A 29-year-old man was known in his office for his friendly and social personality. However, little did he know that this positive attitude would soon lead to an awkward social situation with a colleague.
Creating A Welcoming Workplace
After his company identified the cold and unwelcoming attitude of their office, the man was given the role of improving office morale, organizing events, and addressing team dynamics.
The man’s work was received very positively, and he was popular in the office for this reason. “I’d like to say I’m pretty darn well-liked and haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary yet”, the man beamed.
New Team Member
A new team member, a 31-year-old woman, had recently joined the company and was working in sales. She tended to be quiet and had not integrated well into the office social scene, possibly due to her introverted nature and the fact that she was new.
Misunderstanding In The Elevator
During her first week, the man noticed that the new colleague dropped her key card, so he tried to return it. However, when he approached her desk, she preemptively rejected any personal interaction and stated her preference for keeping work and personal life separate.
This snappy reaction made the man feel uncomfortable and seemed to set the tone for their interactions. He perceived her actions as unfriendly and unapproachable, leading him to respect her boundaries by only engaging with her through group emails and maintaining a certain distance.
The Public Apology
The next day, the lady approached the man to apologize for her overly presumptuous attitude, as she felt like he was going to ask her out on a date, which she felt uncomfortable about. However, the man explained that “she did so in front of a crowd of people to whom I then had to explain myself”, making matters more awkward.
Office Gossip And Isolation
Recently, the man’s colleagues have asked if he has an issue with the new team member. She mentioned to them that she felt excluded from social events outside of work and was not being invited to lunches.
Consequences Of Social Status
Furthermore, the woman’s public negative interactions with the man have also caused a ripple effect within the workplace. The man speculated that his positive social status has led others to distance themselves from the woman as well.
Whilst the man initially felt that limiting social interactions and keeping his distance from the woman was the right thing to do, the conflict it created caused him to think otherwise. He wondered whether he should have let the altercation go immediately, and helped her integrate into the social workplace.
The Wise Web
Heading to the Internet for assistance, the man was met with plenty of support from online strangers. “She told you she wants to keep work life and personal life separate, why would you invite her to things that are outside of work? You’re just respecting a boundary she set”, one person wrote in defence of the man.
Other commenters focussed on the lady’s presumptuous attitude: “Weird that she thought you were automatically hitting on her”, someone wrote. “Invite her or have people invite her but keep the convo to a minimum. Maybe invite your partner along so she can see you’re in a committed relationship”.
Approach With Caution
One reader even suggested the man should flag the issue to HR. “Not as a complaint against her, but to cover your ass”, he explained. “If she’s coming into a new office with the assumption that every friendly person is hitting on her, it could become a problem if she misinterprets your invites”.
Unfortunately, many commenters were pessimistic about the situation, telling the man to expect more of the same. “You have a dramatic co-worker”, they wrote. “If she really was sorry for jumping to a conclusion, she would have approached you in private, not forced you to explain in front of your other co-workers. Now she’s causing more drama. She’s going to be a problem.”
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