Suck-ass work situation.
July 10, 2009 3:09 PM Subscribe
Had a blowout with a coworker several weeks ago. I was an asshole. Realized it. Waited a couple days. Sincerely apologized and kept to myself. Said coworker is still holding a grudge. Accept it as the new status quo or try more outreach?
posted by everythings_interrelated to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a coworker I considered a friend. I assumed it was mutual. About 4-5 weeks ago, during morning chit-chat before get-down-to-work time, coworker informed me she was already having a shitty day, bad news in extended family, etc. I empathized. Work started. Found out I was assigned a summer student worker that I had to find a computer for pronto, asked coworker if it was ok to use computer when she was not around (about half the day usually), coworker said "I'll think about it."
Now, computers are generally considered property of the company and occasional sharing is the norm. I expected a "sure, whatever." Her "I'll think about it" irritated me. So I said something along the lines of "I was asking to be nice. I'm using it if it's available." She informed me that she'd be needing some space today, that I'd be best to leave her alone. I instantly realized that I just made her bad day worse... I quickly apologized and bailed out. Got someone else to let me use their computer during down-time. Let coworker alone for a couple days, then asked for permission to apologize, and gave a succinct but sincere apology. I have continued to give space.
You see, this "space" thing got me. As though she sees me as a routine invader routinely tolerated. Now, I realize some people come to work solely to work, and those folks are generally easy to recognize and I let them go about their day. I did not figure this coworker was one of them. She would start conversations with me, continue conversations I started, etc. If I dropped by her office to chat, and she said "yeah, uh huh" and kept looking at her computer, I'd save whatever I wanted to say for another time. Conversely, if she interrupted me, I would generally say something like, "busy. go away." So ample opportunity and precedence to set up a boundary if needed... right?
A couple weeks went by and I didn't start any conversations, make any jokes, or whatever. The vibe just wasn't good. But she also often looked hurt, and more hurt the more we didn't talk. I decided that this was silly-ness. So I stood outside her office and said something like, "This isn't how I want this to go. I value your friendship." The response was that I was welcome to chat any time. So I've started a couple short chit-chats. But it's somehow not the same. She doesn't continue them, and she doesn't initiate with me.
Lastly, just to head off a few people at the proverbial pass: there's absolutely no romantic chemistry-tension-whatever between us. God, no. She's a cool person, but not my kind of girl. And, as for her side, she's happily married to a much better man than me (as much as I can tell, we don't really discuss it, and that's as it should be).
I'm flummoxed. I'm not a people-genious, but I'm usually not this people-stupid, either. Should I accept the status quo or give outreach another try? If outreach, suggestions?