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Dear Proper Green:
I have a co-worker who hates the green movement with a passion. He knows that I'm trying to live my life more sustainably, and he never confronts me directly, but he uses stories about the most extreme examples of the green movement to complain about anything and everything green. It's never risen to the level of harassment, but it makes me uncomfortable. What should I do?
Since you say that this man’s behavior hasn’t risen to the level of harassment (which would require immediate action), you have a few options.
You could try to talk with him about your enthusiasm for the environmental movement, with the hope of educating him and bringing about awareness. But you may not change his mind and run the risk of giving him further ammunition with which to needle you.
You could simply overlook this man’s boorish behavior, and chalk it up to ignorance, fear or perhaps both. He may be trying to get under your skin and goad you into a confrontation. Your refusal to “play along” may eventually defuse his attacks. But by far your best bet is probably a pithy comeback. You don’t have to be hilarious, or even clever–– just quick enough to be a distraction. There’s no need to be mean or rude, because meeting his over-the top green disaster stories with a smart remark will redirect his agenda. Humor diffuses most tense situations, and your ability to stand up to this work-place bully will encourage him to leave you alone and find someone else to pester. If need be, come up with a few all-purpose comments ahead of time, so you’re always prepared.
About Proper Green
The “green movement” is a relatively new one. And because it’s so new, ideas about what constitutes proper behavior within the movement are still evolving. But we think it’s important to establish some guidelines to help smooth the way.
Proper Green is (at least we hope) a blog about good manners in a green world. And while people often confuse “etiquette” with “manners” - the former deals with social custom, i.e., which fork to use or how to introduce your niece to your husband’s cousin at your step-sister’s second wedding––the latter is an expression of respect.And that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Good manners, like our planet, need care, attention and dedication. We hope you find inspiration and answers here.
Do you have a question for Proper Green? Send inquiries to Propergreen@recyclebank.com. Questions may be edited for clarity and length.