my coworker will only talk to me over g-chat

A reader writes:

I have been working at a small repossession company for six months. Since I started, my coworker has been giving me the cold shoulder.

She is an account manager for a client of ours, and I am essentially her partner on helping maintain the account. When I first started, she was friendly at first, but towards the second week of training, she became very firm and her training started becoming like a dictatorship. I tried breaking the ice and asking her questions about her family, her dogs, etc., and she answered but she never asked any back. I quickly surmised she didn’t want to be bothered and stopped asking anything not work-related. I went to my manager and explained my feelings of how I felt maybe it wouldn’t be a very good partnership, but my manager assured me the way my coworker came off towards me was because she was pregnant and was uptight because of that.

Well, things have not gotten better since she had her baby and went on maternity leave. There isn’t any friendly banter, small talk, or anything. If there is anything that needs to be said to each other, we say it through Google Chat but we sit RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. She regularly has conversations with everyone around our cubicle area, but definitely excludes me from any of them. I feel very isolated in this job, and even though I like my job duties, I hate feeling alone.

Do you have to have a warmer relationship with her in order to do your job well?

I can certainly understand why you’d prefer to, but since for whatever reason she’s not interested in that, I’d either ask her what’s up (“Hey Jane, have I done something to offend you?”) or accept that that’s not going to happen and see if you can enjoy your job anyway.

For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like her behavior is actually getting in the way of you two working effectively together; she does communicate with you about work-related matters, just not personal ones. I get that it must sting to see that she talks more warmly with others (so it’s not just a case of her preferring not to have personal conversations at all), but as long as she’s communicating well with you on work stuff, that’s really what matters.

If you prefer not to use G-chat to talk to her and would rather talk in person, it’s fine to say that. The next time she G-chats you about something you’d rather use a different medium for, turn to her and say, “Let’s talk in person about this — it will be easier.” If she refuses to do that when you’ve directed requested it, then there’s a real problem that you can address with her (“what’s behind your preference for IM’ing?”) … but unless you’ve directly told her that you prefer to communicate differently and been met with a refusal, things aren’t at that point yet. So express a different preference, or ask what’s going on and see what happens.

Also, I don’t know what was up with your manager attributing your coworker’s behavior to being pregnant (and I don’t think most pregnant employees would appreciate people saying they were “uptight” because of pregnancy). However, I’m not sure that it’s something that should have been taken to your manager in the first place, because it’s okay if your coworker doesn’t want to discuss personal topics with you. As long as she’s willing to be pleasant and professional when it comes to work conversation, the rest of it isn’t really something to be “solved.”

{ 261 comments… read them below }

  1. jag

    It seems inherently inappropriate for someone to talk face-to-face with everyone in an office except for one person, even if that behavior does not directly affect the work output.

    Office morale has value, and the morale of one employee should be considered in that.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Sure, but the coworker isn’t obligated to have personal chit chat with the OP, which is most of what the OP is focusing on in her letter.

      If the coworker refuses to communicate by any method other than g-chat, that’s an issue, but the OP would first need to say, “hey, let’s talk face to face about this” and have it refused before really being able to raise it as an issue. If she hasn’t said that yet, that’s the next step.

      1. just passing through. . .

        I got the impression that the chit-chat was an effort to thaw the coworker out.

        1. Observer

          And that may very well have been the problem. If the coworker believes that she should be calling the shots (whether she is correct or not), then it’s quite possible that she reacted to attempts to push back on that via chit chat by refusing to engage.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            This. I had a chatty coworker who I liked just fine, but my workload was more than hers, and I didn’t have the luxury of constant carefree chatting. She’d be ready to talk kids, dogs, etc., and I felt like I needed to wrap it up after brief pleasantries and get back to work. I also felt like chatting much with her would only prime her to chat more, so I kept things a little more reserved with her than I would with a less chatty coworker.

            1. Cruella Da Boss

              You said it right here….it is all about being “pleasant” to one another. Studies show if one does not feel their work experience is “pleasant,” then their productivity actually suffers. I don’t think OP is asking that this coworker sit down for a prayer circle or anything. But to feel like others are interested in ones basic well being does a great deal towards a positive work environment.

      2. jag

        “She regularly has conversations with everyone around our cubicle area, but definitely excludes me from any of them. I feel very isolated in this job, and even though I like my job duties, I hate feeling alone.”

        Talking with everyone but one person, pointedly (assuming what the OP says is true) is a problem. For all we know the OP might even be the cause – bad breath or who knows. But this is not a healthy work environment.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I certainly agree with that. But it’s the OP who’s writing in, not the coworkers, and there are only limited options available to her here. She can ask what’s going on, or she can make her peace with it since she’s getting what she needs to do her job (or she can leave, but I’d try the other two first).

        2. Swarley

          I disagree. You don’t need to like your coworkers and have personal conversations with them to maintain a healthy work environment. Being professional, working as a team, and getting results should suffice. Do I think that building rapport with your coworkers helps accomplish the above? Absolutely. But it isn’t necessary.

          1. GrumpyBoss

            This is going to be a YMMV situation depending on you, the environment, and the coworker.

            Not saying that the OP is this way at all, but have you ever had that coworker who is trying to build rapport with you, but is incredibly insincere?

            1. Natalie

              Bleh, I have a social acquaintance (a friend’s boyfriend) who does that. It’s like talking to a very oily salesman.

              1. Koko

                My college boyfriend’s best friend was this type. I used to say, “He’s so slick he doesn’t walk, he glides.”

          2. Concerned

            I agree but when you’re the odd one out it can be painful. Particularly when you don’t know why.

        3. Relosa

          I agree – I work with about 25 other people total, and the only managers are myself, the GM, and an asst. manager who is my equal (Though my title is sales, whatever…)

          He doesn’t talk to me unless it’s required. Literally ignores me in the room. When we do talk he is aggressive, combative, and dismissive.

          Believe me, everyone notices.

    2. illini02

      I kind of think this comes down to forcing someone to talk to people they don’t like. If I don’t like one of my co-workers, why do I have to have personal conversations with them. Again, being able to talk work is one thing. But if you ask me about my family, and I don’t want to share, nor do I have any interest in your family, why do I have to. I’m sure it sucks for the OP that her “partner” doesn’t like her. But can she not speak to anyone else. I just don’t think forcing an adult who doesn’t like another adult to talk about things other than work is ever a good idea. I don’t even really like forcing kids to do it, but I get it. But adults in the workplace? No.

      1. Along for the ride

        I agree 100%. Adults should not be forced to like one another. Secondly, no one can make you feel alone at work, but yourself. If there are other co-workers, why have she not struck up a “chit-chatting” relationship with them? Perhaps something you said or done did offended her and she doesn’t trust you with a personal relationship. Anytime you run to your boss to tell that someone doesn’t like you, you think they are being mean to you, does not set a good tone. It make one believe you are will run and tattle about anything that is said.

  2. Armchair Analyst

    I’m pregnant, and I’m uptight about someone else’s uptightness being excuse because of pregnancy.
    #meta

    1. Logan

      “my manager assured me the way my coworker came off towards me was because she was pregnant and was uptight because of that.”

      Um WHAT?! If I were in coworker’s shoes, I would be incredibly wary of OP’s manager and and by extension, the OP, if being professional but not friendly enough was written off as pregnancy hormones.

      wtf wtf wtf

    2. Jamie

      Yeah – without context this sounds bad and for that reason shouldn’t have been said.

      But we all fill in the blanks with our experience and my first thought was a difficult pregnancy – maybe waiting for tests to come back and see if the baby is okay, other concerns. When life gets scary it can be normal to get more uptight and edgy about everything…but if that’s what happened the manager shouldn’t have said it. And if it’s not what happened and just chalking it up to women being big ole hormone containers than someone needs to take sensitivity training.

      1. Niki

        I agree with you. While not all pregnant women are automatically uptight just because they are pregnant, it could be correlated with it. Also, it is completely unprofessional and inappropriate for the op’s manager to say, even if it was the reason the coworker was acting this way.

      2. Observer

        Another way of putting it is that the manager seems to have messed up regardless – either discussing a medical condition that really shouldn’t have been shared (ie pregnancy PROBLEMS), or just being stupidly prejudiced about pregnant women in general. Anyone have a third interpretation?

        1. Jeanne

          #3: The manager doesn’t want to be honest with the OP. He knows this coworker behaves this way but he isn’t willing to manage and he can’t admit he’s a bad manager.

          I agree that OP will have to find a way to deal with this. Everyone else is ok with the coworker’s behavior.

          1. sunny-dee

            Or, #4 — the manager knows or suspects that the coworker can’t stand the OP and was trying to find a nice way to say, “yeah, it’s not you! you’re great! it’s just, you know, hormones.” He may have been trying to soften the situation.

    3. hayling

      I think we can take at face value that the manager was trying to provide context for the coworker’s actions (i.e. she’s having personal difficulties that might make her less sociable right now) instead of getting hung up on the wording.

  3. Kateyjl

    For more than a simple question, I much prefer face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversation. I hate sitting there waiting for a response to materialize only to have it be “ok”. Such a time waster.

    I’m thinking the g-chatter is keeping the chat history to somehow use against the OP. Why else would you want everything in writing?

    1. Vicki

      Hmmm…. For more than a simple question, I prefer email or IM. Our schedules may not match, we have to find a conference room so we don;t both people, and… you Are going to take notes, right? Good ones? No?

      How about if I answer your question in email then so it’s all written down and you can read it over when you’re not rushed.

      I want everything in writing because then I (and you) can refer back to it later. There are many reasons to want to communicate (especially complex Q&A) in writing.

      1. Jamie

        Yep – want to refer back for the specifics but also when you don’t remember X conversation which you approved Y and I acted on that approval…

        Oh wait – here’s that email you sent. Nothing like it to jog the memory. I’m getting too old for he said/she said.

  4. just passing through. . .

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think this would pique my curiosity enough to address the cold shoulder head on. Pull her kindly aside and just ask (with a countenance of genuinely wanting to make things right)…”Did I at some point do something to offend you?”

    …and leave it right there. See what she comes back with..facial cues, body language, etc. You DON’T want to say “…because I notice you tend to ignore me…”and the like. Just a kind, open-ended question. I can’t help feeling that something happened that may have put her off–inadvertent on your end, but “something”?

    Good luck either way; that’s a lousy way to spend a work day.

    1. OP

      That’s a great suggestion, but I have been too passive aggressive to do this. I positively hate confrontation.

      1. just passing through. . .

        But that’s the thing…you’re not confronting her. You’re not accusing her of anything (because you won’t be pointing out her behavior); you’re manner and attitude would be of genuinely wanting to know if you did something that put her off.

        1. Jamie

          Not confronting in an aggressive way, but she would be confronting her with how she feels about being excluded – why should the co-worker have to discuss feelings as long as she’s being professional and civil when discussing work.

          I think that’s really intrusive. Maybe she just doesn’t like her. Again as long as she’s not hindering work or being rude that’s okay and she shouldn’t have to justify her feelings.

          1. Sans

            There are people at work I don’t like. And I still talk to them because it’s the courteous, professional thing to do. To talk to everyone except one person is rude and unprofessional. Unless the OP did something unbelievably offensive and over the line — otherwise I think pointedly excluding one person is something right out of middle school.

