly scrutinizing everything that B consumes throughout the day. One day when B mildly objected to A’s intolerable hampering, A responded by saying “well, if you want to be alive for your son’s high school graduation, then you’ll learn to discipline yourself.” Co-worker B began to cry. This is merely one example as this type of behavior occurs almost daily. I think co-worker A’s constant berating is not only inappropriate, but also just mean. Should I say something to this self-appointed food police?
I would. Ideally your coworker would speak up for herself, but given that not everyone in the world is perfectly assertive, I’d speak up on her behalf. You have a bunch of choices, from “Wow, did you really just say that?” to “That’s incredibly out of line” to “In what way is what someone else chooses to eat your business?” You also don’t need to wait for it to happen again; you could address it preemptively by saying, “It makes me really uncomfortable to hear you criticizing another adult’s food choices. Could you leave her alone?”
Someone could argue this is none of your business, but since it appears to be happening right in front of you, I think you’re well within your rights to call out A on her behavior, and I think doing so would be an act of kindness toward B, who sounds like she might be in a vulnerable spot.
You can read an update to this post here.