Q: I've been buddies for a couple of years with a co-worker. Now I think she's avoiding me. What's the best way to mend the rift? A: First, you need to find out whether she is...

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Q:
I’ve been buddies for a couple of years with a co-worker. Now I think she’s avoiding me. What’s the best way to mend the rift?


A:

First, you need to find out whether she is, in fact, avoiding you.

Catch her when she’s alone and ask whether you have done something to upset her. Even if she isn’t honest, her body language will likely convey the truth.

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When people are upset and don’t want to talk, they tend to look down, look away or try to end the conversation quickly.

If your colleague is upset with you, understand that most people at work have three myths about relationships: 1) Good relationships never get ruptured by conflict; 2) If conflict occurs, one of the two people is bad; 3) Once a relationship is ruptured, there’s no hope of mending things.

The reality is: 1) Every professional relationship that lasts long enough will have conflict; 2) Conflict is a normal result of differences between people; 3) There are lots of tools you can use to repair relationships.

When our car has a flat tire, we don’t declare it totaled. When our work relationships become broken, however, we aren’t so rational. When friends at work are upset with us, their usual response is to avoid us or engage us only at a distance.

The idea of addressing the problem brings up the three myths and every relationship that has ever gone badly for them. Most folks would rather lose a friend than feel this anxious.

To mend the rift, ask your colleague to lunch or coffee. Let her know how much your value her friendship and that you want to fix any problems. Then let her talk.

It takes two to repair a relationship. If she has declared your relationship totaled after a single conflict, grieve the loss of the friendship and accept your status as a distant co-worker. At least you’ll know this woman would never have made a good long-term friend.

The last word(s)


Q:

I’ve been following your column and find myself wondering, aren’t there organizations where office politics aren’t so complicated?


A:

No.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes .com/daneenskube.