new coworker is a rude know-it-all

A reader writes:

I have been working on a project for over a year, and over the last six months I have taken over the lead responsibilities. For the last year, our entire team of four has been women.

Several weeks ago, a new coworker, “Mark,” started. Mark has experience in our field and has worked on similar projects with other companies. He keeps telling our team that he has very high expectations/standards and what we are doing is not meeting them.

Without being asked, he made edits to the onboarding doc and other documentation. Some of these edits were correct but others were not or were unneeded since they are all internal documents. 

He has not learned all aspects of the project but keeps giving advice. Since I am the lead, a lot gets directed to me. He will ask the same questions many times or tell me information I know. I wrote most of the documentation and I have been working on this project full-time for a year. He has been condescending and rude to me. One one our calls, he even paused to tell us what confidential is! He will send questions like “just an fyi: Did you know coffee has caffeine??” It is simple and obvious stuff to people who have been on the project. 

He also “misunderstands” a lot. When he was asked comment on a doc, he rewrote it. When asked to send some links to someone on another team, he spent hours on a lengthy and unneeded memo. During his first week he asked me if he could take on some of the lead role because he has experience with other companies. I told him no.

When I push back, he backs off and seems apologetic. He’s definitely showing off and being an obnoxious know-it-all, but I can’t tell if this is because I am a woman or because he’s just rude. Is this just really subtle sexism or is he just a rude know-it-all?

I plan on letting his manager know some of these patterns I have noticed, but I would not want to say he’s being sexist without any evidence or proof. Do you have any advice?

His behavior certainly fits a very common sexist pattern; a man explaining things to a woman that she knows better than he does is so common that it’s got a name. But it’s also possible that he’s just a rude know-it-all.

In fact, either way, he’s a rude know-it-all. We know that much for sure.

If you really want to figure out if he’s sexist on top of it, you could look at the way he interacts with men outside your team. But for the purposes of telling him to stop and talking to his boss, it doesn’t really matter. Focus on the behaviors that need to stop, regardless of what’s causing them.

When you talk to his boss, explain what he’s doing, the time it’s wasting, the concerns it’s raising about his judgment, and how it’s alienating your team. If you want, you can add, “Frankly, the optics of a man coming in to a team of all women and acting this way make me wonder if he has issues working with women.” But it’s almost besides the point; the point is that his behavior is inappropriate, time-wasting, and rude and needs to stop.

(Of course, sexism is never really besides the point. It’s a huge thing and it can be helpful to name it. But in this case, the behaviors themselves are problematic enough that you can just report on them on their own.)

You also should push back assertively with Mark himself. All your coworkers have the standing to do this, but as the team lead you have particular standing to do it, and it’ll be good for your team members to see you doing it. So:

* When Mark makes unsolicited edits to something, say: “Oh, we didn’t need edits to this. I’ll let you know when that’s part of what we’re looking for.”  (I wouldn’t do this more generally; normally you want to welcome people’s input or at least not make them feel foolish for offering it. But in Mark’s case, you need to reinforce with him that he’s overstepping.)

* When Mark tells you/your team that he has high expectations that you’re not meeting (WTF?!): “What an odd thing to say when you’re so new.”

* When he tells you things you already know: Give him a strange look and say, “Well, of course. That’s something we all understand.” You can also address the pattern: “You’ve been giving a lot of advice that I’d describe as almost remedial, like X and Y. Has something given you the impression that we don’t have basics like that covered?” (You might feel rude saying this, because you’re probably a polite person. But Mark is being so over the line that you might need to be really direct to get through to him.)

* If he tells you what confidential means or that coffee has caffeine or anything else on such a basic level: “Are you really explaining to me what confidential means? Why?”

And consider having a big-picture conversation with him along the lines of, “You might not realize that you’re doing this, but you’re coming across as if you don’t think the rest of the team has any expertise. Everyone here works at a high level and has things like X and Y mastered. We didn’t hire your role to tell the rest of us what to do or how to do it; you are a peer with everyone else here, as well as being new and still learning about the team.” If you don’t feel you have the standing for that conversation, it’s fine to leave it to his boss — but some team leads do have the authority for that conversation so it depends on the dynamics there.

But yeah, loop in his boss and don’t pull any punches. Mark is being an ass and she needs to know.

{ 279 comments… read them below }

  1. Mel_05*

    What a nightmare. I’ve had a few coworkers who do this sort of thing occasionally – telling me the next step of my own job, when it’s something I do many times a day. But, I can’t imagine dealing with it constantly like that.

    1. throwaway123*

      I usually act like they just learned the “fact” they just told me. As in, “Oh wow! I’m so glad you learned that. I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s great to have someone else interested in it too! I can’t wait to teach you more about it sometime…”

      1. KateM*

        I was thinking the same – behave like you think he is telling this to everyone because it was something new he just learnt himself!

    2. JustaTech*

      I had a coworker do that to me just 10 minutes ago, all helpful like “hey, here’s the thing you have to do, I’ll leave you a reminder!” when it is something I have been doing for almost 10 years.

      I am trying really hard to not just say “do you think I am an idiot?”

      (I know she means well, I know she thinks she’s being helpful, I know we’re good work friends. And even then it’s annoying as all get out.)

  2. Rubes*

    My new report could easily become this guy some day. He responds to everything I tell him with “you’re actually right.”

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      That’s super annoying and probably hard to nip in the bud in the moment, but it’s probably worth a conversation about the optics of that? Ugh, he sounds like the worst! Good luck!

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Love when someone says that. “Shockingly, you actually know what you are talking about. Huh – go figure.” Urgh.

      1. Anon4This*

        Someone once called me “surprisingly helpful” in front of an executive team. I am still making cracks about it over a decade later. (No idea why it was a surprise, really, I was one of the highest performers on the team, the task was in my area of expertise, and I routinely got tapped for this sort of project. Shocker, indeed.)

        The full comment was even worse – it was something along the lines of, “I thought inviting you to this meeting would be a waste of time, but you’ve been surprisingly helpful!”. This was my boss’s boss, too, so it’s not like it was someone from another department who’d never heard of me before.

      1. Rubes*

        Thanks! I’ve read that column before but haven’t felt comfortable using the tips since technically he and I have the same job title and are close in age. I am his supervisor though…

        1. Observer*

          Age has absolutely no bearing on this. In the workplace, you are NOT peers. You are his supervisor and as such you have the standing to do this. In fact, I could argue that you have some obligation to address it.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Exactly. As superviser it is your job to — supervise. That means letting him know his behavior is not acceptable.

            1. irene adler*

              If not now, then down the line, someone is wishing that a person with authority will address the behavior. He may be your only report, but that doesn’t mean you see 100% of the offending behavior. Other employees may be fielding some of it. And they are just wishing an authority would put a stop to it.

          1. Rubes*

            I agree, but I’m not sure it’s worth the capital. The reason I say this is that very recent a different man on my team went over his female manager’s head to upper management to complain that she was “mean.” The mean thing his manager did? Rather snappishly tell him that he needed to prioritize making the changes she’d reminded him to make SIX times already. The upper management man actually started dialing into her team meetings to assess whether she was actually “mean” but told her that he was confused because she seemed “really sweet.” All this makes me nervous.

            1. Observer*

              So, document what is going on, and loop your boss in. This way if your Mark pulls this, management will have the context.

              1. tangerineRose*

                Maybe talk to management about this first, sort of talking through what you plan to do. People are more likely to agree with you if you run it by them first and get their input.

            2. EPLawyer*

              Don’t let the fact that some people are jerks who don’t like to be called on their behavior stop you from doing your job. Just make sure your tone is professional at all times. Don’t snap that you told someone to do something 6 times. Make your feedback clear at all times. Fergus, please make the corrections on this document. Fergus, as a reminder, the corrections on the document need to be done before you leave today.

              If you address it BEFORE it becomes a problem you are less likely to snap at them when you are finally so frustrated by their behavior.

            3. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Oh barf. I can see why you’re reticent to address it. Here’s hoping it goes better than you anticipate and that *your* boss has your back if your report gets huffy about it.

            4. Seeking Second Childhood*

              WHAT capital? You’re his supervisor! It’s your job to mold his behavior as well as his performance.

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                …. and this is also how you should present it to *your* supervisor. It’s not defensive on your part, it’s fulfilling your job duties. In a 100% professional fashion.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah, that’d be my move as well.

        Normally I don’t like putting anyone ‘on the spot’ like that. But this is a necessary exception.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        That’s great. I love how it addresses the problem with the response/comment.
        It so effectively indicates that the person is thinking on the wrong track, so if it’s an honest mistake (by which I mean a habit or something picked up from someone else) the speaker sees that it’s not the confirming response they meant.
        And if the speaker is an ass, it explains, without saying, “you sound like an ass” that they need to stop speaking like an ass.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      I’ve had coworkers do this to me. Generally middle-aged white men, and the response is usually either “Wow, you’re actually right!” in *that tone*. Generally, I met this with a “Yes, I know”.

      The worst one did this once on a call with Upper Upper Management on the line, in which one of the UUMs in a tone that was dry to the point of cutting said back that “yes, she usually is. That’s why she’s the expert.” *crickets from That Guy*

      I had to mute myself because I was chuckling a little too loud.

      1. Jay*

        I was on a training call a couple of years ago that was almost entirely women. The subject was something in which I have national-level expertise but I am not the SME at our organization (my choice – didn’t want a 24/7 leadership position). At one point the trainer asked for input and I made a suggestion. One of the few men in the group interrupted me and said “I don’t even know who is speaking. Who are you?” I introduced myself by name and role. He said “so?” I said “I’ve taught this approach at the national level for 20 years and trained the men who were in the demo video.” Don’t mess with me, bud.

    4. tangerineRose*

      You might say something like “I’m *actually* right? You sound surprised?” with a bit of eye roll in your tone.

