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Old November 3 2012, 08:19 PM   #1
rhubarbodendron
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Location: milky way, outer spiral arm, Sol 3
Seeking advice about prankster

I have a most annoying colleague who plays idiotic pranks on everyone. We're pretty desperate as he won't realize that what he considers fun is a harrassment for others. We were thinking of either giving him a taste of his own medicine or simply isolating him socially until he copes.

Any ideas?
Did you have to deal with similar people in the past? How was that problem solved?

To give you an idea of what we are facing, here a description of the latest 2 pranks. Btw, the guy is 47, not 14 as one might suspect:

1) Yesterday, he hid in the dark broom cabinet and came crawling out when a colleague passed on the badly lit corridor. The colleague dropped both her coffee and the files she had been carrying (which promptly mixed on the floor) and screamed like a banshee upon which myself and everyone within earshot almost had a heart attack, took a few seconds to recover and rushed to her aid, assuming she had fallen and hurt herself.

2) The previous day I had been his victim: my office car's place is in a corner of the basement garage. To get out, I have to sneak past 2 other cars, parked at a right angle to mine. Normally not much of a problem, only that one of them is a rather long VW bus which must be parked very close to the wall, else it'll stick out too far for myself and the opposite car to pass it. The prankster had put a wardrobe and a heavy table in the bus' parking space so that the vehicle couldn't be parked properly and stood a yard out of its parking space. While I tried to inch around it without hitting any of the other cars, the idiot sneaked up behind me and suddenly yelled. Had I slipped off the clutch that moment, I'd have damaged both cars, propably beyond repair.

I have nothing against jokes, but there's a difference between something funny and something potentially dangerous and/or highly annoying.
This ass is supposed to sit at his desk and work and not to scare colleagues, disrupt other's concentration, causing accidents etc!

Help!!!!
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Old November 3 2012, 08:26 PM   #2
MacLeod
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

Try speaking to him, and ask him to refrain from such acts. Explain why, such as you scared someone, your foot could have slipped off the clutch due to being startled etc..

If that doesn' work does your work place have any policies rehgarding acceptable behaviour? That might be one approach.

Engaging in a similiar sort of behaviour probable won't solve the solution.
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Old November 3 2012, 08:35 PM   #3
rhubarbodendron
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

Both myself and other colleagues repeatedly tried to talk with him, but he is apparently unable to grasp the idea that his "jokes" could be unpleasant to anyone.

Sadly, we have no behaviour policy either. It hasn't been necessary to introduce one. Yet. I still hesitate to talk with the mangement or the office council about it as it'd then show in his record.

I absolutely agree that paying him back in the same way wouldn't help. Some colleagues tried that in the past and it turned out that the guy is excellent at dealing out but sucks royally when it comes to being at the receiving end.

Not even Santa Clause could get him to behave (we have a very nice colleague who always plays Santa at our Christmas party and who tried to diplomatically point that guy into the right direction. Sadly, without success).
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Old November 3 2012, 08:37 PM   #4
Kestra
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

Yeah I would just discuss (tactfully) why his behavior is both inappropriate and dangerous. I wouldn't be scared to use those words either. If that conversation doesn't have the effect that you require, I would seek out a discussion within the structure of your workplace, whoever the appropriate person or department would be.
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Old November 3 2012, 08:45 PM   #5
SeerSGB
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

Kestra wrote: View Post
Yeah I would just discuss (tactfully) why his behavior is both inappropriate and dangerous. I wouldn't be scared to use those words either. If that conversation doesn't have the effect that you require, I would seek out a discussion within the structure of your workplace, whoever the appropriate person or department would be.
This.

He's going end up costing someone a lot of money in damaged property (example: you hitting those cars had your foot slipped) or at, heavens forbid, someone getting seriously injured--I suspect both of which could put him in a world of civil or criminal liability hurt, might want to put that bug in his ear if he's overly dense about the topic of people don't want to play along with his pranks. If he don't take the message, go up the chain-of-command.

I learned early in my working life (having seen people hurt and having had my hand broke as a result of one) that pranks in the workplace are typically not a good ideal at the least.
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Old November 3 2012, 09:05 PM   #6
rhubarbodendron
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

There are (rare) exceptions, SeerSGB. We used to have a very funny prank war between 2 colleagues which was completely harmless: one filled up the other's umbrella with a handfull of those round paper bits you get when punching holes into paper.They promptly rained down on her when she opened her umbrella.
She took revenge by connecting paper clips into a chain and hooking them into the colleague's sweater: he went to an official meeting with this "tail" (much to the amusement of the other participants) and noticed the clips only when he undressed in the evening.

That's the kind of pranks I like because nobody gets hurt and no damage is done. But those two colleagues used to think before acting. The annoying colleague acts without thinking. Some of his pranks start funny, but then get out of hand. The problem is that he doesn't notice the point where fun turns into hurt or danger.
That makes it so difficult to deal with him: how can you teach someone to be considerate?
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Old November 3 2012, 09:21 PM   #7
Kestra
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

You're going to need to change your mindset if you want him to stop, unfortunately. These kinds of pranks are very subjective even once you move beyond what's dangerous and what's not. You can't realistically expect him and others to only conduct pranks that you feel are harmless and entertaining.