            1. Worker B

              It is, and frankly, pointed behavior deliberately excluding one person like this has destroyed certain relationships in my own office. It’s unbelievably unprofessional.

              1. Not So NewReader

                Definitely an unfriendly and cold environment though. If she can talk with everyone else there, then she can talk with OP. I would be more sympathetic toward the coworker if she did not talk to others also- okay she is shy/quiet/whatever. But that is not the case here. Clearly, she is singling OP out as a problem. Rather than letting OP know what is wrong, she is going out of her way to make OP feel like an outsider. Kindergarten stuff, if you ask me.

          2. Nerd Girl

            But the OP said that for the first week or so the woman was not like this. She said it was sudden and a complete change from how it had previously been. That’s unusual and I think asking “Did I do something at some point to offiend you?” is a legitimate question. Obviously something happened. People don’t go from nice to ice without cause. Well, normal people don’t.

            1. fposte

              She didn’t say it was sudden, actually; she just says it changed by the end of the second week of training. That seems a reasonable time for chemistry to be clearly failing with somebody (or for them just to be fed up with somebody who sandpapers them). I’m not ruling out the possibility that the OP stepped on a toe somewhere, but it really isn’t the same as a sudden 180 from somebody you’ve worked with for ages who now turns a cold shoulder.

          3. badger_doc

            Jamie, I completely agree! Curious though, what would you say to the OP if she approached you about why you never talk to her like you do your other coworkers? I had this happen in my last place of employment–I really did not like one of my coworkers, and had a dozen perfectly good reasons as to why not. So I purposely did not talk to him about anything personal, just strictly work-related topics and was short, sweet and to the point. But when he went to my boss, I was questioned extensively about it, which was really none of their business as I was not hindering his work at all. What do you say in a situation like that without sounding unprofessional? I can’t just say “I don’t like him” or “I don’t discuss personal info at work” because I do with other people…

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              You could say something like, “It’s true that we don’t have the same kind of personal rapport that I have with some other people, but we work together smoothly and I certainly always try to be pleasant in our conversations.”

            2. Natalie

              Wow, that would be such an awkward conversation.

              I’d probably go with something not-untrue, but a little kinder than “I just don’t like X”. Maybe “Dunno, I just don’t have much to say to them…?” I feel like you’d want to sound like you haven’t really thought about it, though.

            3. Jamie

              I’m thinking back to the people I’ve genuinely disliked at work and without exception I had issues with all of 5 of them (over a whole career – not 5 now) due to competence and work related problems.

              So if asked I’d probably say I get frustrated because of XYZ but that I’m certainly civil and professional and ask for examples of issues where my not liking them has impacted work. (And then ask why they aren’t yet fired. Kidding. Sort of.)

              I’m not saying I love everyone else, and I’m certainly not outside of work friends with more than a handful of people, but for me to get to the point where I just dislike you at work…you had to cause me some serious hardship over a period of time with either your laziness, incompetence, or lack of ethics. Otherwise I’m perfectly friendly – maybe because I tend to stay drama free and am not one who notices who talks to who more or who does or doesn’t say hi to me I don’t get offended much.

              1. badger_doc

                Thanks! I appreciate that! I wish I had that answer a few years ago… Some of your reasons are exactly like mine and that would have been helpful to frame up my answer like that. Instead I got the slap on the wrist with the advice to “you need to be cheery and say hi to everyone and smile more at him” feedback, which I HATED! Ugh… I’m glad I don’t have that situation where I work now!

                1. Jamie

                  Oh it’s brutal – because no if I have to work longer and harder to clean up your messes…or wouldn’t trust you if your tongue came notarized I’m not going to braid your hair at the sleepover. Thems the rules.

                  And it’s been a few years since I’ve gotten this one but for years the only negative on my performance review was be more approachable when stressed, smile even when frazzled because your mood helps set the tone of the office. Really? Why on earth of all of the other options out there would anyone chose to use me as an emotional barometer? That is such a BAD idea. And I still don’t care about greetings or saying hello but I started doing that consistently – along with the smile and “hey – ‘sup?” head jut when I see someone in the hallways and I haven’t gotten that feedback since.

                  Most superficial and easiest fix to a work problem ever.

                2. Joey

                  Too funny Jamie. I once got “not approachable, you come off like you’re better than everyone else. Ever since I have three go to’s when I pass people in the hall “what’s up Dan?” , “Daaaaan” or “morning Dan”.

          4. Cat

            Mm, I think clearly freezing someone out in a way you’re not freezing someone else out is being rude. You don’t have to be friends with people at work, and I don’t see anything wrong with rebuffing the small talk, but you do have to not treat one person obviously more coldly than everyone else.

            1. AnonyMouse

              I agree with this, especially if it’s just a personality fit issue and they haven’t actually done anything wrong. It’s perfectly fine not to like a coworker, but you do need to try not to treat them glaringly worse than everyone else for the sake of maintaining morale – and if this means bringing the overall friendliness level down a tiny notch, so be it.

          5. Anna

            I work with a woman I don’t particularly like. I don’t know why, I can’t put my finger on it, but we just don’t click. However, I’m willing to bet she would have a hard time figuring that out because I make a point of not treating her any differently than I do anyone else I work with and like just fine. We have to work together closely and it would not help me or the company I work for if I were a jerk to her. It would also probably get me fired right quick.

            1. Mister Pickle

              I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
              The reason why – I cannot tell;
              But this I know, and know full well,
              I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

              – Tom Brown, circa 1680

          6. Ted Mosby

            Why do people keep saying “as long as she’s being professional” or “as long as she’s not being rude?”

            Refusing to talk to someone face to face who is sitting right next to you is not professional, and it is rude.

            Can you imagine if an employer gave someone a reference about you and said “Oh, she was great, but she refused to speak to people she didn’t like. If she needed to talk to someone she didn’t like, she just did it over GChat, even if they were in the same room. It sure saved her the headache! She was really the epitome of professionalism and class, though.”

            No one would want that said about them, because it is TOTALLY unprofessional. It sounds socially inept at best.

            1. QK

              There are fields where talking over gchat to your neighbors (instead of verbally) is quite common. I work in tech, and we do it all the time. Now, if a co-worker told me they really referred talking in person, I’d be happy to make that adjustment when talking to them specifically. But it doesn’t sound like the OP has spoken up about that.

              1. Ted Mosby

                I see your point, and that makes total sense. Just from the rest of the letter, it seems like she is doing this specifically to avoid speaking with someone she doesn’t like, not because it’s a cultural norm there. That was just my reading.

      2. kozinskey

        I think asking her what’s going on is really what you should do, though. I have a feeling that she may be holding a grudge for something that isn’t apparent to you — say, an off comment or even something like bad breath. If you don’t ask, you can’t stop doing whatever bothered/bothers her.

        As a side note, the concept that someone is “uptight” because they’re pregnant smacks of sexism to me, so I would definitely try to forget that conversation ever happened. (And try to avoid calling women uptight if you can.)

      3. FamilyofRobot

        I’m on your side OP but perhaps being “passive aggressive” is part of the problem. Maybe she’s picking up stubbornness, hostility, sarcasm, etc. from you and is in turn also behaving in a passive aggressive manner. Is that a possibility?

        1. olives

          This was my thinking too, unless the use of the term “passive aggressive” was meant to imply something else. Especially given the “I positively hate confrontation” comment, I can see where that might irk someone.

          1. FamilyofRobot

            Yeah, it wasn’t exactly clear. I hate confrontation too but I hate passive aggressive behavior more. So I’d rather confront someone than have them think I’m passive aggressive and can’t fight my battles in a productive way.

    2. Lily in NYC

      Yeah, and while I get what Alison says about still being able to do the job without having a warm relationship, this would bug me. It seems personal. Sure I can still do my job well, but if this the person I work with the most at my job, and whom I sit next to for 8 hours a day, I don’t want to always feel like I have to walk on eggshells.

  5. OP

    She’s not very pleasant in the G-chats either. It’s either.. I’ll ask her a question and she answers it or she’ll g-chat me a client account to tell me what I did wrong or what I should of done. It’s just weird how I’m left alone while she chats along with everyone on our row except me. I get my work done and my manger says I’m doing great, but it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a sour opinion on some of my co workers(they don’t talk to me either well the ones in the area where my partner and I are)

    1. Student

      As someone who doesn’t pal around with my co-workers much, you sound awfully entitled to me.

      This woman is not obligated to be your friend. She is not obligated to be “pleasant” in g-chat, real chat, or email towards you. That is true even if she is “pleasant” towards other people you work with.

      She is obligated to be professional. She is obligated to give you the info and feedback you need in a timely manner to do your job well. Your own description makes it sound like that is exactly what she is doing.

      Your comments remind me of guys who tell me to “Smile!” when I’m in a bad mood (or just an average mood). If you treat a person like that, it can make the person on the receiving end feel like a performing clown. People like that think I ought to be pleasing to them. I am not here to please them. I am here to get a job done. Anyone who expects or directs me to be more pleasing is deliberately going to get exactly the opposite from me. People who respect my work, though – I’m friendly toward them.

      1. Sans

        I don’t think she sounds entitled when she sees someone being pleasant toward everyone but herself. She sounds human. She’s not expecting special treatment or to be best buds with her co-worker. She would just like to not be pointedly excluded. I don’t blame her.

      2. jag

        “I am not here to please them. I am here to get a job done.”

        Yes, but if you appear to try to please everyone except one person, you’re doing something wrong. It’s OK to be super-nice to one or two people and treat everyone else the same. But to treat everyone “nicely” except one specific person is unprofessional.

        This is assuming the OP’s story is true.

        “Anyone who expects or directs me to be more pleasing is deliberately going to get exactly the opposite from me.” I can understand not changing in response to their request (I do that all the time), but deliberately going in the opposite direction seems rather petty.

        1. AnonyMouse

          Exactly. Lots of people aren’t particularly interested in being friendly or making friends at work and that’s fine, but being obviously colder/meaner to one person than to everyone else is a problem.

      3. Sarabeth

        Disagree. I hate the “smile” BS, but it’s unprofessional to present a significantly colder persona to one person than you do to everyone else in the office. You don’t need to go overboard, but basic professional courtesies like having a verbal conversation are not too much to expect.

      4. Sadsack

        Is it entitled of me to expect that my coworker will treat me with the same courtesy and respect that she treats everyone else in the office? I don’t think so. OP doesn’t seem to be whining because she thought they were best buds and now they aren’t. OP is seeing and feeling an obvious negative response toward her from her coworker. The mature thing to do would be to inquire about it, because maybe it is a simple misunderstanding that has the coworker being cold toward her. Just writing it off because, hey, she doesn’t HAVE to be nice to me, is ridiculous.

        1. Jamie

          Why is chit chat about personal lives being conflated with courtesy and respect? You can be courteous without being disrespectful – no one condoning rude behavior.

          The difference between how she treats the OP and others is about personal interaction – not professional courtesy. I’m trying to understand this – you think people should show the same level of interest in other people whether they feel it or not?