    5. Lis*

      It’s probably an Irish turn of phrase but my instinctive response would be ” How do you mean actually right?” And depending on his response would then say “Oh I assumed from your tone you had a reliable source that said I wasn’t”

    6. pamela voorhees*

      “Sounds like from that response you were actually wrong. Do you want to spend some more time talking about how right I am, or should we move on?”

      (I want to pretend that I’d say this when my actual response would be screaming “STOP” at the top of my lungs or walking out of the room. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.)

  3. Hlyssande*

    Oof, that’s so incredibly annoying.

    Advice is on point – this pattern really does look like the classic ‘splaining women worldwide know and hate. But even if he’s genuinely clueless and rude, the behavior needs to stop.

  4. Hills to Die on*

    You might want to keep backups of things in your personal files in case he is editing in Google docs (for example) and changes the only other copy.

    1. Anonys*

      Honestly if I asked him to comment on a document and then he completely rewrote it, I would send him back the original document and say: “I’m sorry you went through all the effort of rewriting but you seem to have misunderstood my instructions and that’s really not what we need here – please make only comments on this document and don’t change anything yet. Can you get that done by Friday?”.

      I know that might seem overly petty – but he is ignoring direct work instructions from the lead. Right now I assume his thinking is “I know better and I’m going above and beyond” and I feel like he needs to learn that ignoring instructions is just going to lead to more work for him and is actually not at all helpful. Also, it probably creates more work for OP when she has to figure out what changes to keep. So give the work back to him! Of course this doesn’t really work if his rewrite actually majorly improved the document – but doesn’t sound like that is the case here.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        That doesn’t sound petty to me at all. It sounds very reasonable and helpful to everyone involved!

      2. Myrin*

        I don’t think that’s petty at all! Not least of all because while everything points to this not being the case in this particular instance, there are situations where someone royally misunderstands a directive like that and you’d send the exact same message to them also.

      3. Prof XYZ*

        I had the opposite problem on a project. A direct report set a google doc to only comments, when it’s my job to do final edits. When they told me they couldn’t finish a project on time to meet an unmovable deadline, I said that’s fine, I’ll do it myself–and then three times they insisted that I just send feedback while also reiterating that they would not meet the deadline, because they felt that only they could do it (I had done this exact project the year before, which is why I was the lead). I had to copy the document over to a new google doc I controlled so I could edit it myself and get it done (one day before the deadline).

      4. Quinalla*

        Agreed, I would and have done this as well with people who (in may case) were clueless oversteppers or wanted to show gumption and I really need them NOT to in whatever the case was. The fastest way for people to learn is to have an action/consequence associated with what you want them to learn. Think of it as helping him to learn faster if it seems at all petty as it really will. Fixing things other mess up does NOT help them learn, sometimes you have to because of time constraints, but if you have time, let him fix his own mistakes.

      5. ElleKay*

        Yes! Give the bad work back to him to fix/do what you asked him to do in the first place.
        It’s not petty and don’t let it make more work for you to fix his errors!

  5. Patty*

    He’s a mansplainer.. look up Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me”. It’s the origin of the term mansplaining and it’s exactly what this dude is doing to you and your team.

    1. Mephyle*

      Unfortunately, bringing in mansplaining puts some people’s backs up and blocks their mind to accepting legitimate criticism of the unwanted, unproductive behaviour they’re demonstrating. However, since the behaviour is unwanted and productive even if it had come from a place that has nothing to do with gender, it’s also possible to discuss and correct it without mentioning gender – Alison explicitly mentioned this in her answer.

      1. KHB*

        “Is it mansplaining?” and “Should I mention that it’s mansplaining when addressing the behavior?” are different questions that may have different answers. Even if you’ve already decided that the answer to the second question is no, it’s reasonable to want a separate answer to the first question, just for your own understanding of what’s happening to you.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Yeah the term “mansplaining” is very helpful to women because it puts a name to something that can otherwise be hard to put your finger on, and it helps us realize we’re not alone and that this is something a lot of people experience, and it’s probably not even personal (most of us would otherwise jump to, “oh no I must be somehow Doing Professional Competence wrong, I need to change myself!).

          But in conversation with the people who do it, it’s probably better not to use the term when you name the behavior because for many people it just gets their back up and they’re going to hear anything else after that.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, I was going to say something like this too. Even if it’s clearly sexism and/or mansplaining, I think it works better to just describe the behavior and say it must stop.

    2. anon73*

      While this was my first thought as well, OP needs to stick to his particular behavior when confronting him and meeting with his boss and stay away from terms like mansplaining. Being rude and condescending isn’t unique to any one gender, and labeling it as mansplaining or sexist will only make the OP’s complaints seem trivial when they are a very big deal. We also don’t know if OP has witnessed this behavior with others (of any gender) outside of his team. He could just be an asshole.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      He sadly suffers from correctile dysfunction….the need to correct women unnecessarily.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Condesplainer” is nicely gender-neutral. (And for what it’s worth, I’ve had a few female jerks who tried to pull the same sort of behavior with me. More men but not universally so.)

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    Ugh. He sounds exhausting. I honestly hope his manager ends up firing him over it — in my experience, trying to make someone like this change his behavior leads to, at best, just enough improvement to keep him from getting fired, but by then the coworking relationship is poisoned.

  7. PJ*

    We had a team that was mixed, genderwise, and a new employee very similar to “Mark.”

    We got very tired of the sentence “Well, when I worked at X we did THIS….”

    Sexism could definitely be in the mix. His ability to read social cues seems to be missing. It also sounds like he may be very inflexible with adapting to a new workplace.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I also suspect sexism to be in the mix. Maybe he’d *want* to do all those things to a team of four men, but there’s no way he’d have the courage to. With an all-women team, he thinks he can get away with it.

      1. Mel_05*

        I’ve known guys who did this same thing to men. A former coworker got fired because he kept doing it to the C-Suite (all men) and they were sick of it. Some people are just arrogant and oblivious.

        But, it is sexism often enough to be looking out for it.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Let me explain mansplaining to you. (You are welcome, in advance.) We do it to each other all the time. We get a visceral thrill from explaining stuff, regardless of the sex of the lucky recipient. This is why we hate asking for directions. It is the mansplaining equivalent of rolling onto our backs with our paws in the air. My heart leaps a little if I get to tell someone how to find the bathroom. One day a guy walked into the office and was confused because we weren’t his lawyer, whose name he didn’t know. I asked him what sort of legal matter he had, and based on that walked him to the right practice and handed him off to the receptionist. It made my entire week! Sports trivia is mansplaining as competitive sport. Know useless stuff like what pitcher has the most World Series wins and you get mansplaining points.

          To do this well, you need to both (a) get your facts right, and (2) have facts the other person doesn’t know, and (C) have facts the other person finds at least modestly interesting. This last is why I suck at baseball trivia. All my really good items are from the 19th century, which the vast majority of baseball fans don’t care about.

          This is all great fun, but becomes a problem when there is a power imbalance. That is where you get bad mansplaining, violating one or more of the precepts of good mansplaining. If your uberboss does this at you, you can’t really respond properly. Society traditionally imposed a similar imbalance between men and women. Even when there is no genuine power imbalance, some of the more clueless dudes act as if there were. This is my critique of classic mansplaining: the poor execution.

          1. Tau*

            Hmm. Do you really not see the difference between the things you mention and what the OP is talking about, or what the original post by Rebecca Solnit that described the term is talking about, or what so many of the discussions of mansplaining explain? Because there’s a wide gulf between explaining useless sports trivia and explaining basic, junior-level work matters to peers. Or, to take the example from Rebecca Solnit’s story, waxing eloquent about a specific subject matter based on having heard about (not even read. heard about.) a book about it to that book’s author.

            The problem with mansplaining isn’t the man part or the explaining part, it’s the presumption of incompetence on behalf of the other party. That’s really annoying in and of itself, and when it slides into the work realm it’s a *huge* problem – if New Guy presumes his colleagues are all incompetent that won’t go anywhere good. OP needs to nip that in the bud stat.

              1. Coldbrewinacup*

                Lol, I was thinking the same thing!!!

                Any time you start off by saying “Let me explain to you…”, that is a giveaway!

          2. Temperance*

            No, that’s not mansplaining, and y’all don’t do it to each other. I will agree that many men do like the sound of their own voices, but you don’t automatically discredit other dudes as less smart, educated, and knowledgeable than you are. Mansplaining is when a man talks over a woman to “educate” her about something that she already knows, often incorrectly, too.

            There *is* also a “genuine power imbalance” between the sexes; there’s a reason that Justice Ginsburg shocked people when she suggested that only 9 women on the Court would be enough, or why we haven’t ever had a woman president.

            1. introverted af*

              And even if men did do this in friendships – did Richard Hershberger really not know that not all social behavior among friends is acceptable in the workplace?

            2. comityoferrors*

              That ingrained patriarchal perspective is strronnngggg.

              My boyfriend is a generally fair, conscientious, “woke” person who does a lot of navel-gazing. During a(nother) conversation in which he trashed a friend’s choices and blamed that friend’s girlfriend/wife, I gently mentioned that he often seems to judge women much more harshly than he judges men. This was not a new observation I made; we’ve lived together and been stuck in our house together for 5 months, so I’ve seen a lot of it over the last few months and had seen it before.

              His immediate response was “no I don’t”, followed by “I just judge significant others more because they’re not my friends” (why did you say X about the woman at the store, then?) “I say that about everyone, it’s not just women” (you don’t say X about men unless you’re really, really angry) “no…no, I’m not like that, I judge everyone the same”. End of that conversation!

