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Have you ever been “in the zone” with your productivity at work, only to be interrupted by a colleague?

This original poster (OP), whom we’ll refer to as Wesley, went through something similar.

Although he had a valid point, he eventually erupted, and his actions backfired.

Let’s unravel Wesley’s story to understand things better.

Tension in the Workplace

fizkes // Shutterstock

Like most people, Wesley shows up to work and likes to be productive.

If someone needs assistance along the way, he doesn’t mind helping.

But when does asking for help cross the line?

Colleague’s Interruption Leads to Verbal Altercation

Cast Of Thousands // Shutterstock

During certain periods of the day, Wesley updates his status to “Do Not Disturb” on his company’s instant messenger.

In case you aren’t aware, this status is visible to other workers on their email and messaging platform. 

This is where things get messy.

Enough Is Enough // Shutterstock

Wesley’s coworker, Tom, tends to ignore this status.

When someone has their “Do Not Disturb” status turned on, they won’t be notified if someone messages them on the messenger app. To get around this, Tom would send Wesley multiple emails or even call him on his personal phone for non-urgent matters.

Employee Loses Cool Over Repeated Disturbances

Cast Of Thousands // Shutterstock

An email or two within a reasonable time frame isn’t what bothered Wesley.

The problem was that Tom was sending multiple emails to Wesley every few minutes, expecting a quick response. If Wesley didn’t answer immediately, Tom would call Wesley’s phone.

Wesley politely told Tom that he would get back to him when he had the chance and even involved management in the issue.

Professionalism vs. Personal Boundaries in the Workplace

fizkes // Shutterstock

You’d think the problem would’ve stopped here, but Tom continued his bad habits.

One day, Wesley got fed up and sent Tom a frustrated response.

“STOP. I’ve told you I’ll get back to you when I can…”

Is Swearing an Acceptable Response to Workplace Stress?

Dean Drobot // Shutterstock

Most people would’ve gotten Wesley’s message by now, but Tom was different.

A week passed. On the following Monday, Tom continued with his old habits. He fired off multiple emails to Wesley, and this was the final straw.

“We’ve had polite conversations about this, but I’m going to be more blunt: *****. OFF. You’re actively hindering my work.”

After sending this response, Wesley appeared to be the villain in this scenario. He got backlash from Tom and other coworkers.

The Inside Scoop

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“…That can get you in trouble with HR for harassment. Don’t let the real ******* (your coworker) off the hook by stooping to his level…”

Uncovering What People Truly Think and Feel

Roman Samborskyi // Shutterstock

“I don’t blame you for lashing out but you NEVER go to that level and you NEVER EVER do it in writing…”

Truth Serum

Dean Drobot // Shutterstock

“If the co-worker was that much of a hindrance, you can just block or ignore them, and refuse to offer anymore [sic] assistance. 

I’ve created rules to automatically send problem users and co-workers to a separate email folder that won’t alert me. I read them at my leisure when I have time.”

Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Modern Workplace

fizkes // Shutterstock

Although Wesley had a valid point, he stooped down to Tom’s level.

Unfortunately, this happens more often than we realize. Even if a person deserves a negative reaction, like in Tom’s case, it’s important to keep things professional in the workplace. 

Otherwise, we may receive negative consequences, even if we’re ultimately in the right.

What do you think?

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This thread inspired this post. 

The internet has influenced the ideas presented in this article, and it does not necessarily align with the views or opinions of the Financially Well Off.

This article originally appeared on Financially Well Off.


Chris founded FWO, the ultimate destination for those looking to achieve financial independence, explore the world and stay motivated daily.

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