          I have work friends that when they planned their wedding we talked a lot (outside of work) about wedding plans – others who do send pics of their babies because we’re friends. When my youngest was going to prom I frantically texted them pics of tie/vest color combos to help select. When my daughter went to prom one gave her a gorgeous silk dress and I emailed my work friends pics as soon as she was dressed.

          If I had to feign the same level of interest in everyone’s life, whether I cared or not, isn’t that more insulting? To me it’s respectful to professionally work with someone and not pretend to be interested in personal chat with them if you’re not. I would find it unbelievably patronizing if someone who wasn’t interested came to ask me about my cats, because they asked someone else about something personal and wanted to make sure they were treating us equally.

          I get being polite to everyone and if there are a bunch of people standing around chatting it’s rude to deliberately ignore one person. You can talk about the weather with anyone – but it’s unreasonable to expect people to fake personal interest in people. It’s an unfair burden to the person just trying to do their job and it’s condescending to the person forceably included.

          Shunning is wrong – deliberate bullying is wrong – but lack of personal inclusion isn’t bullying.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny

            I work with my husband, so I really hope people aren’t expecting me to treat all coworkers with the same level of personal warmth!

          2. FamilyofRobot

            Perhaps OP needs to clarify, but to me it seems that refusing to talk to someone except through g-chat and refusing to make even polite conversation with someone isn’t very courteous.

          3. Cat

            I think there’s two things going on:

            1) It’s rude to have warm, friendly, personal conversations with everyone in a small area except one person. Yeah, it’s annoying if you like everyone in your cubicle area but one person, but if you want to exclude that one person you need to take it elsewhere. You can’t just all chat about your dogs and then glare at the other person who tries to join in.

            2) It’s rude to have warm, friendly conversations about anything with everyone but one person and then freeze out a single person in the same area and only talk to them electronically.

            Those are shunning and bullying behaviors. She doesn’t need to pretend to be BFFs with this woman, but she can’t treat her markedly different than everyone else in the same space. That’s not okay. She can keep all work interactions impersonal and keep personal interactions with co-workers she likes out of the immediate work environment, but she’s clearly not doing that.

              1. Cat

                Yes, I hadn’t read all the way down when I’ve read the thread. It’s hard to know without knowing more about the workplace dynamics, but it does sound like this office is still more cliquish than would be ideal.

          4. fposte

            I agree with your principle in your last line, but I think that what’s going on here may be more than that. It may not be bullying or evil, but it’s certainly thoughtless and counterproductive to only communicate with people about what they did wrong, for instance.

            This is the “people aren’t computers” thing, the “communication is more than just information” thing. As I’m sure many of us do, I envision various people I know in the roles in a question like this; I could see somebody sitting next to our rampant office chatterbox trying to limit communication to keyboarding, but I couldn’t imagine the office remaining congenial if that communication was only correction and never affirmation, and I wouldn’t be happy with an employee who was doing that.

            1. jag

              Am reminded of Paul Watzlawick’s first axiom of communication: “One cannot not communicate.”

              Link below.

          5. Sadsack

            You misunderstand me. Chit chat is unneccessary, but being polite is. If the coworker’s behavior is as bad as OP explained, she is completely ostracizing her. Only discussing anything work related is fine, but demanding it only be via online chat at all times is freaking weird — unless OP did something to cause it, which is why Allison recommended asking what’s up.

      5. MJH

        I don’t think it’s demanding to expect your coworker to talk to you like a normal person. We have a woman on our team who is perfectly professional, but refuses to talk or interact with us outside of short answers. She doesn’t say goodbye. She doesn’t chat. Of course she doesn’t have to, but it is still incredibly uncomfortable to feel as though someone hates you.

        The work gets done no matter what and our jobs don’t even overlap, but it is stressful and bad for morale and it’s not being entitled to want general pleasantness in the office.

        1. jag

          I actually don’t think this person’s behavior is bad. If she did it to just one person (or only to women, or only to admins, or only to men), that would be bad.

        2. RobM

          If she’s doing it to everyone then why would any one of you feel as though someone hates you?

          Some people aren’t interested in interacting socially with colleagues. She’s taking it to an extreme, and one that will probably harm her career progression at that, but I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with that.

      6. FamilyofRobot

        Doesn’t being professional mean being pleasant and respectful to your coworkers? Pleasant could just mean friendly and considerate. That doesn’t mean you have to actually be friends, but is it really that difficult to not be unfriendly to people even if you don’t like them that much?

        And I agree with jag that deliberately giving the opposite if someone asks you to be pleasing is petty, and somewhat juvenile.

        1. Zillah

          I’m with you in hating the “Smile, sweetheart!” nonsense.

          However, I do feel like it’s reasonable to generally expect people who see each other on a regular basis to be polite and courteous to one another. Refusing to talk to someone sitting next to you is a bit off to me.

      7. MRO

        Really? As someone who tries to be civil to coworkers she doesn’t like, you should very petulant.

        The thing is, being pleasant IS a part of being professional. You are obligated to talk to your coworkers face to face when you’re in the same room as them, not just GChat them. You are obligated not to be brusque. And you are obligated to say hi to coworkers, even ones you don’t like.

    2. Jamie

      I’m not trying to pile on, but what would you consider pleasant in G-chat? Sounds like it’s her job to answer questions and critique your work and that’s what she’s doing.

      As someone who delivers opportunities for improvement all the time I get very frustrated by people who want every correction softened with two compliments (thank you very much whomever invented the compliment sandwich thing /s).

      You seem to need something from her she’s not giving you – maybe if you looked at that and figured out why it bothers you and what you really need (assurance, validation, acceptance, whatever) it would help as you could find a way to get that need(s) met without involving her. And then she’d become a non-issue.

      1. Episkey

        Jamie, I usually agree with you, but I think you’re being a little harsh here. If we’re taking the OP at face value, it sounds like the co-worker only communicates with her over IM to 1) answer a specific question that the OP asks; or 2) criticize her. I don’t think the OP is saying she needs a compliment/validation all the time, but she sees this person being warm & friendly with other people in the office — of course it’s going to be a little hurtful or seem a bit Mean Girls when she’s the only one that’s being either ignored/excluded or treated harshly.

        And I do think it’s unprofessional to single one person out & act completely differently in a cold manner towards them than with everyone else in the office. I’ve worked in offices where I’ve had co-workers I don’t particularly like, but I was never cold/exclusionary towards them.

        1. Jamie

          With the additional posts from the OP I think there are communication issues at play here which lead me to believe it was probably a deliberate choice to have work conversations in a written format. Clearly the issue is far beyond what was stated in the original letter.

    3. Anonsie

      Do you actually interject to the chit-chat, or do you wait to be invited in? If you talk to them, do they pointedly ignore you? Are you trying to talk to them? Because if they’re all talking and you’re not joining in and you’re feeling excluded… There seems to be an easy solution to that.

      Sorry if that seems obvious (“duh Anonsie of course I’m trying to talk to them”) but I’ve known plenty of people who will sit there and not make any moves to be involved with people and then be upset later that they were “left out” because they were waiting for a direct invitation. They might think you’re ignoring them because they can have a whole conversation around you and you never ever chime in.

      Similarly, I wouldn’t say it’s all cold to be matter of fact in written communication. Your chats don’t need to be peppered with exclamation points and upbeat language to avoid being rude– though this is a company culture thing. A lot of places see messages (and especially messages from women) to be uptight or cold if they aren’t softened like that.

      1. Us, Too

        These are good points, too. In particular, joining into semi-public conversations even if you’re not explicitly invited to do so. I figure if I’m chatting in the break room with someone about, say, Halloween, that any colleague who is interested in joining our chat … will join it. :) And if every time I’m having a casual chat and Wakeen walks in and just grabs his coffee and skulks off without even making eye contact, I’m going to think he isn’t interested in chatting much. Which is fine, but I’m not going to go out of my way to include him in chats explicitly that is for sure! Nor am I likely to invite him to lunch, etc.

        Contrast that to the new person who overhears our Halloween chat and says “Oh, wow, is Halloween a big deal here? I hope so because I love Halloween. I made a point of dressing all my goldfish in matching Game of Thrones costumes this year. Hold on, I have pics on my iPhone….”

      2. loxthebox

        Story Time!

        Back in the 4th grade there was ‘the new kid.’ And at recess everybody who was anybody was playing tag, which apparently the new kid organized. I was never invited, so everyday instead of playing tag with my friends, I would swing (I’ve been an engineer for a looonnng time). Then I would go home and be sad because no one would play with me at recess. One day I was being sad at my mom and she bestowed upon me The Motherly Wisdom of Moms Know Everything. She told me that I should go to them and ask to play. “But whhhyyy won’t they ask meeeee?? If I’m always going to other people, why can’t they just come to me instead?” She told me that it’s just the way the world works, and I should try it. Soooo with much begrudging resentment, I did. And guess what? They let me play. So instead of being sad on the swings everyday, I was now playing tag with my friends. And it was really that simple.

        I have anecdotes about how that’s not always the case too, but over the years I’ve found it to be true more often than not. Sometimes people just don’t know you want to be included, or they think that by not asking, that you’re not interested or that you don’t like them.

        TL;DR – You can’t wait for people to come to you, you need to put yourself out there.

        1. Anonsie

          Oh yes, I’m pretty shy by nature but my dad is one of those who strikes up conversations with strangers wherever he goes. When we’d go to the park when I was a kid I’d just sit by him on the bench, so he’d point to some kids and tell me to go tell them my name and ask if I could play with them. He definitely cultivated that askiness (re: ask vs guess) in me.

    4. Ann without an e

      I am sorry your co-workers are doing this to you. I read a wonderful book called, “In the company of women” it is about the unique structure working with a majority female group can create, even when the boss is male. You might also want to try another book about mean girls at work. There are also some psychology resources you can give a try to teach your self how to recognize dysfunctional behavior in others and how to deal with it professionally. Remember your position was open for a reason, perhaps your co-workers are the reason. Sometimes people leave for an opportunity elsewhere, sometimes a company grows and needs more manpower, and sometimes dysfunctional toxic people run off the talent. Always ask why the position you are interviewing for is open.

    5. Beth

      You ask a question, she answers it, and that’s a problem? What is it you would like her to do when you ask her a question?

  6. jordanjay29

    This honestly sounds like the coworker is creating a hostile work environment towards you. It might be unintentional, but the refusal to speak face to face and her demeanor over GChat is frustratingly toxic. I wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior, and neither should you.

    1. CA Admin

      “Hostile work environment” is a specific legal term, relating to discrimination based on legally-protected classes. It does not mean any toxic work environment. I’ll agree that this seems toxic, but I’d disagree that this is a hostile work environment in the legal sense, unless there’s something huge from the story that we’re missing.

      1. Adonday Veeah

        This. Toxic, crappy, unfriendly, with maybe a touch of bullying tossed in, but not hostile.

        1. jordanjay29

          While it may not qualify for a lawsuit, it’s certainly not a place I’d want to be working.

      2. HR Manager

        Yep, just because you’re unhappy in a work environment, even if legitimately so, it’s not a ‘hostile work environment”.

        To quote Inigo Montoya: “I don’t think it means what you think it means”

        1. jordanjay29

          Inigo Montoya’s holy words are intended for someone who blatantly misuses a word in careless disregard for its definition (e.g. that something could not be predicted instead of admitting that one simply failed to predict such).

