What’s a bully? A person who repeatedly and deliberately harms and humiliates other people. And that person may do it for various reasons, not just to assert his superiority over someone he or she perceives as vulnerable.
In fact, a bully engages in this toxic behavior because of unresolved personal issues. Among the reasons that a bully attacks another person — verbally or physically — are perceived threats, revenge, cowardice, sadism, and past trauma.
In this case, it seems that the Original Poster is perceived as a threat by a former schoolmate who’s now her office mate. OP, with the username u/adulthighschool posted her story on Reddit’s r/AmItheA–hole form: “I started a new job recently. Apparently I went to middle school with one of my coworkers (were both in high school). She remembers me, I don’t remember her. I’ll call her Jane. A week or 2 ago, Jane asked me if I go by the nickname version of my name. Think Nikki for Nicole (not my name but close enough). I said no, I hate being called Nikki; she said ‘Oh, but it’s such a cute name, we used to have a Nikki that worked here.’ Then she proceeded to ask another coworker if she remembered Nikki.”
After the incident, OP thought that Jane would respect her wish to be called by her real name since other people do so. However, it was just the start of Jane’s attempt to constantly annoy her. Whenever she wanted to call OP’s attention, Jane would call her Nikki. OP would remind her that it was not her name, and Jane would simply answer that she forgot.
And yet, she would persist in calling OP by the nickname that she preferred, to the point that OP just decided to ignore her. Until one time that another co-worker told OP that Jane was calling her, but even though she was forced to look at Jane, she had nothing significant to say to her.
OP then told her co-worker that she disliked being called by another person’s nickname. But the latter did not understand her at all and instead advised her not to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Should OP just let Jane continue making fun of her and her name?
The members of the AITA community don’t think so. Support and advice poured in.
A Reddit user wrote, “Send her a email asking her to stop. And save it for if you will take the HR approach.”
Another person counseled, “This, OP. Cc your boss.”
Meanwhile, another person elaborated, “Email the person first for the record. Document instances of it happening before & after the email. Going to the boss first is probably the best option overall. Let him/her know that you don’t want to be labeled a troublemaker, but it is something that bothers you badly. Bring the documentation in case they ask about how you have tried to resolve it on your own. Bosses will appreciate that you have been trying to handle it and covered your bases. If the boss does nothing about it or scoffs, then HR might be the way…. as well as deciding if it’s a place you want to work after all.”
This advice was likewise supported by another AITA member: “Yeah I would say tell her formally in an email that you don’t like the name. If she persists, get a superior involved. I wouldn’t just go straight to HR, as they’ll just cause problems for her and OP by putting that in her working file too. Obviously though, if Jane still doesn’t stop, then 100 % go to HR, but make sure a superior is aware and maybe see if they can rectify it first.”