Ultimately, you may end up losing all these sorts of pranks but that's the price you will have to pay for safety. It's not about what you like, personally. You really need to speak to some sort of supervisor or something.
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Old November 3 2012, 09:45 PM   #8
Bumbles861
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

SeerSGB wrote: View Post
Kestra wrote: View Post
Yeah I would just discuss (tactfully) why his behavior is both inappropriate and dangerous. I wouldn't be scared to use those words either. If that conversation doesn't have the effect that you require, I would seek out a discussion within the structure of your workplace, whoever the appropriate person or department would be.
This.

He's going end up costing someone a lot of money in damaged property (example: you hitting those cars had your foot slipped) or at, heavens forbid, someone getting seriously injured--I suspect both of which could put him in a world of civil or criminal liability hurt, might want to put that bug in his ear if he's overly dense about the topic of people don't want to play along with his pranks. If he don't take the message, go up the chain-of-command.

I learned early in my working life (having seen people hurt and having had my hand broke as a result of one) that pranks in the workplace are typically not a good ideal at the least.
Agreed. If he is unable to grasp the concept of what is or isn't appropriate - in a gentle fashion - the before addressing this as a workplace issue, I would not hesitate to tell him - in no uncertain terms - that his behaviour is offensive and harrassing to everyone else in the workplace and is to stop 'NOW' and if it doesn't then you will be addressing it up your/his chain of command. He then has the opportunity to stop, knowing what the result will be if he doesn't. If he doesn't, then too bad because the bottom line is no one but him finds his acts funny - making everyone here a victim. Good luck.
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Old November 3 2012, 09:50 PM   #9
sojourner
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

I suggest getting your HR department involved. This is exactly what they are there for.
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Old November 3 2012, 09:53 PM   #10
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

If you can, shrink-wrap him to that heavy table you mentioned.


That's it.
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Old November 3 2012, 10:03 PM   #11
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

There's that thing they did in Full Metal Jacket to discipline one of their comrades...


There's two things about this:
a) the guy is an attention whore
b) no one ever showed him where boundaries are

Sounds to me like the guy is disturbing the entire working environment, and it sounds like all of you colleagues are in agreement about that. So talk to him to make him stop, and if he doesn't, get him fired.
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Old November 3 2012, 10:10 PM   #12
SeerSGB
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

Can of mace or a stun gun is good for setting boundaries; nothing says "knock it off asshole" like 50+K volts. Not saying do it--not by a long shot, I'm not saying someone should do it--I'm saying jump scares and shit is playing with fire. There's a chance one day someone isn't just going to drop a coffee, they're going to react: "Boo!! ~ssssssshhhhh~ My eyes, my eyes!" Bet he won't think the joke is so funny then.
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Old November 3 2012, 10:11 PM   #13
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

OR immerse him in jello.

Seriously have an intervention and say that if does not stop you will be taking it to the higher ups. Emphasize you have chosen not to do so because you don't want it to show on his record but this is the last chance. And yes, everyone else be on their best behavior during this, no harmless fun.

Honestly some people are just.. well actually I don't know what is wrong with them. A friend of mine's husband constantly makes boob and sex jokes at the level of a 12 year old. He injects them into every conversation with zero context. He's been yelled at, ignored, the subject of sarcasm, explained to..but it has no effect at all. Even though his behavior gets him no positive feedback and often negative it's like some verbal tick he can't stop. I don't understand it myself but it's pretty common for people to really not get how annoying their behavior is or how it is disliked.
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Old November 3 2012, 10:24 PM   #14
SeerSGB
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

teacock wrote: View Post
OR immerse him in jello.

Seriously have an intervention and say that if does not stop you will be taking it to the higher ups. Emphasize you have chosen not to do so because you don't want it to show on his record but this is the last chance. And yes, everyone else be on their best behavior during this, no harmless fun.

Honestly some people are just.. well actually I don't know what is wrong with them. A friend of mine's husband constantly makes boob and sex jokes at the level of a 12 year old. He injects them into every conversation with zero context. He's been yelled at, ignored, the subject of sarcasm, explained to..but it has no effect at all. Even though his behavior gets him no positive feedback and often negative it's like some verbal tick he can't stop. I don't understand it myself but it's pretty common for people to really not get how annoying their behavior is or how it is disliked.
Sounds like my Dad and his brothers. They don't get that (1) They're not funny and (2) saying "It's just a joke" doesn't excuse being a jerkheaded asshole. They literally will keep going after being asked politely, then told sternly to stop; then get mad and cause a stink over "not having a thick skin" or "they're just funnin' a little, get a sense of humor". I've seen my father, when he's not the center of attention in a conversation, start making noises with his mouth, stomping his feet, or clattering stuff like a unruly brat of a kid till people acknowledge him; then when asked what he wants to say he'll snicker and say "Nothing".
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Old November 3 2012, 10:28 PM   #15
JarodRussell
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Re: Seeking advice about prankster

teacock wrote: View Post
Honestly some people are just.. well actually I don't know what is wrong with them. A friend of mine's husband constantly makes boob and sex jokes at the level of a 12 year old. He injects them into every conversation with zero context. He's been yelled at, ignored, the subject of sarcasm, explained to..but it has no effect at all. Even though his behavior gets him no positive feedback and often negative it's like some verbal tick he can't stop. I don't understand it myself but it's pretty common for people to really not get how annoying their behavior is or how it is disliked.
Sounds like someone I know who has been single for almost a decade and got frustrated.
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