          Instead, this was a misuse based on a subtle distinction, namely that the phrase has a verifiable legal definition of which I was unaware. To a layman, the difference between hostile work environment and toxic work environment, one being a legal term and the other not, might be so close that both terms become interchangeable and thus wind up in the lexicon of someone not educated in the legal profession.

          I reject your bandied quote in an attempt to chide my well-intentioned post. Please save such tactics for reddit or other such sites.

          1. Jamie

            Whenever anyone mentions hostile work environment we always make it a point to clarify that common usage is not what is meant by the term. Because it’s such a common misconception and it’s a public service to make sure the point is made every time so people don’t run to HR because they misunderstand the term. It’s really important in a forum with this subject matter to clarify it every time for new readers because diluting it spreads misinformation.

            We do the same when people conflate hourly with non-exempt and salaried with exempt. They are often paired that way in practice, but the law only recognizes the except-ness of positions and not how they are paid and other things like nuances of FMLA, the NLRA, etc.

            Knowing what constitutes a hostile work environment is something every one who is or will ever be employed should know – not just members of the legal professions. People need to know what protections they do and do not have under the law.

            HR manager was just trying to do a nice thing by pointing it out and I read the quote as an attempt to keep the tone light since they were just pointing something out and not making a big critical deal out of it.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I don’t know – maybe we should call it a toxic environment or a nasty environment and just avoid the word hostile so that it really clear that we are not trying to use a legal term. I think people go to “hostile” as a default. “Unfriendly” seems inadequate somehow.
              I try not to use the word much here because of this. However, I do use the word for other conversations and what I mean is cruel or soulless. I think that “toxic” would be a good word. Other words just don’t have the full impact.

            2. HR Manager

              Thank you for that. It wasn’t intended as a personal jab – I thought everyone enjoys Princess Bride references. I guess I’ll be careful next time I quote Fezzik and “Anybody want a peanut?” in case it’s taken as my wanting someone with an unknown peanut allergy actual serious physical harm.

              For the record, I hear a lot of people confuse the hostile work environment thing because it is taken literally, rather than understanding the legal definition. I can’t tell you how many employees who are unhappy or have a gripe, coming into HR, thinking they have a legal right to resolution of their complaint. I think it’s worthwhile re-iterating the difference.

  7. Hermione

    I wonder if you offended her at some point without intending to? It’s odd to me that she would be friendly at first and then do such a hard about-face. Are you having problems with anybody else in your immediate area?

    1. OP

      Nope, no problems. When I first started I was my usual
      Friendly bubbly self and tried to get to know the other people in the area and they answered questions but it was clear they didn’t really want to make a relationship so I stopped trying to engage. My co worker and the people in my area are in a little clique so to speak.. It’s so much more than her just only speaking to me during G-chat. I’ve never experienced this level of pettiness in a work place.

      1. LQ

        I’m really confused because you also say that you have been frozen out by your entire row or group. A bit of clarification might help to get some better suggestions on how to handle this situation.

      2. AnotherHRPro

        Have you developed relationships with others in your office? There is no rule that we have to be friends with everyone we work with. Sometimes people just don’t like other people. And you really can’t require them be develop personal relationships. If you want more personal relationships at work, find someone else. And if you do not like they way your co-worker interacts with you (i.e., g-chat) it really is up to you to talk to her and come to an agreement on how you will communicate with each other. But you can not require her to be “friendly” to you. Only professional, and it sounds like she is being professional.

      3. Windchime

        In my experience, “bubbly” can often be code for “chatter-box”. This is just from my perspective as a quiet introvert who doesn’t like a whole lot of chit-chat at work. Is it possible that your chit-chat tolerance level is higher than that of the people who sit near you, and they are worried that making friendly overtures might encourage you to be overly chatty? It’s just a theory and I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be a chatty person, just that it might be a mismatch in the “chat tolerance” level of your co-workers.

        1. Zillah

          Yes, this. And, coupled with a couple other things the OP has said, I’m wondering if her coworkers may think that she’s nosy. I get that she was asking questions to try and build a friendly relationship with the people around her, but depending on the frequency, presentation, and content of the questions, she may have come off to them as prying or overly familiar. I might avoid becoming all that friendly with someone who came off that way to me.

        2. JB

          I have some coworkers I definitely avoid initiating conversations with because although they are nice enough, you practically have to chew your leg off to get out of a conversation with them.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          I wonder about that too. People can start thinking “if I give an inch, she’ll take a mile, so I’m not even going to give an inch.” It’s not the kindest way to respond, but it’s something that can happen if you’re not correctly calibrating your level of chattiness with other people’s. (OP, we of course don’t know if this is the case or not; maybe it’s not. Just throwing out possibilities here.)

          1. fposte

            Though the OP also describes herself as “quiet,” which to me is very different from “friendly bubbly”; maybe there was some early overcompensation?

        4. Jamie

          Yep, bubbly is up there with “big personality” for descriptions that come with big warning signs for me. That said my mom was bubbly and I have a friend who is bubbly…so it can be adorable…but it can also be code for loud and easily excited.

          Nothing wrong with that at all – but if someone like that works with people who tend to be on the less carbonated side of the temperament chart is can be a glaring contrast. Kind of like if I got a job at the Apple store and had to do the cheer every morning. They have a certain culture that works for them and I’d be a buzzkill and would probably have issues fitting in.

          Cultural fit is important. I remember reading an article about the Method company and how they interview and I was horrified. They asked “what kind of weird you are” and one guy got the job by grabbing someone’s guitar and getting everyone involved in an impromptu sing along and I’m just reading with my jaw on the ground wondering who would call it first if I had interviewed for a company like that without knowing. I showed a friend the article and she thought it sounded like an amazing place to work. I think that’s great – no one way of doing things and it takes all kinds of people to get stuff done – but shows the importance of fit. One person’s “awesome!” is anothers “holy sh*t, why are people singing, where AM I?”

          Love their soap and applaud their commitment to follow their own drummer, but I couldn’t see myself working for a company where this happened:

          “One person who interviewed for a job in our London office asked everyone to leave the building for 10 minutes. And they’re all standing in the street, like, “Is he robbing us?” When they came back, he had built an entire scavenger hunt for them around the values of Method. He’s now the general manager there.

          Culture can wrap around you like a warm blanket or smother your spirit.

      4. MJH

        You sound like my coworker, who is friendly and bubbly, but she has said things that were misconstrued by our team member and now said member (who I talk about above) seems to hate her and me by extension. I suspect your coworker has poisoned the row against you to some extent by making fun of you or by telling them something “offensive” that you said that was probably just a misunderstanding.

        This sucks. And there isn’t much you can do about it, unless you ask the coworker if you did something and apologize. But in the case of my team, that hasn’t really helped. There is a personality conflict, and drama, and grudge-holding. Your best bet is to try to find friends outside of your specific area.

      5. Anonsie

        Do you think it’s possible that the office culture there is just that people don’t want to be friends like that?

      6. Traveler

        OP, in addition to take the steps AAM mentioned, I would also be thinking over what you said during that first week you were there, when she was still warm towards you. Did you say something that could be a trigger somehow – something work related? habit related? religious? political? There are things you might have thought were innocuous, that really upset OP or someone else.

        Also on that note….
        Since it sounds like your allied with the manager here, is it possible that this group of coworkers does not like the manager? The manager’s language towards your problem person sounds harsh, and might be indicative of bad blood from before your time.

      7. AGirlCalledFriday

        I know I’m pretty late to the party, but this sort of sounds like the situation a relative often has. Basically, she’s very friendly and sweet, but to her more serious and cliquey coworkers, she probably seems a bit silly and odd.

        When I was traveling in college, my hotel roommate told me she didn’t like me “because I was too nice”. I couldn’t wrap my head around it at the time, but now I think that it can be off-putting for some if a person is too nice, too friendly, too bubbly, or asking too many questions they consider personal. I think that this is probably what’s going on with my relative, and perhaps what’s happening in your place of work. If so, this probably isn’t a reflection of you but of the work culture. You may have just come on way too strong. If this is the case you have 2 options – pull way back or look for a job with a culture that appreciates your friendliness. If you stay, then I’d honestly just act like nothing is wrong, smile and greet people warmly, then go about your business. If you interact with someone and it seems to turn friendly, make sure the conversation is very short and sweet. After doing this for a bit people might let down their guard and become more welcoming.

  8. Revanche

    Personally most of the time I avoid face to face because it “requires” a ton of small talk when I’m completely swamped with work, I just want to get the answer and get the stuff done. I’m fine waiting on the answer while I work on other things. But often, I want everything in writing because my memory is also not that awesome so if I need certain details, it’s way faster and easier to search my chat history the next time a question comes up. I’ve noticed the same with coworkers where, if we had a voice chat, we often lose details and waste time rehashing and trying to remember what the heck we agreed on.
    It’s usually got nothing to do with the person I need to talk to or if I like them. I prefer IMing with everyone even the ones I like and would socialize with if I’m in full bore work mode (most of the time).
    I wonder if this coworker’s decided to cold shoulder because it’s just a personal thing or she wants to push back on the personal chitchat. In the past, I’ve just kept to myself when someone has acted that way because I didn’t think it was worth the confrontation.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      I agree with you. There are some people I love to chat with. But then I hate the chit chat with certain people at work – it doesn’t mean I hate those people though. It’s just that I know they are going to ask something that they don’t really care about just because they think they need to soften me up for what they really want to ask. Case and point: Today I had a coworker ask me about how I winterized my hydrangeas for about 10 minutes before she got to the point and asked for me to enter something into the accounting system – which took 2 minutes. I don’t give a crap about my hydrangeas, and I know she doesn’t either. But we had to go through the whole charade of ice breaking conversation. Switch that conversation around – ask what you really want, and then chit chat – and I’d find it much less annoying.

      1. Revanche

        Absolutely what I meant. I used to have a totally unreasonable workload which one coworker knew but she always tried to make conversation for AGES and she wouldn’t ever have a point. And then she’d roll her chair over to me in meetings and try to whisper in my ear when she wanted to snark! I find that incredibly invasive from anyone, particularly in the workplace, not to mention unprofessional so I maintained a cool distance from then on. I later discovered she was all the while making up lies about me to our mutual boss, apparently trying to convince him to reprimand me blindly. It was almost cute how she thought she could manipulate both of us and that we wouldn’t talk to each other about it.

        Wait, not cute. But definitely the sort of personality that was bubbly to start but turned very toxic and quickly.

      2. Dmented Kitty

        Same with me. I really don’t care much for small talk during work especially if I know the other person wants something from me. I have a lot of people who IMs me with “Hello” (wait response to see if I’m available) / “How are you?” (wait response) / “I hope you are having a great Wednesday…” (wait response) and so on, before centering on what they actually want. The way I IM people is, “Hi [name], I’m looking for this, this and this, if you have the time, can you please send those to me? Thank you.” and just wait for them to respond back. If they don’t then that means they aren’t available and I’ll move on to other means of conversation.

        Once what I/they need is out of the way, then move on to small talk is fine.