              I know he’s a good guy and he would never intentionally be biased against someone for gender/race/religion/etc. He’s strongly in favor of equity in society and we have many conversations about how to achieve that, where systems fall short…and yet, when faced with the mere suggestion that he might be part of those systems, he shut down and refused to consider it as a possibility. He also mansplains occasionally, and although he responds well when I rebuke him in the moment, if I bring up that pattern he will insist it’s not a gendered thing, it’s just that he wants to help, blah blah blah. Even when I’ve seen him have identical conversations with men that did not involve mansplaining.

              When you hear from outside perspectives that your actions vary from person to person, and your response is to cover your ears and go “nope that’s not true, I treat everyone exactly the same” — well, it makes me doubt that you’re able to be objective about your actions, and makes me sure that you won’t dig deeper into that impulse.

              1. Silvermoonlight*

                It sounds like you should have a frank discussion with your boyfriend about this. In my experience, people who shut down at the suggestion of something that contradicts their own self-image have psychological problems. Like there’s a dichotomy between what they THINK they’re projecting and what they’re actually projecting. Worst still if their response to constructive criticism is to shut down and deny. I’ve met too many people like this. It starts slow with small things, but generally escalates into bigger differences. A man who is truly supportive of equality between the sexes shouldn’t have any problem hearing feedback that he’s being sexist.

              2. anon for sure for this*

                This is what I’ve learned the hard way: the goodness of a person is essentially irrelevant to these habits they’ve picked up and persist in.

                My husband is a good person, I do believe that. He definitely reacts to women journalists and singers quite differently than men journalists and singers; he’s one of those people who often “doesn’t like her voice”. It definitely has a genre- and thus racially-tied component too. He says and believes he’d never consciously be sexist or racist. Doesn’t keep him from projecting all kinds of his internal stuff on others. Guess that’s why they call them “blind spots”.

                But this is one reason that while “mansplaining” is helpful as a name for a phenomenon, because by naming a phenomenon we can help people connect the dots and understand a pattern, it’s also fairly useless in changing peoples’ behavior from the outside. Almost all people work backward from doing things to arguing that they did the thing they did because it was the right thing to do (rather than working forward from ‘right thing to do’ to ‘action I will take’). Humans justify our actions after the fact with reasoning. So it’s ineffective to argue with the reasoning. It’s more effective to intervene directly with the action, and most effective to intervene in the action with something structural that makes it easy to take the better action. That’s why making seatbelt use a habit has decreased road deaths; opt-out always works better than opt-in in getting people to sign up for stuff; ensuring that you have a diverse applicant pool and have a consistent checklist for evaluating hires reduces discrimination; etc. Even “good people” make decisions driven by unconscious emotions and that’ll just always be true for humans.

            3. pamela voorhees*

              Sidenote — You also shouldn’t educate women about something that they don’t know about unless they ask you. Mansplaining is a man assuming a woman is uneducated and lecturing her on something she knows more about, just like everyone else has said, but it’s still exceedingly sexist to assume that you are all women’s heaven-sent teacher on whatever topic you happen to know about.

              Example: I bought 3D printed models for my friend Jay, and when I gave Jay his gift at his birthday party another dude I barely know decided to lecture me on 3D printing. I know nothing about 3D printing, and I don’t want to know. I don’t care. This dude just decided it was his god-given right to start speaking at a woman and have her admire how “”clever”” he was. A woman may not know something, but that doesn’t mean you get to assume she’ll be SO FASCINATED to hear about your random nonsense. I don’t know what pitcher has the most World Series wins and I swear to every god that if you try to talk to me about that I’ll claw my own face off. You can be condescending without being mansplaining.

          3. JayNay*

            allow me to womansplain your explanation of mensplaining (ha!). the point of mansplaining is that the explainer DOESN’T have information the other person does not have. I believe Rebecca Solnit coined the term after someone explained her own book back to her, all the while refusing her attempts to interrupt him to say that SHE ACTUALLY WROTE THE BOOK.
            It’s not just the power imbalance, it’s the aura of superiority because the other person is a woman.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Sure. That is (2) on my list. My point, in all seriousness, is that man-on-woman mansplaining is a subset of a more general trait common to many men (and less often, some women). Consider all the discussion wondering if this guy does it to other men, and the observation that it doesn’t really matter. If he only does it at women, that tells us he considers women easier targets. But the underlying trait isn’t really any different from the boss using his employees as a captive audience.

              1. EnfysNest*

                “Mansplaining” has a specific meaning from Rebecca Solnit, who coined the term, and it refers specifically to men explaining things without prompting to women who are actually more knowledgeable about the subject than the speaker. Men showing off knowledge to other men in a mutual “contest” is not mansplaining. You do not get to redefine a word that already has a meaning.

          4. Mizzle*

            I’m not sure what you’re describing is really ‘mansplaining’, but I do recognize this pattern that you’re describing and it might explain why men are more prone to mansplaining than women. (Also, I enjoyed your description.) In this light, it seems more like a faux pas than a jerk move. An interesting perspective. Thanks!

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              My contention is that man-on-woman mansplaining is best understood as a subset–a particular manifestation–of a broader phenomenon. It can be sexist if the perpetrator views women as easier targets, but it is likely that he will do this with anyone he thinks he can.

              1. Ladybugger*

                You’re thisclose Richard. Anyone he *thinks he can*. Who is it that is broadly the recipient of behaviour men only do with populations where they *think they can get away with it*?

                1. anon for sure for this*

                  While I think that things are being hashed to hashbrowns here, I think it’s true and useful to recognize that sexism and racism and religious discrimination are often in the US crimes of opportunity, casual weapons in societal and interoffice discourse.

                  Too often we phrase all these -isms as matters of ideological commitment, so people can tell themselves they’re not that bad because they’re not ideologically committed to white supremacy or male supremacy. They can’t be doing anything that bad because they’re not trying to take the vote away categorically from (whoever). No, we should recognize that these are casual and opportunistic evils, sometimes just done for fun or because someone can. Sexism, racism, etc *are* usually wielded “with anyone he think he can”, and so guys figure it’s not a big deal :) it’s not like they really believe that stuff.

                  “The ax forgets; the tree remembers”

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  “hashed to hashbrowns”
                  :: sneaks off to the corner and chortling over using this phrase in her next team meeting ::

              2. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

                Have you ever heard the expression “self-aware wolves”? Because my eyes just rolled so hard my cat is now chasing them.

          5. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            So you are saying that when women report that a “mansplaining” phenomenon exists and attribute it to sexism, they are incorrect for the following reasons: First, women do not assess men’s motivations correctly and without bias. Second, women do not observe the interactions between pompous high-status men and low-status men. If women did witness such interactions and assess male motivations without subjective bias, they would see that men are engaging in a universal, non-gendered, human urge to explain things to people, and that this universal impulse is only perceived as problematic in certain contexts.

            Have I correctly stated your argument?

          6. Ladybugger*

            Holy god, please go back in time and untype this, what an obnoxious comment to make. Men don’t have any secret motivations we don’t know about, when you do this you’re just being boring and rude. (And yes, sports trivia is a CLASSIC mansplaination ‘sport’ AND THAT IS WHY IT SUCKS.)

          7. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Re: (2) have facts the other person doesn’t know,
            He *does not* do this. He’s trying to *tell his team lead* things that are basic about the field.
            I have no more spoons for this.

          8. tamarack and fireweed*

            Ya know, if you want to mansplain mansplaining at least do it well. It would be helpful to have a basic grasp of the concept.

            Are you the guy the OP is complaining about, by any chance?

            1. Idril Celebrindal*

              Yeah, no mansplainer will ever mansplain the term well, then he might have to confront the realization of what he is doing. And since he is *obviously * so much smarter/more knowledgeable/better informed, he couldn’t possibly be mansplaining, which means that the pertinent definition is “something that is not what I am doing.”

            1. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

              this whole thread reads like some horrifying fall down a rabbit hole that’s actually an endless loop

    2. The Rural Juror*

      I had a similar coworker who was the newest hire. “Well THIS is the way we did it as Old Company.” Well, you don’t work for Old Company anymore, just stop! It’s one thing to say, “I’ve had experience doing it this way and it worked well in the situation at the time. Is it something you want to try?” The other way just makes you sound like a know-it-all jerk…

    3. Atlantian*

      Ugh, I used to work at a place/job that chronically hired these people. We got very sick of saying “well, we could tell you all the legal reasons why Old Job was actually wrong and we are correct, but I do not have time for that. Please, just do it the way I told you.” every time we had to train someone new. It was exhausting. Also, gave me pause about working for any of those other companies, ever, and when I needed to leave place/job, I ended up leaving the field entirely.

    4. Alison*

      I’ve also been wondering if “Mark” is very young. My experience with young men in their first or second job out of college has been similar to OP’s. In that case though it definitely has come off as over eagerness, wanting to go “above and beyond” and wanting to prove themselves. One person told me when I addressed this with him that he had been taught “If you aren’t doing more than you were asked you aren’t doing enough.” I had to explain that that wasn’t how it was going to work at this job. Some young people are being taught to be really agressive at their new jobs to prove something. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but I’m not particularly old (32) and the mindset of those just starting their careers now seems very different from 10 years ago.

    5. TeapotNinja*

      My current manager is doing this all the time. Really annoying particularly when the work she’s usually referring to has very little to do with whatever problem she’s trying to apply her previous experiences to.

      It has become a sort of a “one time at band camp” type of an inside joke within the team.

    6. nonethefewer*

      It all reminds me of Phoebe from The Magic School Bus. “At my old school, we never used to shrink down to the size of ants to learn about the endocrine system!” (After the 50th repetition of this, I’m all “then go BACK to your OLD SCHOOL, Pheebs!!” But that’s life with a toddler.)

  8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Yeah. I was trying to show my anxious dog that there was no need to freak out over the refuse collectors outside the shop. The shop manager stopped to watch me, then specifically drew my attention to tell me “your dog has anxiety”. Dude, that’s why I’m working with him right here right now.

