They’ll turn productivity tools into avoidance tools.
The phone and computer on your office desk are amazing productivity tools … but they can cut both ways. Both give you instant access to your co-workers. Both also give your co-workers ways to avoid you. Especially if they don’t like you.
It doesn’t take much time spent in an office environment to discover that the cliques and inexplicable social behavior you thought you left behind in school has followed you into your adult life. Are you imagining it, does your co-worker really hate you? Here are the top 3 signs:
1. You just feel it
You spend at least 8 hours a day with co-workers. It’s possible that you’ll spend more time with them than your spouse. And if you’re old enough to hold a professional position, you’ve likely developed the capacity to sense when someone doesn’t like you.
It’s easy to get crossed signals when you first start a new position. Still, there are times when your brain and gut unite. Call it what you like, but you feel those bad vibes. It’s a confusing time because you’re not sure how or what you might have done to earn the dislike of someone you don’t even know.
How to confirm your suspicion. Your co-worker may be battling inner demons. It may have nothing at all to do with you. Be a silent observer for a while. Are you the only one being treated less than kindly, or does this co-worker treat everyone the same way? It could be they’ve either got something going on in their personal or professional life—or that they have an unfortunate level of social ineptitude.
2. All emails, only emails
Productivity consultants will tell you that you’re wasting time on both sides of the equation when you add salutations or a polite “How’s it going?” to an email. Get right to the point, they tell you. Strike the sentence if it adds nothing to the progression of your communication.
Even so, email is a powerful distancing tool. Someone who doesn’t like you can use it to limit their interaction with you. It’s not a good sign if your team tends to spend a lot of time interacting face to face, but all you get from a certain co-worker are emails. They may be using this as a digital barrier.
How to confirm your suspicion. This gets back to what you don’t know about people. Maybe this co-worker is a firm believer in not wasting time on formalities. They should go be a consultant. You’ll be copied on enough emails to look at how this person uses email to interact with others on your team. Breathe a sigh of relief if everyone is treated with the same disregard. In this case, your co-worker doesn’t hate you. They’re just not capable of the standard pleasantries the rest of us use in email messages.
3. Voicemail hell
Let’s set email messages aside. What about phone calls? Consider it a problem sign if a co-worker replies with a one-word response when you ask how they’re doing. Raise that level of suspicion higher if they don’t even bother to respond to the question and change the subject.
This escalates to a serious problem if your co-worker doesn’t even take your call. We’re all busy. Few companies still enforce the policy that you must answer your phone if it rings. And most office phone systems have Caller ID. It’s possible that your co-worker dislikes you if all you ever get is their voicemail—especially if you’re certain they’re available when you call.
How to confirm your suspicion. Get up and take a walk to your co-worker’s office/cubicle when you call and get sent to voicemail. Are they wrapped up in concentration as they work on a project? Did they just get back to their desk? This co-worker has issues with you if you’re certain that neither situation applies.
Office technology isn’t the only way a co-worker can communicate their dislike. They often will show it in their body language. You’ll discover they won’t maintain eye contact with you. And, perhaps you’ll feel like there’s a target on your back because they’ll take every opportunity to shoot down your ideas.
You may never discover the cause of this dislike. We’re humans, and it’s a pipe dream to think we will be universally liked by everyone we work with. Healthy, positive working relationships create an environment that fosters success and innovation. But those relationships aren’t guaranteed.
Thankfully, few co-workers will go out of their way to cause you trouble. It puts their own career in jeopardy. It’s no fun to be disliked, but living well is the best revenge. Keep it pleasant. Keep it professional. You won’t be co-workers forever.
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