        1. Ted Mosby

          But if you’re not replying to them saying hello, maybe they assume you’re not there, so they keep fishing for you to say something. That’s how I would read it. Just say “hey, what can I do for ya?” and maybe they’ll move it along.

  9. David

    I was a little put-off by the manager attributing this behavior to being pregnant as well, but on further reflection it occurred to me that the manager may have worked with this person for years, knows her fairly well, and noted that she did have a significant change in behavior that coincided with the pregnancy. Heck, maybe she even said to the manager once, “sorry for being so uptight, but this pregnancy is driving me nuts!”

    1. Traveler

      I think it might be the opposite – That manager and pregnant woman do not get along – the harsh comment about being “uptight” along with calling her “clique-y” leads me to believe there’s bad blood there.

  10. Jamie

    I would totally prefer IMing with someone even if they were sitting right next to me (and I think it’s considerate in an open plan office to do this when possible to minimize the amount of extraneous noise for your other co-workers) so I get that.

    And totally agree that no one owes anyone warm and personal. I can see doing this in a couple of scenarios:

    1. If the other person tended to be super chatty and ramble on where it takes 15 minutes of small talk to get a simple answer. Some is fine, but some people take any chance to talk as a chance to talk and that can be annoying when you have things to do. Communicating via typing can make it easier to streamline the business and not get hijacked.

    2. If someone had a tendency to over share or otherwise over step boundaries with personal questions, advice, etc. I have people I absolutely prefer to deal with via email because they aren’t going to email me about their sex life, ask rude questions of me, or tell me about their latest diet or life drama but they will sure go on about all of the above face to face.

    Those are about control. It can be harder to control a conversation in person and maintain boundaries without getting angry than in type. I’ve got it down now, but when I was new to the workforce redirecting the conversation back to appropriate topics and setting boundaries was a skill I had to learn.

    3. If someone offended me or I just didn’t like them for whatever reason – easier to work with them in type than have all the awkwardness of talking to someone you don’t like especially when they try to be friendly. If I was officially offended in a work related way I’d have had to deal with it. But if it was just something I find personally offensive but nothing objectionable in the workplace I wouldn’t say anything. Ditto not liking someone. As long as people can be polite and professional there is no reason to try to fix a relationship that is fine if it’s just business. It’s not family or friendship.

    And some of people do that. They want to discuss if you like them or not, why other people don’t like them, and try to convince you why you should like them. Few things are more awkward than having a conversation about feelings when you have zero emotional investment.

    I am not saying the OP is doing any of this – just tossing out legitimate reasons some people might find it easier to work with way with certain people. I would strongly advise the OP, however, to find a way to not care if she is warm to you or not. Because the talk with the manager about it (to the level of you wondering if it wasn’t a good partnership) is a red flag that you might be looking to get your social/emotional needs met at work by this woman and that can be really offputting.

    I have to wonder why one person not wanting to talk to you is so isolating. Are there others there with whom you are friendly and chat? Just seems like a lot of power to give one person in the office so wondering what your relationships are like with the others.

    1. OP

      It’s not just her it’s actually the entire area of my work place. None of them
      Talk to me. I’ve sat isolated in my cubicle for 8 hours a day for 6 months until I go on break or lunch. They’ve had pizza parties, celebrations, shared photos of babies, news, events etc and never ever asked me to join in.. Which I would decline if they did, but it’s just not the kind of workplace I’m used too. I over hear my co workers exchange very personal information all day. They really don’t know my personality because I’ve never been given a chance to display it, well only in small doses.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        This is … a very different thing than what was described in the letter! It’s so different that the original post doesn’t even really apply.

        What you’re talking about here is an entire team freezing you out and in a very obvious way, not just a single coworker who prefers to keep your conversations work-related.

        1. OP

          Yes, it seems as if I’m being frozen out in the area I am in. My other co workers don’t really have to interact with me work wise because we all work on separate accounts, and since they don’t really have to interact with me they really don’t.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            So this is going to come across indelicately, but I feel like it’ll serve us both better to just put it out there: What you’re describing now is totally different than what’s in the letter. And you also didn’t acknowledge that at all when I pointed it out above. Do you see that? That makes me think that there might be something about your communication style that’s leading people to be fairly short with you (and to use g-chat for a record of what’s discussed). Any chance it might be something like that? Have you ever had similar feedback to that before?

            1. OP

              Not with this company. I didn’t describe the full situation because i didn’t want to sound too long winded and it really did start with my primary co worker. We started doing g chat only conversations my second month so communication had been strictly training.

              1. Us, Too

                What does “not with this company” mean? Have you had issues like this in past jobs? If so, you must conclude that your own behavior and communication styles are likely contributors to this issue.

              2. Us, Too

                The person who is most involved with you day-to-day is the likeliest to be alienated first if you have an “off” communication style or are having some sort of workplace habit/behavior/culture fit issues. This is because she spends more time with you than other people do.

                The fact that it “started” with her could be a clue that there is something you are doing (or not doing) that has offended her and that this negative impression is spreading beyond her now.

                1. Gene

                  Or it could be that she has somehow offended the Queen Bee and the rest of the clique is mean girling her.

                2. Us, Too

                  Gene – possible but new information is that they are apparently avoiding ALL the new people. Which doesn’t sound like they are singling her out, particularly, so much as they just don’t include new people in their already-established social circle.

              3. Adonday Veeah

                I’m wondering if we’re somehow missing huge sections of information regarding what’s going on. Can you fill in for us, OP? You might get some different responses, ones more helpful to your actual situation.

            2. just passing through. . .

              Hence my “Did I do anything to offend you” suggestion. This is just too weird. I’ve never known anyone to start out friendly and then do a 180 for no reason.

              1. OP

                This is my second professional job. My first job I had a great relationship with my co workers, manager and supervisor and it was a bigger company(it was within retail banking). This is the first company I’ve worked for that this has happened. I admit, I am quiet and I don’t join in on conversations but that’s because I don’t feel like I’m invited in them. I don’t know why she would want to keep a record of the conversations except maybe I missed something on an account and she could show our supervisor. They are 3 more new people here, and my co workers don’t include them either. They really just talk amongst themselves.

                1. Kara Ayako

                  They’re just cliquey then. If there are three other people who are also being treated like this, they’re not singling you out. Sure, it’s annoying, but it’s not like they’re doing it because of something you did that offended them.

                  I would go and make friends with those three people and ignore the unfriendliness of the clique.

                2. Us, Too

                  To be candid and constructive: if you communicate like this at work, your communication style could be the issue.

                  This started off with you saying one person is short with you and requires g chat.
                  Then it was your whole workplace is ostracizing you and has been for months.
                  Then it was part of your workplace is ostracizing you and 3 more new people.

                  Each comment you make adds another piece of information that is relevant to your situation and can substantially change the answer or suggestions people give you. If you do this kind of “slow reveal” at work, your colleagues will very quickly demand that you write everything down before they help you.

                  It is also very off-putting, socially.

                  In any event, taking this at face value given the last piece of information, what you seem to be describing is a group of people who have worked together a long time, have existing relationships and don’t necessarily include new people in establishing new relationships. This isn’t uncommon and is pretty normal.

                  The “cure” for this is to put yourself out there and make more of an effort, IMO. Also, you have 3 new people who you can become work friends with. I’d exploit that. :)

                3. fposte

                  So four people aren’t in the clique; that can’t be that many fewer people than are actually in the clique anyway. So can you just start including the three new people as your work folks and let the other few fall where they may?

                4. KerryOwl

                  The other new people are “excluded” as well? It’s starting to sound like an issue of an established clique (as you say) not being overly friendly towards new employees. And because you are quite and reserved, they might see that as you being cold towards them, and uninterested in getting to know the people you work with.

                  Maybe you should make more of an effort to get lunch, or share a weekend story, or something. You say that you tried in the beginning, but maybe you didn’t try long enough. Maybe what you read as cues that they weren’t interested in a friendly relationship with you, were really just people being hesitant with meeting a new person. Maybe you should keep an open mind and give it another shot.

                5. jordanjay29

                  Maybe your personality is different than what your coworkers are expecting, leading them to view you as cold and withdrawn. Speaking as an introvert (not saying you are one, but quiet people tend to lean that way), I’ve found myself outcast from the clique plenty of times because I didn’t initiate or didn’t do so in the right way. There seems to be a secret handshake (metaphorically speaking) that I’m not aware of, and if I miss it, I’m locked out.

                  I hate that this happened to you, but some people behave this way. I feel it’s juvenile, but I think some folks are truly unaware of the elitism they project when they do this. They simply don’t know how to handle someone who doesn’t interact like them.

                6. Traveler

                  A lot of people are going to go out of their way to be friendly to you when you first start somewhere – invite you specifically into conversations, try to be extra warm, etc. when you’re the “new person”. After that, it’s on you to pick up and join in based on the social clues you learned first working there. If you’re being quiet, they may be reading that as “OP isn’t interested in joining in” or worst case scenario as you not liking them.

                7. Dmented Kitty

                  “Maybe your personality is different than what your coworkers are expecting, leading them to view you as cold and withdrawn.”

                  I can relate to what jordanjay29 says above — I work with a team who umbrellas different accounts that slightly integrate with each other. I manage one, most of them manage the other (they have the bigger account). They have been together longer than I am, so I could understand why they are more friendly with each other compared to me. But I’m more of an introvert, and I typically sit quiet in my cube and prefer IM conversations than yelling work questions across the cube, which they do frequently. I occasionally chime into their conversations if they go over my cube, and that works fine with them and me.

                  Several of them will go out for lunch together, or even walks around the trail behind the office — they invite me sometimes, and I sometimes join them, but oftentimes I don’t. Fortunately I don’t feel alienated, though. What counted for me was at least at some point they thought of me.

                  What gets me is when a group stops inviting you just because you more often than not decline invitations. “Oh, she’s just gonna say ‘no’ anyway, so might as well not invite her.” — yes, granted I’m an introvert and usually prefer keep to myself, but I really would appreciate that I know I’ve been remembered that I’m still part of the team and not being passed over — that way I don’t feel ostracized.

                  Fortunately I have thick enough skin so I’m not as affected being left out in most conversations, but my team has always been nice enough to make me feel inclusive in other things.

            3. Gene

              If OP’s communication style with the team has been like her style here, I can see why I would want everything to be on record. If you want an answer to A, but you ask about B…

              1. OP

                That was kind of rude but okay. I’m just all over the place I guess because I’m flustered with the situation. Just trying to give more detail that’s all.

                1. Gene

                  Not trying to be rude, I just favor a direct communication style. What I saw, and has become even more evident as the thread has evolved, was someone who doesn’t come right out and ask the question she wants answered. And even when given the chance, still doesn’t provide the relevant information for a complete answer.

                  I’ve been bitten by that in the past, “He didn’t give me the answer I needed.” when I couldn’t because I only had half the story. I never got on well with that person for the rest of the time she was here and I documented all all communications.

                2. Ted Mosby

                  Yikes. I agree that that was worded pretty harshly. Maybe they are confused by your communication style a bit? Or think you’re nice but super chatty and don’t have time to chat? Or maybe they’re very close and don’t even realize they’re being rude to new people? Or your shyness (you’ve described feeling weird about butting in) makes them think you’re not interested or a bit chilly.