  9. HailRobonia*

    We used to have a “Mark” in our office. He wasn’t even on my team, but had all sorts of various duties and along the way got himself project management certification. I didn’t begrudge him that achievement, but he suddenly swooped in to our team trying to improve our processes without us asking for it. He had little familiarity with our processes but wanted to show the Big Boss that he was contributing to the whole office. I am always interested in improving things, of course, but his meddling just took up time and was during our busiest period.

  10. Chauncy Gardener*

    A tweet I saw on HuffPost a while back hits the nail on the head:
    “I just saw someone refer to mansplaining as “correctile dysfunction” so please excuse me while I laugh hysterically for 6 hours”

    1. Batty Twerp*

      Well, I guess my keyboard was overdue a coffee cleaning. I may have also burnt my nose snort-laughing!

          1. inksmith*

            I also heard it as “what did the mainsplainer die of?” “He fell down the well, actually”.

    2. Temperance*

      See also: he-peating, which is when a man repeats and idea circulated by a woman, and takes credit for it.

      1. MtnLaurel*

        My response to he-peating…a deadpan “That’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of it?” “Oh, wait….”

  11. Annony*

    This is great timing. I could have written this exact letter a couple of weeks ago. In my case, we did find out that he acts the same around men as he did around me and my boss (both women) but that doesn’t actually make it easier to deal with. One thing that has helped is to take him aside when he does things like try to tell me that coffee has caffeine and direct him to some resources to come up to speed since the knowledge is so basic. Most of it seems to be stemming from the fact that he thinks he knows more than us, so if he didn’t know it he assumes we don’t either.

    1. Double A*

      Ahahaha I love this. “You seem to pointing out basic facts, so here’s some remedial information to make sure you’re up to speed with the rest of us.”

    2. Generic Name*

      Oooh, that last sentence. I think it would be worthwhile to say point-blank, “You’re acting like you assume we don’t know something if you don’t know it. Have you considered we know more about Subject than you do?”

    3. anon73*

      A lot of times people like this are very insecure, and they try to make up for it by acting knowledgeable about things, and just come across as pompous asses.

  12. Detective Amy Santiago*

    My honest advice is to punch him in the d*ck though I know that is not useful or professional in any way.

    But maybe visualize doing it? Might make you feel a little better.

    1. Not On A Break*

      I ‘m trying to think of a scenario where commenters on this site would suggest — even in jest — to physically assault a female coworker. Not coming up with anything.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I agree. I understand the frustration but perhaps a better expression of that would be a better choice.

      2. Delaney*

        You must be new here, then. It’s happened. Multiple times. Stop stretching to make a point and just say what you want to say.

      3. Don*

        Why don’t you apply this whine energy towards correcting our fellow men who are so ubiquitous in their crappy behavior towards women that we have a term for their sexist condescension, rather than being petulant about a passing expression of frustration? Because otherwise you’re going to have to repeatedly read just how ridiculous you are for drawing a parallel to violence by men against women when that is 10,000x more common.

        1. Not On A Break*

          I have no doubt women are more likely victims of violence than men. I also don’t think that justifies any violent act, regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Yeah, you can’t fix his correctile disfunction (chauncey gardner above) with a quick kick in the zip.

  13. lou who*

    These obnoxious actions are often the sign of someone who feels insecure about being new or not knowing the intricacies of what they’re doing, so they bluster about trivial errors. Wish the person could express their emotions better, but they have some of my sympathy.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      This was my thought too. I isn’t a justification for their actions and clearly impedes other people having a positive impression of him. It definitely screams insecurity to me.

      1. some dude*

        I thought the same thing, while also thinking he is being a massive tool and needs to be shut down.

  14. Princess Leia's Left Hand Bun*

    There was a man who talked over me on our first ever conversation, saying “I’ve been on this programme 3 weeks, let me explain to you what this ((type of technical document)) really is”. I’d been managing the review board he was trying to get onto for 18 months at that point

    I will always treasure the reaction of my boss as he overheard that line. Not just the immediate mimed strangling gesture, but the very firm “take this away and do it again to standard” reply Mr. “let me tell you” got for every submission thereafter.

      1. Princess Leia's Left Hand Bun*

        That someone had my back immediately was such a benefit.

        Other times I’ve had to deal with things like that on my own, and I waste so much time and energy second-guessing things.

  15. MissGirl*

    I would be so tempted to lean in to this. Mark, tell me about this thing called caffeine. Con-fi-den-tial, am I saying this right? Can you use it in a sentence?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’d go sarcastic back.

      “Coffee has caffeine? Oh my gosh, really? I just learned last week that it has dihydrogen monoxide – did you know about that?”

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’d be tempted to say “Yes and water is wet. Why are you saying this like it’s a huge surprise?”

    2. JustMyImagination*

      I’d lean in the other way…

      Mark: FYI- coffee has caffeine
      LW: Yes, Mark. Here’s some information about the other project funadamentals. Please make sure you read them before the next meeting so you’re on the same page as the rest of the team.

  16. Crivens!*

    This is somewhat spiteful, but it always helps me to remember that sexist dudes like this behave that way because they are so hamstrung and receptive to fragile masculinity that they just can’t handle anything that feels like the tiniest threat to their ego. Their lives are probably pretty miserable. And frankly, that’s what they get.

    1. BasicWitch*

      At least it’s a colleague and not a boss. I had a boss who would ask me to do a thing and then get really bent out of shape when I… did the thing he asked. It was really confusing until I realized his expectation was that I would fail, and I kept disappointing him.

      1. Artemesia*

        This just makes me feel so very lucky. After I lost my job in a merge, I managed to get a contract gig with a research institute and was asked to do a ‘thing’ — it was fairly simple to get done — involved contacting cold numerous experts across disciplines and getting them in a room together for a grant project. ho hum. After I put 20 experts in a room for the CEO of the institute, he came to me and said something like ‘we have been trying to get this done for years and no one has ever managed to make it happen — how did you do that?’ I didn’t know it was hard. It wasn’t really. but it was the step that put me back on track for the next 40 years of my career. Your experience reminds me how lucky I have been to avoid a lot of the sexist crap that most women have to deal with — not ALL of it, but most of it. I think you had his number here.

    2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I guess? But maybe they could deal with their s*** the way the rest of us deal with ours – without making it a massive, exhausting, constant, demoralizing burden for half of humanity?

      I don’t get any satisfaction out of thinking that mansplainers are threatened or sad. I don’t want them to be miserable. I just want them to zip it.

    3. Temperance*

      Eh, no need to reframe the behavior to make it more palatable. Their lives probably actually aren’t that bad if this nonsense is going unchecked; that means that this bad behavior has been rewarded.

  17. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    “Hey Mark, when you explain basic common sense things like coffee has caffeine, we all wonder whether…or maybe not…your playing stupid. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

  18. Myrin*

    How incredibly obnoxious.

    It’s good to hear that you’re planning on talking with his manager but I don’t think you need to focus so hard on whether you can say with 100% certainty that his behaviour stems from sexism or something else – I’d personally be very in favour of your mentioning Alison’s “Frankly, the optics…” sentence but I don’t think you absolutely have to to get your point across.

    I’m also a huge fan of big picture conversations and I really hope you’ll be able to have one with Mark. I think there’s something very powerful about basically saying “I’ve been observing this thing for [length of time] in x and y ways. Yes, I’m onto you. Don’t think no one notices it and you can just get away with it.”, but that might just be me.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Definitely the big picture conversation. If you just correct in the moment, he will only correct that one thing. Remember he is doing this under the guise of being “helpful.” It isn’t but that’s his justification. I can bet you dollars to doughnuts that he will in fact say “I was just trying to help” when you call him out on his behavior.

      So if you say don’t do X, he will stop doing X because he sees the “helpful” excuse isn’t working. But he will then do Y because that’s still okay to do. You have to do the big picture so he sees ALL of his behavior is really unprofessional, not acceptable and he is not being a team player.

      1. AKchic*

        “Is it ‘helpful’ to make yourself look condescending or foolish when you make it seem like you’ve just recently learned that coffee has caffeine, or that you think that your coworkers don’t know what ‘confidential’ means? Because to others, at best you look incredibly naïve, or at worst, like a sexist prig who is trying to undermine his supervisor and coworkers. We have all been patient and hoped that it was temporary, nerves, or once-off behaviors, but it has continued, so now I am doing you a kindness by bringing it to your attention and telling you that it does need to stop, because it doesn’t ‘help’ anyone and is actively hurting your own image.”

        50/50 chance he’ll get defensive and passive aggressive; or he’ll actually take your words to heart and change enough to make things better. If he doesn’t get better and continues down his stubbornly wrongheaded path, then at least you can say you did try and he can’t honestly claim he had no idea what was wrong with his behavior(s).

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Seconding this – the motivation isn’t worth speculating on, and focusing on that could derail the conversation.

      Rather, point out the problematic behaviour and the impact it has on the team and productivity. THAT is something that is evident, quantifiable, and obvious. It’s also a lot easier for the manager to deal with.

  19. anonymousbanana*

    I (pronouns: she/her/hers) actually left a job that was pretty plum because of a Mark-type. He was not my direct report, but he interacted with the team I was managing a lot. At first, he gave unsolicited suggestions during meetings. Then he escalated to rage-y hallway confrontations with me where he berated me for not following through on his suggestions. He would tell my direct reports to cease working on projects that he didn’t like and would assign them different tasks. It was frequent and exhausting and none of my firm boundary-setting made an iota of difference. Mark did not treat our executive director this way so she refused to believe he was so awful. One thing that drove me crazy was that I could never tell if he was an all-purpose asshole or a misogynist. For some reason I can’t fully explain, I needed to know. There were several women with doctorates, masters degrees, and years of professional experience and somehow this White dude with a BA and far less years in our field thought he should be the boss of us all. He legit seemed angry that we didn’t all just fall in line.

