Q: One of my co-workers refuses to open up with me. “Ginger” doesn’t share any personal information, so our discussions are always about work.
Q: One of my co-workers refuses to open up with me. “Ginger” doesn’t share any personal information, so our discussions are always about work. Although she will answer my questions, she never initiates any small talk. When I pass Ginger in the hall, she often walks by without even exchanging a greeting.
Since I haven’t done anything bad to her, I don’t understand why Ginger refuses to get close to me. I have actually started avoiding her because she makes me feel as though I don’t exist. How can I work with someone who doesn’t want to know anything about me?
A: You are obviously a nice person who enjoys feeling close to your colleagues and sharing your life with them. However, the problem is that Ginger is not like you. At work, she apparently has little interest developing friendships or having personal conversations. She simply wants to focus on her tasks.
From your perspective, Ginger is coldly rejecting your friendly overtures. But to her, your ongoing attempts to “get close” may seem pushy and intrusive. And you might be surprised to learn that Ginger is not alone. There are actually many people who prefer not to socialize at work.
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Fortunately, this problem has a simple solution. Just accept Ginger as she is, and stop trying to change her. Continue to be pleasant and helpful, but focus your conversation on work issues. And when you feel like chatting, seek out some gregarious colleagues who are more like yourself.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.