                  The fact that she was nice at first then iced you out makes me think you must have offended her by mistake. Once a new coworker overheard me saying “ugh there’s so much black in here.” I was talking about the abundance of correction in on my slides, but apparently two black people had just walked by. My other coworker caught what was going on and cracked up. It was horrifying to see the look on my new coworker’s face.

              2. Adonday Veeah

                Gene’s wording may have been rude, but s/he has a valid point. As I read through this thread, it seems as though you’re dribbling in important bits of info here and there, and I can’t help but wonder if we have the whole picture yet.

                1. OP once

                  Can we cut the OP some slack? I was an OP once, and I agonized over what to include in my letter to AAM. Previous posters have complained that the letters were too wordy, some columnists have word limits, others want you to get to the point, and then of course, I didn’t want to reveal so much that I could easily be identified.

                  It could also be that the OP thought the issue was one thing, but now is realizing that it may be something else and is providing more information as it may seem relevant now when it wasn’t earlier.

                2. Adonday Veeah

                  The thing is, OP once, we’re all responding as best we can, and the target keeps moving. We’re confused, and looking for clarification. We’re also pointing out the possibility that the moving target thing may be a communication habit that, once addressed, could solve some of these issues in the future. I don’t see a lot of piling on here, just confusion and helpful feedback.

                3. fposte

                  Seconding OP Once. People are just trying to tell what’s going on, and sometimes it takes the telling to realize what matters and what doesn’t. I think that’s a huge part of therapy, for instance. That doesn’t mean we can’t be confused, but it’s not a moral failing to not explain yourself in one go.

                4. Sadsack

                  Op Once, it isn’t just that the original post did not include information that may be relevant, it is the way that the OP responds to follow-up questions. She continues to give only partial, unclear answers at times, which may be indicative of her communication style in general. If you read through the threads again, you’ll probably see what I/we mean. Not knocking OP here, just explaining what I have observed, which is likely what other commenters have also observed. I personally think OP should try to strike up conversations with others when it seems appropriate, especially the other newbies.

                5. Adonday Veeah

                  Might thave guessed, based on the spelling of your name, but wasn’t sure. Thanks for clarifying!

                6. Ted Mosby

                  Agree w OP Once. Allison says she takes shorter letters. It seems like maybe there’s a main issue/queen Bee.

            4. Belinda

              Maybe the OP was particularly bothered by this one person and wanted to solve that first. The others could still be saying good morning and goodbye but this one person was no verbal communication whatsoever. Or as the OP mentions the others don’t have to speak to her because they work on other areas so she’s not as bothered by it. After your comment I think others below have been even more nit picky and critical of the OP. :(

      2. HeyNonnyNonny

        That sounds terrible!

        I wouldn’t take it personally (yet)– 6 months isn’t a terribly long time to be on a team, and if the rest of the team is already close, they might not be intending to freeze you out. Not everyone thinks to invite the newbie, especially to something as casual as a conversation.

        As Ruthan asks, why would you decline??

      3. just passing through. . .

        And what does your boss say about this deliberate exclusion? He/she has to notice.

      4. fposte

        So this sounds like maybe it’s about your discomfort with your workplace as a whole rather than this specific co-worker.

        It can be rough to feel like the outsider, especially if it’s gone on for a while. You’ve said a couple things that I wanted to follow up on, though–when you say “They never asked me to join in,” do they ask one another to join in or do they just take part? When you say you “would decline if they did,” why is that?

        1. OP

          They ask one another like, “here do you want this pizza, cake” “here’s my new nieces photo” “let’s go out to eat”

          And I meant I would decline the food not celebrations or seeing photos of babies I’m prediabetic so I’m very limited to what I eat.

          1. fposte

            Does everybody get a personal invite by name on viewing the new photos? Or is it a “you guys, have you seen the baby?” as a cattle call?

            I mean, it sounds like a lot of weirdness is going on, but I’m wondering if you think they’re not interested because they don’t invite you and they think you’re not interested because you don’t even look at the baby.

            1. HeyNonnyNonny

              +1
              Sometimes, people just expect that you’ll come to them and the baby pictures, not the other way around.

              1. Not So NewReader

                THIS! And OP is saying she does not chime in. OP, I think you need to chime in somewhere. I am not a super big kid person, but I do like people. So, I usually indicate “oh, let me see, too!” It doesn’t have to be all the time, but randomly act interested in something they are talking about.

                It’s a two way street, OP. If you want them to include you, you have to take at least a passing interest in what they are talking about.

          2. HeyNonnyNonny

            Would it be worth it for you to reach out to someone else on the team? They might be excluding you because the first coworker said something about you, or maybe they just think you don’t like fun. Maybe you could bring in coffee for the group, or invite an individual out to lunch.

      5. Along for the ride

        No offense, but if the office isn’t talking to you, do you think it could be you? I have worked in offices where they all were run by one person; let’s call her “Mean Girl”. Although I am a reserved person, I am not weak and will stand up for myself. She would find a way to be ugly at every turn but I still found people to talk to in the office. Just because one person doesn’t like you doesn’t mean that goes for everyone. Find a common ground. Don’t talk about yourself first, listen more than you speak, and allow the other person to lead the conversation. And finally know when to stop talking. To much talking will seem needy.

        Even in the office with “Mean Girl”, I spoke to everyone every morning and every evening. I would pick up on small parts of their personality that would be a gateway to conversations.

    2. jag

      It seems to me the issue isn’t IM versus face-to-face. It’s that there is one person who doesn’t get face-to-face communication (OP) and everyone else does. If that one person’t job is somehow very different, or the joint work with the IMer is a unique in some way, then maybe an argument can be made that using IM with her makes sense.

      But without a rationale for why she is treated so differently, there’s a problem. The IM’re isn’t demonstrating a preference for IM in general, but just to the OP. That’s not right without some rationale or explanation.

        1. jag

          I think when one person is treated completely differently than everyone else, it’s beyond just saying
          “I’d prefer to not use IM.”

          I don’t know the root of the problem – it might even be the OP’s “fault” – but this thing about mode of communication is a symptom of something bigger.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Maybe. But that’s still the next step here. What else is she going to do about it? If she takes this to her manager, a sane manager will say, “Have you told her you’d prefer not to use IM so much?” If the answer is no, the OP will look silly.

      1. Colette

        Maybe she does use IM with other people, but she’s friendlier with the others so she also talks with them in person. Maybe she talks with others when she needs to take a break, but prefers IM when she’s trying to focus. Maybe she just doesn’t like talking with the OP, or maybe she’ll open up as time goes on. It really doesn’t matter, because the OP can’t change her coworker’s motivations – all she can do is ask if they can talk face to face when appropriate.

        And I’m not sure it is a problem – I mean, the OP feels like it’s a problem, but is it a problem for the business, if they’re able to work effectively this way? Is it something that the OP is going to quit over, or the coworker?

        1. fposte

          I have a hard time getting a read on this one just from the info here, to be honest. I could see situations where I’d tell the co-worker “You don’t have to chat to her, but you do have to include ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ in your messages and say good morning to her in your own voice.” I could also see situations where I’d have to explain how invasive somebody had been until the restrictions came down. I could see having to do both.

          But I think Joey had a good point when he asked what the OP was hoping for. And what I’d advise the OP to do at this point is make friends with the other three people and let the g-chat thing go.

      2. Observer

        But, from what the OP has said (although you have to dig in the thread to get it), it turns out it’s not quite like that – 3 other new people apparently are ALSO not getting “invited” to join the conversation.

  11. LS

    A couple of years back, I was the one who gave cold shoulder to a person who joined newly to our team. I was tasked with ramping her up. I never discuss my personal life with a new person (already burnt once due to this). But she was so enthusiastic to know about what was going on in my life. I was talking to her normally for the first couple of weeks. Then one day, I had to coach her with something. I had told her that morning that she can come to me any time during the day but it will take a couple of hours. So it shouldn’t be later than 3 or 3:30PM. She came to me at 4:45PM and I said it is too late and I will not be able to stay back at work till 7 or 8:00PM. She then sent out a mail to my manager that whatever was planned couldn’t be completed because I refused to help her. From that day, I had to be very formal with her. Any time with her had to be scheduled on my calender and any rescheduling should be recorded with proper reasons. I used to send minutes about whatever happened during our meetings CCed to our manager. I never wanted to do something with her without a record.

  12. MaryMary

    Putting aside the other odd office dynamics that have come up in this thread, I’m wondering if OP’s coworker prefers to have a written record of what she said to OP and what OP said in response. It sounds like these g chat conversations are mostly directions for OP and feedback. Whether deservedly or not (or maybe she does this to everyone), I feel like she wants documentation as to what she told OP and when.

    1. Hannah

      I came to say the same thing. Maybe the OP’s coworker wants to be able to keep track of their conversations. I’ve never refused to speak to someone who sits right next to me, that’s just kind of mean, but I have to admit that sometimes with particularly flighty people I have found it helpful to have an email chain or chat history. Some people will not follow up on what they say they will do or you have to tell them the same thing over and over, so sometimes it’s helpful to have the written evidence of those issues.

  13. Mister Pickle

    Grasping at straws here, but – it sounds like it’s more than just this one person who is giving you the cold shoulder? Is there possibly some history from before you took the job that is leading to this? Not that this is fair, but – were you hired to fill the spot of someone who got fired?

    Or – is your company under new management, and did you get hired by that new management? (long long ago, I got a job cooking at a bar that had just come under new mgmt, and a number of people quit, and some of those who stayed resented me. It took me weeks before I figured out what was going on).

    All I know about the repossession business is based on one documentary I saw long ago, but I gather that people in that biz can be a bit on the peculiar side. There are people who will simply decide on first impression whether or not they like you, and that’s where it stays.

    The only other thing I can think of is – how to put this? – a range of issues based unfairly on your looks / character / class / age / etc versus the other people in the office. For instance, if you’re young and the other people in the office are older, there may be some kind of exclusion happening on the basis of age? It’s not fair, but sometimes this kind of thing happens. Insofar as it seems like the basic question that OP has is “why am I being excluded?”, I’d ask: if you look around at the people you work with, are there any notable commonalities between them / differences from you?

    1. Adonday Veeah

      OK, Mr. P, what’s going on with the revolving avatars? I fell in love with the yellow dog with the smoochable nose, and poof! he was gone. You are just keeping me guessing with all these changes. Stop toying with me!

      1. Mister Pickle

        I fell in love with the yellow dog with the smoochable nose …

        That’s my pup, G, and I’ll be sure to tell him he’s got a fan!

        KerryOwl: I’ve never heard of this Rob Ryan fellow, but I googled him – what a handsome guy! :)

        1. Adonday Veeah

          MY BABY!!!!!! Welcome back, smoochie nose! MWAH! Gotta ruffle those ears, too. I bet they’re soooofffftttt!

  14. Clever Name

    Have only scanned the comments, including the updates and Alison’s responses, but I’ll make my comment anyway.