    I quit with no job lined up.

      1. anonymousbanana*

        Not really. I’m far more in touch with several other places where I worked previously. I kind of let this one drop because it was too upsetting to think about for a while…

    1. Miss Demeanor*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. You shouldn’t have had to go through that. It’s so infuriating when people deny incidents of misogyny because they haven’t witnessed it, because they “know so-and-so” wouldn’t ever be like that, or hasn’t happened directly to them. The thing is, I bet they *have* witnessed it and didn’t or don’t have the tools to identify it. Or they just willfully ignore the misogyny because they just don’t want to believe it exists, since acknowledging it would potentially dismantle the structures that gave them privilege.

      1. anonymousbanana*

        Thank you for saying so! The ironic part was my ED would tell me stories over coffee about being mistreated by male colleagues when she was an assistant professor. So she knew what it felt like. I think she wanted to believe that she was a good judge of character.

        1. irene adler*

          Management not acknowledging the Mark-like person also means management doesn’t have to take action.
          So it’s easier for them. Sure, they have to listen to you complain about the guy, but that’s way easier than PIP, or suspension, or discipline, or firing.

          Which makes it only more aggravating!

          (Management here listens to all our complaints about the bully. And responds with “we can’t do anything about him” (for many years, management owned this company-so that’s baloney!). He does get the product out the door-which they value. )

          1. anonymousbanana*

            So frustrating when people ‘listen’ but do nothing. It’s not really listening, then, is it…?

        2. TexasRose*

          Alternately, the jerk kept himself in check in front of the ED because he was adept at kiss-up, kick-down. (Just saying…)

    2. knitcrazybooknut*

      When anyone thinks, Oh, he would never do that, there are two words missing from the end of that sentence: He would never do that TO ME.

      What you have witnessed is how this person has decided they can behave in front of you. You have NOT witnessed the person interacting with anyone else in private. If you have status and power, you have no idea how they interact with people who do not.

      This is one of the reasons that receptionists/administrative assistants should be consulted whenever an applicant comes for an interview. How were they treated by the applicant?

      1. anonymousbanana*

        Yes! Would never do that TO ME is right. I guess I just expected that I would be believed by a woman who claimed to have experienced similar power games. Some of the things I was experiencing… it would never occur to me to make them up; I don’t believe I have the imaginative capacity, honestly. Some of the things that set off my “Mark” were so weird.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        This is also another excellent way of determining whether a person can control their behaviour or not – if they’re selective about how they act this way towards, it’s deliberate (or at least, they feel they can get away with it).

    3. Blackcat*

      Back when I was interviewing for faculty jobs, I had one an interview at a department filled with jerks. So. Many. Jerks. I didn’t get the offer, but I was hoping I wouldn’t, because one does not turn down tenure track faculty jobs.

      I talked about it with my department chair at the time, and he pointed out that male dominated toxic environments are almost always harder on the women than the men (and on BIPOC than white people). People who are jerks are highly likely to be extra jerk to anyone they see, consciously or unconsciously, as beneath them. That “beneath” can be hierarchy, implicit-bias, or overt bias driven, but any of those will have a disparate impact on women and BIPOC.

      Just because someone is an asshole to everyone does not mean they aren’t *also* a misogynist. Even if they treat everyone like shit, it often happens they treat women with an extra heaping of shit.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        This is a great comment! Yeah – the kind of people who are constantly playing dominance games are not the kind to pass up any advantage, even if it’s a morally repellent one.

  20. KHB*

    The way I see it, he’s 100% being sexist, whether he would treat a team of men the same way or not. Because the fact of the matter is, he’s not on a team of men – he’s on a team of women, and he’s acting like he, a man, is the only one who can find his derriere with both hands. That behavior falls into a sexist pattern, and it has sexist effects – undermining all the women on the team in favor of all the men – whether he means it to or not. A lot of people who do sexist things don’t mean to be sexist, and a lot of them are also jerks to other people in other contexts for other reasons. It doesn’t make their sexist behavior not sexist.

    Of course, the question of “Is it sexism?” is secondary to the question of “What do we do about it?” But it’s part of what OP asked, so for her peace of mind, I can say: Yes, absolutely, it’s sexism, and it’s not at all subtle.

    1. Paperwhite*

      The way I see it, he’s 100% being sexist, whether he would treat a team of men the same way or not. Because the fact of the matter is, he’s not on a team of men – he’s on a team of women, and he’s acting like he, a man, is the only one who can find his derriere with both hands.

      Well and truly said.

    2. anon73*

      I disagree. If he was on a team of both genders and treated everyone the same way, he’s not being sexist to the women, he’s just being an asshole to all. It’s completely possible that he is a sexist mansplainer, but when talking to Mark and Mark’s boss OP needs to focus on the behavior and not the labeling of it.

      1. The Engineer*

        Yup. He’s a d*ck. He just happens to have one too. Keep the focus on the improper / insubordinate behavior. The ‘why’ he behaves like this is really irrelevant to you as a boss (or co-worker – to generalize).

        Gamma’s gonna gamma.

  21. Mockingjay*

    OP, he doesn’t want his job. He wants your job.

    Shut him down or he’ll sabotage a great team.

    1. fposte*

      It’s the “he doesn’t want his job” thing that I’m inclined to focus on. He seems to be spending an awful lot of time on things that aren’t his job. If OP has the standing to raise that, I think it’s a point worth making. If you genuinely need something to do, Mark, I’m sure we can find something that would actually contribute.

    2. irene adler*

      The “high expectations” comment made me think this too.

      There may be arenas that welcome this sort of thing, but this job/team/dept isn’t one of them.

      1. Artemesia*

        And if he gets the ear of the boss and is seen as someone ‘who has high standards’ and might be able to improve the standards of the team, he could well seriously undermine the OP. She needs to reflect on the quality of what the team is doing — but separate that from his behavior. Just because he is a jerk does not mean he is entirely wrong — maybe, but not necessarily. but someone like this CAN worm their way upward and do real damage to you.

        I know someone who came into a department and ended up getting half the staff fired. He was actually right about his assessment of their work and they had been carried for years. Newbies are not always wrong — but this guy may be dead wrong and still get the ear of management, especially men, above you so I’d be very careful to pre-empt that and also make sure there are no grounds for criticism.

    3. it's me*

      That’s what I was thinking too. Probably assumes he can magic himself into your role, which is the one he was apparently hoping he’d be getting.

  22. staceyizme*

    Your new guy seems to have trouble reading the room (deliberately) and doesn’t play well with others. I’d marginalize him insofar as you can and escalate his pattern of antics to his boss, including the fact that you’ve raised the issue, but he seems prone to repeating errors over and over. (And violating team or operational norms IS an error.)

  23. Sharon*

    This can also happen when you insert a high performer into a mediocre team that’s just going through the motions, so consider whether this dynamic applies in your situation (maybe not – Mark could just be a jerk!). Perhaps Mark previously worked at a job where making suggestions and taking on extra work that seemed to need doing was welcomed and valued. Is your team open to new ways of doing things, or are you more entrenched in preserving the status quo than achieving business objectives effectively?

    Regardless, Mark should be coached in how to provide feedback and ideas in a more effective manner so as not to alienate his coworkers.

    1. wordswords*

      No, though?

      Absolutely, being a high performer on a mediocre team that’s slacking is a frustrating thing, and might eventually lead to condescension and “ugh what if I just REDO this” slipping through — though that’s not a productive response, and is a sign that it’s long past time for the high performer to move on one way or another, before they have to spend a long time unlearning the bad habits they’ve given themselves.

      But this kind of condescension and rudeness? Especially right out of the starting gate? Explaining confidentiality to your team lead?? This is the opposite of high performance. It might or might not stem from bad habits from a previous job, sure, but none of this reads to me as a sign that anyone but Mark needs to rethink how they do their job.

    2. hbc*

      This is absolutely not what a high performer does in a mediocre team. This is what someone who *thinks* he’s a high performer does when he is mostly just overly confidant and himself not “open to new ways of doing things.”

      An actual high performer will say, “Hey, I noticed that X and Y aren’t covered in the onboarding manual, but it was part of my training. Would it be helpful if I drafted a section to include that?” A high performer surrounded by mediocre people won’t just say “Coffee has caffeine” unless someone has just said “Coffee has no caffeine.” But they might respond to someone saying “I have a cup of coffee before bed and I don’t know why I can’t sleep” with “Unless it’s decaf, you could be reacting to the caffeine.”

      Basically, a high performer knows how to work with (and sometimes around) mediocre performers without stomping all over them.

    3. Jaybeetee*

      Even if the team does poor work in some way, a new person coming on board in what sounds like a junior position, taking on an “I’m gonna straighten these guys out!” attitude, is way, way, inappropriate and still says more about Mark than it does about them.

      I’ve been the new person on a work team that I’ve quickly figured out was a gong show. I… did not do what Mark is doing.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      That’s…going to encourage his bad behaviour, not put a stop to it. When someone is acting this far out of line it’s important to put a halt to it, not try and accommodate it or even worse, make out like he’s actually in the right.

      (Even if they were a bad team, which I’m not seeing, there’s no excuse for his behaviour)

      1. fposte*

        And even if he’s a high performer in some areas, he’s very not good at key parts of the job. It can be tempting to disregard the parts of a job we’re not good at, but understanding the assignment and not being a jackass are part of the work too.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          The so-called ‘soft skills’ of not annoying everyone around you are just as important as being able to do the technical part of a job :)

          1. fposte*

            Yup. I can’t remember if it was Alison herself or somebody else here who pointed out that you are getting paid to get along with people you work with.

    5. Anon500*

      Nope. High performers tend to keep their heads down in mediocre teams. People who bark the loudest about their way being the right way or gunning for power with little tenure tend to err on the side of being mediocre performers.

      Besides the fact that you are looking to insult the letter writer, it is obvious you don’t have experience reading workplace situations as well as you think you do.

    6. Observer*

      This can also happen when you insert a high performer into a mediocre team that’s just going through the motions

      Not in the least bit. High performers do not behave this way. They don’t pontificate about how great they are and how high their standards are, and the expectations of their PEERS and MANAGER. They CERTAINLY don’t make ERRONEOUS “corrections” to documents, or make other mistakes. I’m just cherry picking here, but there is not a SINGLE item in the list that the OP mentions that is characteristic of a genuinely high performer.

    7. kitryan*

      After only a few weeks, there’s no way for this person to know whether or not he is really a high performer compared to the rest of the team! At that point, *if you are really a high performer* you should still be eagerly watching and absorbing how things are done at your new place of work, staying very much in your own lane until you understand the big picture, and *not* rewriting other people’s work unless you’re specifically told to. In almost any job I can think of, barring some sort of actually illegal or unsafe practice, telling other people how to do their jobs after only a couple weeks is *not* the sign of a high performer.

    8. Coffee Bean*

      Nope. Sorry. High performers that are new to a company take the time to learn about projects they are working with. They learn and respect existing dynamics. They make suggestions and contribute, but they are respectful. They appreciate learning. Mark appears to think he knows better without doing any of those things.

    9. Birdie*

      Even if Mark did previously work some place that encouraged people to take initiative and do things that “seemed to need doing” – he hasn’t been at this place long enough to know what needs to be done. If nothing else, it shows poor judgement (and a fair bit of arrogance) to waltz in and decide you know what needs to be done without any context or background knowledge.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        And even if he had been there long enough to be able to have an actual opinion, an actual high performer would say “on previous teams, we were encouraged to take initiative and dig into something if it wasn’t done yet; is that how your team works or would you prefer to allocate work another way?”

    10. Mill Miker*

      The Mark I worked with definitely saw himself this way, but he was just an arrogant jerk who though anyone doing things differently than he would was just uneducated. He completely ignored most of the constraints the team was working under, and his boss constantly had to find him work that had flexible deadlines and little interaction with the rest of the team.

      The thing is, there were several other high performers in the group he thought was phoning it in. Yes their work was rushed and the quality was suffering, and mediocre, but the deadlines were tight and management had unrealistic expectations. The high performers all understood that their teammates weren’t incompetent, and that they still needed to produce while trying to fix the issues.

    11. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t think this is what is happening here at all, but it does raise a question of whether the communication to Mark from the hiring manager indicated that he was being hired as someone who could provide leadership, process improvement, etc. etc. Sometimes, job descriptions and conversations can lead a person to believe that they’re being hired specifically to contribute process improvements, leading them to think that their purpose is to overhaul the current situation, when really the idea is that the person will simply have that future capability or the ability to make intelligent suggestions as needed (ie. rather than just someone purely focused on execution and who doesn’t ever question anything).

      I mean, even if this was the case, Mark is going about it all wrong, but it would be worth checking with the manager as to what was said to Mark about the purpose of his role, and to have the hiring manager level set the guy about what his role ACTUALLY is.

      Also, it’s always a good idea to start with an inquiry about what the hiring manager intended, and to then show how a Mark is deviating from the HM’s expectations of the role, because the HM has a vested interest in his chosen candidate succeeding. You kind of need to overcome that inertia, and a good way to do it is to demonstrate that your Mark is not living up the the HM’s vision of the role.

    12. Geralt of HRivia*

      I think that this comment is pretty close to not taking the letter writer at their word, honestly. I don’t think it’s appropriate here.

  24. Staja*

    Alison – I want to thank you for acknowledging that while there may be an element of sexism in Mark’s behavior, we shouldn’t always be so quick to jump on that as a reason.

    We have a female new hire on our team of females who is doing this same thing, with a dose of “I won’t ask ask questions or take notes about the new position”. There is a weird (and unpleasant) feeling of condescension and overconfidence exuding from her, yet 6 months in, she only has the basics down pat.

    There can always be an element of sexism, but it may not be the only issue and Alison’s advice, as per usual, is great. Address these weird incidents as weird incidents for now.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I agree.

      I think a good tactic is to have a larger conversation about expected behavior, and then address the behavior each and every time it reoccurs.

      It doesn’t usually matter why someone does something. It’s the behavior that needs to be called out and addressed. I think that labeling someone’s motivations sometimes dilutes the critiquing.

    2. Spurious*

      Also, men totally mansplain to one another as well. There is different variations of that behavior that we perform on one another – one-upmanship, proving that we have access to inside information, etc. I’m not saying it is the same thing or has the same impact as when a man does it to women, but this sort of d*ck swinging about arcane knowledge is very common to me from nerd circles. I was at a bar a few years ago and asked the bartender if the music playing was [obscure band from obscure music genre] and the bartender gave me a rundown on the history of the obscure music genre, as if I wouldn’t know. It was the equivalent of me saying “hey, is this John Coltrane?” and he said, “Yes, and John Coltrane played jazz, which is an improvisational form of music created by African Americans at the turn of the 20th century. One of the creators of it was Louis Armstrong. Have you heard of him?”

    3. Paperwhite*

      Sexism isn’t the only reason an insecure person may decide to act like a condescending know-it-all. However, it is a pretty common reason.

      Also, as I think someone mentioned above, there’s figuring out for oneself what’s going on, and then deciding what to say to the person causing the issue. It can be weirdly reassuring to realize that someone is being an ass due to their bigotry and nothing one did, and still true that confronting them along those lines will evoke defensiveness rather than the desired change in behavior.

  25. staceyizme*

    Ooh, that’s bad! I’m not in favor of a disclaimer when someone is so consistently inappropriate. “Stop that, that’s a remark that’s either very poorly phrased or that shows very poor judgment. Because we’re all competent professionals and seeming surprised that any of us is correct is inappropriate, at best.

  26. Camellia*

    Have you all seen the book “Men to Avoid in Art and Life”? It is absolutely hysterical. I can see so many of the pictures in this situation.

  27. Green Mug*

    It sounds like he’s trying really hard to prove that he knows what he’s doing. Similar to someone who is fresh out of school with no clue would try to prove themselves. So annoying. I doubt he understands how he comes across as insecure, condescending and foolish.

    1. Birdie*

      He isn’t really being subtle about what he’s doing. He literally came in the first week and asked for (part of) OP’s job. And when she said no, he decided he was going to do it anyway, probably to prove that he’s indispensable and deserves to be in that role. I suspect he’s probably not at all worried about how he comes across to anyone other than the boss – as long as he gets the position he wants, it doesn’t matter how everyone else sees him.

      I had an old boss like that, and it was like it hadn’t occurred to him that 1) people were going to pissed when he hijacked their projects and 2) once he got the promotion, he would still have to work with the people he stepped on to get there. Ironically, he was actually a really great boss and I learned to work with him quite well, but the entire rest of the office hated him, and for good reason.

  28. Dust Bunny*

    How much does it matter if he’s a sexist jerk or a regular jerk? He’s still a jerk and he still needs to cut this garbage out.

    (For the record, we had a female intern who pulled stuff like this. In her case, I think it was basically ego manifesting as academic elitism. I was ten years older than she was and had as many more years’ experience in the work, although she had a graduate degree and I do not, and she pretty much treated me like a servant. My supervisor reined her in and I’m pretty sure her behavior earned her a less-than-stellar review at the end of her stint, but that’s not really my business. I kind of suspect that she might have been a jerk in other aspects of life, too, though.)

    1. Nesprin*

      It matters because regular jerks will offend everyone, sexist jerks are occasionally loved and lauded by male higher managers. Think “Hmm, I know Mark, and I can’t imagine him telling you that coffee has caffeine. You must have misinterpreted.”

      1. Observer*

        Yes, in the big picture it matters for the reason you cite. In this particular context, though, it doesn’t matter. If the OP’s management is reasonable, then she’ll be ok although they might want some documentation. If they are NOT reasonable, it’s not going to matter if HE is sexist – they are going to coddle him at the expense of the OP and the rest of her team.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        That still doesn’t necessarily matter here, though–it only matters if the LW’s bosses are also at least kinda sexist, and that’s not a given. My supervisor is male and he’s pretty quick to jump in if a patron gets jerky for any reason, sexism included.

      3. anon73*

        In this scenario, it’s irrelevant. Mark isn’t keeping OP from being promoted or given the high profile projects because she’s a woman. He’s just being an asshole. Labeling it doesn’t fix the problem for OP.

  29. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Mark sounds obnoxious, and I know we take OPs at their word here, but I’m wondering if there’s something of a disconnect between the new job’s level of subject area knowledge and Mark’s. I had this happen at a job once. They thought they were experts on a subject and they just…weren’t. For example, one day I stopped them from mixing chlorine and ammonia when cleaning something and they treated me like I was an incompetent idiot (Aren’t you supposed to know what you’re doing? This is our cleaning protocol. You have a lot of experience and should know how to sanitize soiled equipment at this point in your career.)

    That was just the tip of the iceberg of poor operational decisions they were making. They thought I was a terrible, incompetent employee: I think they’re exceptionally lucky they haven’t had a serious accident or death on their premises and been sued to oblivion.

    1. Observer*

      When we question whether an OP is actually stating the facts of their situation, there needs to be some reason withing the letter for that, not just a single experience with something that somewhat maybe seems similar.

      What do you see in the letter that makes you think that the OP is actually wrong about the actual mistakes Mark has made? And what makes you think the other behaviors the OP describes (eg telling them about things things that are totally common knowledge) are not actually happening or somehow justified by the OP possibly being incompetent (which, again, we have no reason to believe)?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “I know we take OPs at their word here, but what if Mark’s right and the OP is totally wrong?”


    3. Ms. Enigma*

      There’s a vast difference between stepping in to stop a dangerous (and possible fatal) mistake and making un-asked for edits to internal documents.