    I shared an office with a woman who was very nice and very friendly. Unfortunately (for both of us) she wanted to engage with me more often than I wanted to talk to her. I work part time, and I’m only in the office 4 hours a day, and much of my work requires me to concentrate and focus, so I’ve learned I have to be really diligent about my time management and work habits. All that said, most days, I just don’t have the time/mental space to chit chat as I work, or stop to have a conversation about kids.

    Sometimes a person just doesn’t want to share a lot of personal details about themselves (I worked with a guy who didn’t want anyone to know his birthday, and I work with another woman who doesn’t celebrate them), or sometimes a person doesn’t want to explain every single time something makes them giggle (I exchange amusing work-related emails with coworkers occasionally, and I really don’t want to explain the whole backstory behind a thread of emails to someone, because it really isn’t that funny but made me chuckle in the moment).

    While, it does sound like the situation is a bit different than described in the initial letter, sometimes a work relationship just isn’t what you (general you) want it to be. As long as you can work together, that’s okay.

    1. Natalie

      Total aside, but I hate it when I’m reading and someone asks me what’s so funny. They practically never laugh, and I just feel like an idiot explaining it.

      1. Clever Name

        Exactly. The funniest email exchange I’ve ever had centered around a supposed sighting of an endangered ferret but in a location ridiculously outside of its known habitat. Trying to explain the whole thing to someone who isn’t a specialist in my area would be incredibly not funny.

  15. Fabulously Anonymous

    Being squeezed out by cliquey groups has happened to me before. Once it was because my predecessor left after a short time. A co-worker actually said, “don’t take this the wrong way, I’m sure you’re great, but we all took the time to get to know Vanessa and then she left, so we don’t want to depend on you.” Another time it was because the company repeatedly dismissed employees within a few days of their start. My co-workers warmed up once they realized I wasn’t going to be fired. And another time, my very first job out of of college, I still haven’t figured out. But it was very similar to what the OP is describing: co-workers sharing photos, going out to lunch together, saying good moring to each other, all while deliberately excluding me. I left that company after less than a year and it dissolved a short time afterwards.

  16. OhNo

    My philosophy on things like this is to think long and hard about what the conversation would look like if this interpersonal issue were to be resolved by a manager. In your case, OP, assume for a moment that you went to your manager with the same story you told here, and they chose to address it with your coworker. What would that conversation look like?

    “Hello, coworker. Look, I know you’re getting all your work done, and so far you and OP have been really good about collaborating on things that need collaborating and making sure all the important things get done, but I’m going to need you to have some personal conversations with OP. Not work related discussions, just enough small talk to make OP feel included. Maybe mention your pets or your spouse once in a while, that sort of thing. Okay?”

    Does that conversation sound weird to you? Because it sounds weird to me. To me, that means this probably isn’t something that you can legitimately complain about as a work-related issue. As a cultural fit issue, sure. But if it doesn’t affect your work, and there’s nothing anyone can do, then you might just need to readjust your expectations for this job. Your coworker(s) just aren’t going to be friendly and include you on celebrations and things. Is that something you can live with?

    1. azvlr

      I’ve been trying to figure out where to put this comment and another poster said something similar to my thoughts: Morale has value.

      I don’t expect to be best friends with the people I work with, but the times in my life when I had good relationships with co-workers were the most productive. When something happened in one of our real lives, we shared that and supported each other. If you don’t get to know the people you work with, short-comings come across as slacking off. When you understand the motivations behind behaviors, the work relationship becomes a give-and-take.

      Whether or not the OP is accurately reporting the situation, here is an important take away for me: Make a point to deliberately include new folks into the fold. I, too have felt very isolated in jobs where the traditions were established, friendships or cliques were set in stone, and very little was done to make me feel welcome. This was after experiencing what I thought was normal (strong team, friendly workplace) and it was such a shock to learn that not every workplace operates this way.

      At my current company, we are expected to treat our co-workers like we would treat our customers. I think this is a simple, but powerful litmus test for office relationships.

  17. LuvzALaugh

    The IMing is to document every conversation with you. You may have A) said something off putting to her and didn’t realize it. B) She got back lash over the conversation you had with the managager and wants proof she is always cordial to you or possibly C) She just doesn’t like you and knows that eventually those documented conversations will be her evidence to throw you under the bus somehow. We all make mistakes at work, everyone, at some point. She is ging to use your’s to her advantage. I can see if she doesn’t like you personally and doesn’t have personal conversations with you, however, I see no other reason to insist on non verbal communication othr than evidence.

    1. Observer

      Or maybe she wants evidence to keep the OP from throwing HER under the bus. If she got blow back from the manager (who doesn’t sound like the smartest manager out there), she may feel that she needs to protect herself.

  18. Jessica

    You aren’t temping are you, OP? As far as the being left out by everybody in general, I feel like this is the way temps get treated a lot of the time.

  19. Kai

    I feel like this may be a more simplistic situation than has been speculated. Sure, maybe there are communication problems on the part of the OP, and maybe the coworker is being a jerk…but sometimes people just don’t really fit into a culture. I’ve worked with some groups for YEARS and never felt like I really belonged, and in other situations I feel right at home after a short time.

    OP says they didn’t have this issue at the previous workplace, so it may be that OP’s personal work style just isn’t really meshing (not to mention the issue of cliquey-ness).

    1. Us, Too

      I can see this being the case, too.

      My current job I have been at for 2.5 years. I have cordial relationships with my colleagues, but don’t really feel close to too many people even though I am DEFINITELY a “people person.” :)

      My previous job? i Those colleagues were my FAMILY. And it felt like that pretty quickly. We went to happy hours together, lunches, I visited them in the hospital when they had babies. Heck, I STILL see these people 2.5 years later! I invited them to my wedding even – and I have blood relatives who didn’t get a wedding invitation.

      1. Sans

        Yeah, it’s weird. Most jobs, I make very good friends that stay friends even after the job becomes an ex-job. This job, though … everyone is nice, but there just are no connections. I just don’t fit in, and I’m not sure why.

        It’s not the end of the world. There are other good things here, like way less stress and a decent commute. But it’s just curious, how each office atmosphere can be so different – and sometimes you can’t even pinpoint why.

  20. Buu

    Three other new hires have been mentioned, is there a lot of new hiring all of a sudden? I worked in a small office which suddenly expanded and whilst Old Staff were initially friendly and happy to share their knowledge they started to get back bitey and gossipy ( they would gossip about other new hires to me and do the same about me back to them). I think they had their nice settled jobs and had resigned themselves to the fact that this was it in life, then along come people a few years younger still wanting to progress in their career so they had no idea how to treat us. Once we started to be able to do our jobs without consulting them they felt threatened.

    Also I’ve had managers who didn’t want to correct me out loud ( open plan office) so will do it over gchat. Whilst I get the sentiment it felt a bit cold and impersonal and I dreaded the bing sound of a new message.

    Alison’s suggestion is good, also do you say ‘Morning’ and ‘Bye’ when you sit down each day? If she’s not into small talk then that’s fine but perhaps you can get her walking about work at least.

  21. Joey

    I’m a little confused about why you wrote in. Were you hoping for a solution that doesn’t require you to raise the issue with the coworker? Or did were you just looking for folks to sympathize?

    1. LBK

      Isn’t that 95% of why people write in here? The solution to almost every interpersonal problem on AAM is to have a conversation with the person about it, it doesn’t seem unique to the OP’s case that this solution hasn’t been previously attempted.

  22. anon in tejas

    I hope that you find this helpful OP.

    I used to want folks to like me. It was an active thing that was really important to me. I wanted to have casual chit cat with my co-workers and feel a little like friends. my office then hired someone I didn’t like. It’s not that we didn’t have anything to talk about, but it was conflict in our personalities and communication styles. We pretty much avoided each other, except for work communications and life was good. I let go the idea that I needed my coworkers to communicate to me like friends. And I decided to get that fulfillment from my actual friends– people I chose to see and enjoy the company of. It got a lot easier.

  23. Gwen

    I’ve always had a tendency to be shy & quiet in situations that I’m not comfortable in, OP, but I’ve made a real effort to be more open and friendly since someone who I’d known/considered myself semi-friends with for multiple years told me “Y’know, you’re really funny. I always thought you were stuck-up.” Is it possible that you’re coming off as cold/uninterested in conversations? It’s hard to put yourself out there, but sometimes putting yourself out there and proactively participating can go a long way. I’ll also say that these things can take time. I felt very distant from my team when I first started (it didn’t help that I was part time for my first year and didn’t really feel like I belonged anyway), but through a combination of turnover (you should definitely befriend other newbies!) and just time/getting to know people better, I have a lot of close relationships at work and feel pretty comfortable chitchatting with just about anybody in the office.

  24. Enjay

    There’s nothing normal about refusing to talk to someone who is sitting right next to you and IMing them instead. I don’t care how much I dislike a coworker or whether they have bad breath, if someone asks me a question to my face I’m going to answer it, not turn my back to them and start typing.

    Where’s management in this?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But there’s nothing in the letter that says the OP is talking out loud and the coworker is replying by IM. If that’s happening, it’s super weird and certainly problematic, but the OP doesn’t say that’s the case.

  25. HR Manager

    My Grumpy Cat side is going to come out, so fair warning. Some people don’t respond to a chit-chatty style. While it can be hurtful when you want to build a relationship but it’s not reciprocated, is this really a big issue? If it’s causing work-related problems, sure. But outside of that, trying to ‘resolve’ this is like asking ‘Can my manager tell Mary and friends they have to like me?” If it is a big deal, then you need to find out why they are not including you but also be prepared that the answer may be just because. If they are being offensive and are disrespectful to you, that is a different issue that should addressed.

    I’ve worked with co-workers who are good, decent people, but they don’t mesh with me. I find their styles grating. Yes, it’s not you…it’s ME. I’m an introvert by nature. I don’t like chit chat unless I know you well or have common interests to share. I don’t want to hear stories of your kids (unless they’re really funny). I had a co-worker whose stories would go on for 20 minutes at least, and she didn’t know how to stop. I have a co-worker who is ‘extreme’ in all her reactions. I have restrained responses; I don’t make a big deal of things. Everything elicits squeals of excitement from her. I mentioned I wanted to try a salad, and when I show up with a salad one day, she bounces up “OMG, you got the salad!!”, smile beaming from her as if I just gave birth. I know all of this is driven by her friendliness, but really? I.bought.a. salad. I am polite and I try to reciprocate sometimes, but I have to limit it because she will drive me batty.

    1. Jamie

      I’m sitting here laughing – the excitement thing. I was always happy my daughter never did that ear splitting shriek that they adopt about jr. high – she’s sunny…always happy but not a shrieker.

      Until my boss got her really great tickets to see Katy Perry and I made the mistake of telling her on the phone. Literally dropped it like it was hot – I swear she ruptured something in my ear that hasn’t fully healed. She got to a pitch I thought only dogs could hear.

      But I’ve worked with people who get that excited about salad. Or super bummed and concerned because you don’t want to order Mexican even though you’ve never once eaten Mexican food in all the years you’ve worked with them. And the first day it snows! Squeal of (joy?) mixed with alarm. You’d think the excitement of snow would have worn off for life long Chicagoans but no.

      Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be that emotionally engaged in stuff that doesn’t matter. It seems exhausting, they’re generally more relaxed than I am so what do i know?