  30. Observer*

    OP, while I bet this guy is sexist, I think it’s waste of your time to worry too much about that. And, I would absolutely not spend much time on that with your boss.

    The key problem is that his behavior is totally unacceptable. He’s a jerk, and it really doesn’t matter to you what particular variety of jerk he is. And, if YOUR boss is not sexist, they will recognize that and not expect you to play nice, cut him slack or find some way to bolster his fragile ego. I will suggest putting instructions into email (either to start with or as follow up.) This not only has the effect of being a good way to clearly document what is going on, but it makes it impossible for him to credibly claim that he “misunderstood” your instructions.

    And when he does “additional” work, make him go back and do what you told him to. Every. Single. Time.

    And then ding him for not following instructions, not getting his work done (if he’s getting his work done on top of this nonsense, he’s not being given enough work or he’s sloughing his work off on someone else), and wasting people’s time / holding back projects.

    Of course, all in addition to Alison’s excellent advice and what others have said.

    1. Annony*

      Yep. Focusing on the sexism would just possibly derail the conversation. It isn’t about whether or not he is sexist. It is about the fact that his behavior is unacceptable regardless of why he is doing it.

  31. Jaybeetee*

    I’ve worked with a couple of “Markish” dudes in the past, and my experience was that there was a sexist element, but more along the lines of “I think Male Colleague is an idiot who needs help too, but he’s more likely to punch me or tell me to f off, so I’ll correct women who are nicer and won’t do that.” But I do take the point that women can behave this way too, especially if they see themselves as somehow more qualified than their colleagues or based on a misguided idea that “acting like a boss will get them a promotion faster.”

    So Mark’s motivations might be just about trying to look good or stand out or prove himself as “boss material” or whatever – but there’s probably a level where he also thinks he can get away with more when interacting with women. LW needs to disabuse him of that notion, both in drawing hard lines when he oversteps with her and the team, and by bringing his behaviour to management’s attention.

  32. hbc*

    It’s always better to leave motive out of it. You could argue all day about what Mark thinks and how he feels, but what matters are his actions.

    Don’t get me wrong–you can point out that his actions are directed at certain people in a problematic way. It’s just that “Mark is sexist” leads to a lot of unnecessary, unresolvable debate. “Mark explains basic concepts to Patricia, Francine, and Jean but not to Patrick, Franklin, and Gene” is observable fact.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      And the problem with calling people out on their “isms” is most people’s biases are unconscious – most people don’t think of themselves as sexist/racist/etc, and will bristle if someone tries to tell them they are. If it is a sexist thing for Mark, it’s probably still not a moustache-twirling “I need to educate these dumb little wimmin” conscious sexism. This probably plays out a whole nother way in his own head.

      What’s more effective is what you say, sticking to behaviours and pointing out patterns.

  33. AnotherAlison*

    Ahhh, “Mark”s are everywhere. I can’t deal with my “Mark,” but I also work with another guy who has done some unsolicited reviewing and rewriting, and it does not come across as rude and as being a know-it-all. Maybe it’s a little of the “you know it when you see it” type of thing, but turns out people can be genuinely helpful while overstepping without being rude jerks. It would probably still be better if not-Mark said, “Hey, I noticed some things. . .is it okay if I make these types of comments?” before doing it, but at least he did something unsolicited and then said, you can use this or not, with zero expectations for me to do something with it. This is why I think there is the element of sexism in play. Not-Mark is not sexist, but I’ve had that vibe from our Mark many times before.

  34. jl*

    I’ve had older women (and a couple of younger) behave this way to me as a female. I think it stems more from their insecurity that you are outperforming them and have a higher standing. They want to keep you in their ‘perceived’ place for you to feel better about themselves.

    One woman complained to my boss that “everything was all about (my name)”… I was flabbergasted. She complained to my boss about me being a rockstar at my job and the fact I was achieving so much made my name come up quite often in internal and external meetings. Digging her own hole! Also, the fact my boss told me that is also an massive issue to me – I didn’t need to know about this pettiness.

    Perhaps it’s mansplaining but it can come from women too, so keep that in mind.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      Yeah, women can do this to other women, but internalized misogyny is still misogyny.

      I’ve seen the same kind of misogyny manifest when a lone male joins a female-dominated work group. He gets treated like some precious endangered species, and behavior like the OP describes gets excused because “oh the poor thing, surrounded by us insufferable clucking hens, who could blame him? We really must buffer his outsize fragile ego and clean up all his messes because truly, what worse torture could a man endure than having to work with a bunch of WOMEN?

      I ran into a particularly egregious example when I worked on the admin side for an OBGYN department at a major research university. “Oh, Mark, I’m so sorry you have to hear us talking about women’s disgusting bodies all day. How hard this must be for you! You don’t have to stay for this meeting if it’s too gross.” Like…if you’re squeamish about gynecology, why are you even here?

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I wouldn’t hold it against your boss that they told you – it’s better to know than to not know that there’s someone trying to undermine you. That way, if the situation changes (eg. what if you get a new manager?), you’re prepared.

  35. Generic Name*

    Ugh. I worked with a guy like this. He was hired to be an expert at a certain task, and as it turns out, he couldn’t even complete the task independently. He lied about his experience level during his interview, and he was eventually put on a PIP and was ultimately fired.

    In addition to bringing up your concerns to management, I’d really scrutinize any work he does for you/your project. Chances are, you will find errors and inaccuracies. I don’t know if his behavior is a conscious effort in making a smokescreen to hide sub-par skills, but it certainly had that effect with my former coworker.

  36. a thought*

    A different take is for the OP to think about if any of the behavior could be rooted in newness/an eagerness to contribute but not being sure how.

    Making super basic insights — I think this is a super common thing I see with new co-workers. They have no idea what others know yet or don’t know, so they jump in and explain something. Sometimes it’s basic and everyone knows it. Sometimes its new information to everyone. People are calibrating knowledge levels.

    Stuff like editing a document when asked to comment, etc – does “Mark” have enough to do? If he is sitting at his desk without enough to fill his time, it is possible he is brainstorming his own ways to be helpful and missing the mark. As the team lead, you might just fill his plate with the stuff you actually want him to do and that would take care of it.

    Not to say that he’s not coming across as a jerk. But just a hope that with good direction/feedback/leadership this could die down as he settles in.

    1. Argh!*

      Agree about the obvious statements. Sometimes that indicates the person himself has only recently learned something, or that this is the limit of his knowledge. It could also indicate that the group is not inspiring confidence or that too much has been left un-said. (high-context culture)

    2. Des*

      Yes, this! I see this with very green people too. I made a similar comment a little lower before I read this one.

    3. Former Young Lady*

      Dunning-Kruger Effect, for sure. A lot of early-career people demonstrate this kind of lack of self-awareness, and lack the competence to know what competence looks like. Metacognition is real grown-up stuff, and rookies make mistakes.

      This necessarily raises another question, though: when a supposedly *mid-career professional* has such a glaring deficit in these skills, to what extent is it an employer’s job to provide remedial instruction?

  37. Argh!*

    As someone who has been a more-experienced-know-it-all in a place with lower standards (seriously, the standards where I work are really low in a few areas), I can tell you what would have worked for me in this situation.

    re: edits — explain *how* the editing should be handled (comments in a word doc, or strikethru with new wording in ( ) or whatever). It’s easier to complain about directions not being followed when said directions are specific.

    re: higher standards: to demonstrate you do indeed have high standards, try to be humble and have a one-on-one conversation about standards, explaining why things that look like low standards are indeed good enough, or how you came to a conclusion about the way things should be done. All he sees is all he sees. He doesn’t have your back-story, only his, so he needs to be filled in. To show good will, take notes and tell him you’ll keep his input in mind for the next revision, or even make some changes based on the input. If you two can work things out one-on-one it will be good for everyone, and he may feel more welcome.

    Being the newbie: having been a new employee in a situation where I had previous technical skill with the exact same software and other job skills, then being treated like a newbie, I did indeed feel I had something to prove. Imagine this conversation, “expert” who has never worked elsewhere: “[specific software] can’t do that. And even if we could do that, [undefinable horrible outcome] could happen.” me, who has used [specific software] for over 10 years in two organizations: “Yes, it can. I’ve done it, and there were no unintended consequences. It was very accurate and less time-consuming, and I’d like to do it in my unit here.” It was exhausting having to do battle for things that were taken as a given in previous jobs, and the people who didn’t know as much as they thought they did found me very threatening. Anything a consultant or software rep says gets taken as gospel, but my previous experience meant nothing after my interview was over. If you can find your way to see him as a voice from the wilderness, or at least an independent observer, you may learn a few things, and at the same time you can teach him a few things about your culture.

    He may indeed be a jerk, but he’s there and has something to offer. He just needs to be redirected and socialized to your climate.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      But would you have told your boss, randomly, that coffee has caffeine, or interrupted a conversation to define “confidential” to someone who had given no evidence of not knowing that?

      LW doesn’t need to be “humble” here–Mark is already acting superior. And this guy isn’t saying “Yes, your customers are okay with getting three teapots a day, but if we make this change to the process we can double production” or warning about a safety risk. He’s making the broad assertion that the entire rest of the team aren’t good enough. If he had a specific improvement to suggest, I’m sure he would have.

      It isn’t LW’s job to do the emotional labor of assuming someone who is behaving like an ass must have a good reason and tease it out. If your hypothesis is correct, let Mark do the work of saying “I’m sorry I came on so strong. I am worried about X specific thing, for reason Y.”

    2. Observer*

      re: edits — explain *how* the editing should be handled (comments in a word doc, or strikethru with new wording in ( ) or whatever). It’s easier to complain about directions not being followed when said directions are specific.

      Why? The original instructions were to COMMENT, not to edit. In fact, in at least one case, he wasn’t asked to do ANYTHING!

      The directions were specific enough and Mark chose to just ignore them.

      to demonstrate you do indeed have high standards, try to be humble and have a one-on-one conversation about standards, explaining why things that look like low standards are indeed good enough, or how you came to a conclusion about the way things should be done

      Absolutely not! At a few weeks in, you simply do NOT have the standing to tell people, much less your supervisor about how they don’t have high enough standards. ESPECIALLY since, according to the OP, they are making significant errors and are not absorbing well what they need.

      Also, if it were just a matter of his spouting off about standards without the context or standing to do so, that would be bad enough. But he’s also shown a significant tendency to over-step his proper bounds. You do NOT encourage that by wasting your time justifying yourself in response to his over-step! If he were ASKING about why OP does things this way not that way, that would be on thing. But there is no way that it’s on the OP to mollify someone who doesn’t know how to act respectfully.

      As for the rest, you are assuming that Mark is actually an expert whereas the OP has no idea of what she and her team are doing. Note – According to the OP Mark has actually made “corrections” that were actually wrong and has acted as though really basic stuff was a big new piece of information. What is you basis for assuming that the OP is wrong on the facts of the situation?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Additional thought: having people ignore or even encourage Mark’s behaviour (‘he might be right!’) will more likely tank the morale of the rest of the team resulting in less work being done.

    3. Workerbee*

      Oof. You may not have intended your comment this way at all. It comes across to me as putting no accountability on the Marks of the world. The majority if not all of the balance of giving benefit of the doubt, humbling, over sharing, and being clearer than already clearly stated directives seems to be on the colleagues and bosses, leaving the Marks free to come in hot.

      I have definitely also seen leadership heads turn toward the rising sun of a consultant versus employees. Yet, kindly, your statement that “ people who didn’t know as much as they thought they did found me very threatening“ does not surprise me.

    4. Geralt of HRivia*

      I’m falling on the opposite end of the fence. If Mark is indeed an expert, the people on his team would know that because they hired him to fill a spot. He’s got a role to play and the fact that he’s wasting so much time after feedback to do otherwise isn’t a good look. I think he doesn’t have a level of knowledge that he should, so he defaults to very basic facts.

      “To show good will, take notes and tell him you’ll keep his input in mind for the next revision, or even make some changes based on the input.”

      I don’t know why, but this left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    5. Ms. Enigma*

      If you were a brand-new colleague and came to me after a few weeks on the job to “humbly” explain that my team has low standards and you are used to a higher level of performance, I would think you were a serious jerk. If you were my direct report, you would likely not pass probation. It is YOUR responsibility to try to understand what the processes and culture are at your new company, not your coworkers’ to make you feel comfortable or explain the background for why we do X this way. After a few weeks you should still be in learning mode, not in making-suggestions mode.

      I had a colleague who did pretty much exactly what you are suggesting here. He had never worked in the nonprofit sector before–in fact he was fairly new to the working world, having dropped out of graduate school. He had lots of suggestions he thought were helpful, such as “We should ask Bill Gates for money!,” and “Why isn’t Oprah on our board?,” which, if you’ve worked in the nonprofit world for more than 10 seconds, you would know are not feasible ideas. He would not listen to any of us when we tried to explain why something was done a certain way, or why his suggestions wouldn’t work, and he pushed back hard on his boss constantly (she had 10+ years of experience) whenever she asked him to do something. The final straw was when his boss didn’t want to take one of his suggestions; he scheduled a meeting with the head of HR to complain about his boss. He walked into the meeting and was promptly escorted out with his notice a few minutes later.

  38. Des*

    I agree with Alison but also wanted to add a possible angle which is…maybe he really *doesn’t* know what he’s doing? It’s possible that when he’s writing lengthy memos he’s doing so because he thinks that’s how you do it, and is honestly trying to meet whatever are his own perceptions of how people “should” operate. Maybe he has never seen a sample of what other people have produced in similar circumstances? All I’m saying is, I wonder how much training he has had in the job or whether it has been assumed that because he came from another company that he knows how to do things you all consider “basic”. He could be knowing-it-all at you in the small areas of expertise he does have to cover up some insecurities as well. It’s hard to say, although frustrating regardless.

  39. Just Sayin'*

    Maybe neither? Maybe he’s not being sexist, and maybe he truly does know what he’s talking about? I was the Mark in a workplace I left recently (similar situation, but I’m a woman, and was dealing with men). There were things that genuinely needed to be better/handled differently (our field is regulated with laws/rules). I kept my opinion to myself in most cases and just put my head down to work for the most part. But I would speak up if something was very much a problem. I did my best to make sure I was as polite as possible – but apparently it was always taken the wrong way. It never went over well. I believe they were just threatened by me, and that it was more of an ego thing for them. New people shouldn’t have to just toss their experience to the side just because they are new to a particular workplace. I would encourage the OP to examine if her frustrations stem from insecurity also. Who knows – maybe his manager told him he could do certain things, and perhaps you weren’t looped in?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      >> I would encourage the OP to examine if her frustrations stem from insecurity also.

      I think having someone new start, tell you they could do your job better than you, ignore your instructions, try to explain really basic stuff you already know to you would frustrate anyone. It’s not a sign of insecurity to get annoyed at bad workers.

      1. Just Sayin’*

        Sometimes that is the case. But sometimes people are threatened by the new person if they honestly know what they’re doing.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I don’t think discussing hypotheticals will help the OP though. From their description this guy sounds bang out of order. Even if he did know more than others his behaviour would still be inappropriate.

  40. Frenchie too*

    I would be tempted to respond: “Is there a reason you’re telling me what to do? This is obviously something I would know. Plus, I am your supervisor and you are new.”
    My BS limit is lower and lower as the years go by.

  41. Ana Gram*

    Ooh, there’s a guy like this at my volunteer job. He’s my age and has far less experience than I do. His favorite saying is “well, you’re not wrong”. I now reply, “yes, because I’m right”. It seems to disconcert him so I guess I’m doing something right. That guy, though…

  42. Chickaletta*

    In my experience, people who explain basic tasks usually prove over time to be the less-educated ones. I think the general lack of awareness of what other people already know is a symptom of general ignorance and being out of touch. For this reason, I’d be a little less defensive than what Alison suggests and instead take the approach that Mark may be the one lacking expertise and awareness. What that looks like will vary depending on how you want to handle it – perhaps you start asking him to comment on documents less, or don’t go to him to send communications to other teams. If you want to be a little more ridiculous, when he makes a comment like, “did you know coffee has caffeine?” you could counter with “Yes! Did you know that you can add sugar and cream if you don’t want to drink it black?” But whatever approach you take, watch to see if he is really as knowledgeable as he proclaims. Your biggest problem in the big scheme of things may be that he doesn’t.

    1. Geralt of HRivia*

      I was suspecting something like this too. I’ve had some luck with saying something like this

      Jerk: Did you know coffee has caffeine
      Me: …did, did you just learn that this morning?

      The slackjaw only happens once.

  43. Lunita*

    Ugh this guy sounds exactly like someone I have to work with outside my organization. I have a lot of experience in my field and a senior position at my organization and yet this guy explains pretty basic things about the field. He also will try giving direction to my staff. Like LW I don’t know if it’s sexism or just general rudeness but it’s extremely annoying.

  44. Karia*

    “ During his first week he asked me if he could take on some of the lead role.”

    What on Earth????

  45. pillbox*

    Sounds like he’s being passive aggressive because you’re a woman in a position of authority. I once hired a male student who had the chops to ask me how I got my position. It’s a micro aggression when men tell women what to do, no matter how “nice” they may come across. It’s the equivalent of a man telling a woman to smile more, she should do XYZ, ask when they’re getting married, ask when they’re having children, etc. etc.

  46. Geralt of HRivia*

    Ugh, he sounds like the Microsoft paperclip made flesh.

    Can you lock him out of making edits to documents? As someone who writes a lot of processes that would make me utterly batty

  47. Ms. Enigma*

    There are a LOT of know-it-alls coming out of the woodwork here to defend Mark. If your first impulse after reading this letter is defend a guy who explains what confidential means to other adults, please check yourself into therapy, STAT.

    Also love the people commenting that this couldn’t possibly be sexist because they know a woman who did something similar once. That’s not the situation here. Also… have you never heard of internalized misogyny? Women can be sexist, too.

    Definitely agree with people who have commented that this seems like an newbie who is simultaneously overconfident and insecure. I also suspect that there’s a healthy dose of the Dunning-Kruger effect here.

    I had a colleague who had a 3-year rule that I thought was pretty brilliant. It was 1 year to learn the job, 1 year to do the job, and 1 year to do the job well. She was a high performer and was consistently promoted. The Marks of the world could stand to learn from her; they’re trying to skip the first two years.

  48. Dispdmg*

    This is going to be hard to explain without my coming off as a total jerk. I’m first in seniority but equal status at my job with 4 others – i just get first dibs on OT and shift pick. We’ve run with mostly women and one guy (I’ve got him by two weeks and we’re in year 19). Recently we had to hire and i let my experience in the past shade my opinion of a potential employee (think retired male store manager going to a new store as a cashier with a full team of women who know their jobs.) In the past I’ve dealt with this in my job and its never been pretty when the retired person comes in thinking he’s all that and a basket of chips. In both cases the retirements were not by choice – one medical one age related – and they really thought they were could do the job and show all of us up really quickly. In the current situation I had to put my experience aside and say I’d approach with a clear slate and let the new guy be who he will be. Well….he’s that same type of jerk and now the others around me are complaining – including the one person who really came down on my earlier judgement. I hate to say I told you so….I swear i”m not a jerk and we aren’t cashiers but it was the best comparison I could come up with.

    So all of this to say – yes OP i can sympathize greatly. I’m just glad I’m not training new guy cause my tongue would be in pieces right now.

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