      1. Zillah

        I don’t get that enthusiastic, but I know that when I am more peppy and excitable, it’s generally because there’s not something else sapping me of my energy. It’s not a coincidence that when my partner and I are having a rough patch or my health hasn’t been great or I’m stressed about money, I am a lot less bouncy than I am when everything is lovely and wonderful.

        Guess which of those I’m in now… bleh.

    2. nep

      +1
      Oh. Yes. This.
      I am not impolite if I do not respond in kind to the shriek-y, unduly-excited-about-everything folks. Think of me what you will — it doesn’t touch me. You, shrieker, are happy there, and good for you. We don’t have to go there.

    3. Jessica

      Different, but related: I have a coworker who always questions me about whatever I’m wearing, eating, have in my cubicle. She be like “Turtleneck??!!” or “Burrito??!!” like it’s the weirdest thing she’s ever come across in her life. I know she’s probably just trying to make conversation and I honestly don’t think she’s trying to be critical but it drives me crazy and I feel like I have justify even the most mundane personal choices to her.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        My boyfriend does this. He says it’s a way to make conversation. But, really, why do you feel the need to make conversation around the fact that I just put on a sweatshirt? (“Chilly?!?”)* I just ignore him. But we’ve been together for 12 years, so he apparently still hasn’t gotten the message that my mundane personal choices aren’t topics of conversation for me.

        *He literally said that to me 10 minutes ago.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          I used to say that or (with a playful tone), “Master of the Obvious strikes again!” but he got his feelings hurt because he said I was being snarky. Hence now my non-response.

  26. nep

    In my book this would not be a problem in the least unless it somehow had direct bearing on work performance, work outcomes.

  27. Joey

    I’ve had co workers do that and I’ve nipped it by only replying verbally “oh hey Jane, I’m actually in my office. The answer to your question is x.”

  28. Purr purr purr

    I don’t really see it as much of an issue but then I use IM instead of going to talk to my colleagues all the time. It’s much more preferable to have a ‘paper trail’ for the work and the IM message history acts as that paper trail. Maybe the colleague has that same preference for work: being able to check back on things that were said and keeping it ‘just in case’ something goes wrong so that she can cover her butt. As for personal chat, maybe the colleague doesn’t feel comfortable talking to the new person about that sort of stuff. I know that I don’t talk to my colleagues about what is going on in my life until I know them really well.

  29. Fun-&-Games

    The subsequent posts have muddied things somewhat, but my first impression was that there is some kind of dramatic dynamic playing out of which the OP hasn’t shared details.

    My very first vibe is that the OP is gay and the coworker is an adamant homophobe OR…
    OP is atheist and coworker is a zealous religious individual…
    OP is militant vegetarian and coworker only eats meat…
    OP is very young and coworker doesn’t view OP as a peer…

    and so on, just something intensely polarizing that the coworker keeps quiet about to not risk employment. Could also be a racism issue, but the first three examples I tossed out above could have gone unnoticed for a time before the coworker discovered as they are generally “hidden” or non-obvious attributes.

    Of course with all the followups taken into account, could be a simple case of “talks too much” VS “shut the *&%@ up”, or perhaps the old employees liked their previous co-workers better or even that the new hires are being paid too much and everyone is resentful that the pay scale for newbies is inflated.

    Bottom line though perhaps is you HAVE to work with other employees, but you can’t MAKE somebody be your friend.

  30. Illini02

    A LOT has come to light on this, so I don’t even know where to start with the OP. But really, it just sounds like a group of established co-workers already had their “thing”, and now there are a bunch of newbies, and the established folks don’t want to change what they were already doing. In my opinion, whether thats right or wrong is up for debate. I don’t have a problem with it since it seems the work can get done just fine. OP is taking it personally because one of the established people is her partner, but it doesn’t sound like a personal attack really. At my current company, there were a bunch of people who have been there 3-4 years (its a fairly new company). AThey are perfectly pleasnt, but since they have known each other awhile, they are logically closer. I was one of the first of a bunch of new hires this year. Us newbies basically have our own thing going now too where we hang out during lunch and joke around. Everyone gets along with each other fine, its just a somewhat logical division.

    It does surprise me though how many people think that you are required to talk about personal stuff with someone you don’t want to talk with at work. If I don’t like Joe, and I’m telling my friends about my vacation to Mexico, why is it rude for me not to talk with Joe? I mean, I could see if he came over and I just totally blocked him out and changed the subject, but if I just don’t include him in the conversation, isn’t that my right to decide who I share personal details with?

    1. LBK

      I agree with this comment most of all so far. I really think the OP is overreacting to people naturally being friends and sticking to their friends. I am currently obsessed with Serial so allow me to indulge in breaking down the evidence…

      1) OP states herself that she’s quiet and doesn’t naturally jump into conversations
      2) The group that’s “excluding” her are people who have already been working together for a while
      3) At least a percentage of these chats sound like they’re actually being initiated by the OP, because she says they’re questions she’s asking the coworker and the coworker is just responding
      4) OP says the coworker did respond to personal questions in person before, but didn’t engage in asking back

      To me, this doesn’t sound like cold, cliquey exclusion at all. For one thing, it’s totally natural for people with an existing relationship to be chattier and warmer to each other. I do this all the time – I go talk to my one coworker about Homeland (and now The Affair) every Monday morning, my other coworker and I always trade stories when one of our cats does something funny, another coworker is a fellow Starbucks junkie so we take each other’s orders, and so on.

      What’s key here is that these relationships developed over time. I am a very slow burn when it comes to friendship. I don’t respond well to small talk and I hate the “getting to know you” questionnaire style the OP describes (tell me about your family; do you have any pets; where are you from; etc.). I get to know people much better by just being around them, by picking up little pieces of info I hear or hopping into conversations about stuff I like. I also build friendly relationships based on who is an awesome, kickass coworker, because people with my same drive and focus on success are the people I relate to the most. So to a new person that tries a direct icebreaker approach, I probably come off very cold, especially in contrast to people I’ve known for years and whom I respect as a colleague.

      The Gchat thing seems like a total red herring, to be frank – the core of the issue is that you want personal interactions that aren’t occurring. It’s evident in the way you describe the situation. You say the problem is that you’re only speaking via Gchat, but when you contrast the conversations she has with you vs. others, it’s not you have work talk via Gchat and others have work talk in person. It’s you have work talk via Gchat and others have friendly chitchat in person. The medium isn’t actually the thing being compared here, it’s the subject of the conversation. And I think you’ve actually trained her to only speak to you via Gchat because that’s how you ask her questions and you don’t try to engage her in person anymore, so she sees this as the method of communication that works best for you.

      So, my recommendation is this if you want to break in and get friendlier with her: first off, stop having work conversations via Gchat. Always ask questions or respond to her feedback in person, even if it’s just “I got your message, makes sense, thanks for letting me know.” This gets you both in the habit of speaking face-to-face, which is critical because it’s rare that someone will have personal conversations with officemates online (unless it’s because they don’t want other people to overhear).

      Next, try to jump in to any conversations you overhear about something that intrigues you – it can be awkward at first, but I think that’s the best way to find out you and a coworker are both obsessed with trying every Mexican restaurant in the city or experimenting with gin cocktails or reading competitive Pokemon strategy. That’s something to build a more genuine connection over than knowing that someone has a sister and grew up in New Hampshire, because really, how often can you talk about that?

      Finally, make sure you are being an awesome coworker. It’s really hard to be work friends with someone who you dislike as a teammate – I’m unlikely to invite you out to lunch if I’m pissed at you because I have to redo all of your orders or you have a tendency to miss things with our client interactions and it makes me look bad. It also gives you something natural to connect and talk about, plus I think there’s a psychology aspect of being more willing to reach out to and include someone whom you already have positive feelings in some regard. The new person I love is probably going to get more of my (extremely limited, rapidly depleted) energy for small talk than the one I don’t.

        1. LBK

          Thanks – and thank you for getting me into Serial! I actually heard about it in the comments here first, and then it kept popping up on my Twitter feed so I caved in and downloaded it…and then proceeded to binge listen to all 6 episodes in a day. I’m now counting down the seconds until tomorrow’s episode. Fascinating.

      1. OP

        I don’t think she sees me as a peer. Our relationship seems very much “Team Lead” and “Team Help” when we are supposed to be equal partners. Before we turned the conversations to G-chat I used to ask a lot of questions and sometimes she would answer back exasperated so I turned to G-chat.
        I really just don’t mesh with the culture, and I am looking for a new job now. Thanks to everyone who helped.

        1. Tralala

          @LBK, your comment provided so much clarity, thank you! Ashamed to admit I don’t know what Serial is. I’ll be Googling it shortly..

          OP, my take on this, especially since she turned into a dictator midway thru training, is that you may not have responded well to training, weren’t picking things up fast enough, or kept pushing back/resisting/arguing. I can see that as a reason I would react the same way she did, especially the pushing back and arguing. Ditto for her being frustrated by your questions. And it sounds from this comment that you were the one to initiate the g-chats? She may just have given up on you, decided that was the best way to communicate for documentation reasons (especially if you don’t retain things or argued in training). I agree the ball is in your court to talk to her about it if you want any sort of change, because she seems fine with the status quo. Good luck to you!

          1. LBK

            Exactly what I was going to say. And that it makes sense that she would be treating you like she’s ranked higher than you – because she is! She’s the senior employee, she’s the one that’s been tasked with training you…she is being expected by her manager to tell you what to do (to an extent).

            I really don’t think this is a cultural fit thing, at least insofar as the culture of this specific company. It sounds like you came from retail, which is a hugely different environment. The learning curve is a lot less steep, mistakes aren’t treated as harshly and the physical closeness of your work with others lends itself to more personal relationships forming quickly. The pace of the work also makes a difference – when there’s no customers around, you’re kinda stuck standing there with your coworkers with nothing to do but chat. Corporate environments don’t function this way, and I think you’d be extremely hard-pressed to find one where you’re going to get the same culture as your old job.

        2. LBK

          To be totally honest, this is a really frustrating response, OP. It has nothing to do with anything I said in my comment. In all of your comments, you keep redirecting the issue – first it’s not speaking in person, then it’s a work clique, now it’s your relationship to this specific coworker.

          This is really harsh, but I don’t know how else to say it – I think you’re trying to make a social problem into a work one so you can feel more justified in complaining about it. Given that, I don’t think there’s really any way to help you. You can’t make someone be friends with you, and you certainly can’t make them be friends by never initiating or engaging in personal conversations with them. Quitting your job isn’t going to make people instantly be friends with you at your new workplace either.

          1. JustPickANameAlready

            Absolutely– did you catch in the OP’s last comment that it was the OP herself who “turned to G-chat” when the initial complaint was that the coworker insisted on only using G-chat? The story changes in some manner each and every time the OP posts. Based on that, I don’t see how anyone can assess what is actually going on with any certainty.

            This whole thing reeks of histrionics.

        3. HR Manager

          Interesting because you said she was an Account Manager (AM). Are you a Co-Account Manager, or are you someone who is supporting her to maintain the account? I read into your initial post that you supported her in helping her maintain the account.

          I don’t know your industry or business, but in companies where we have AMs , they are very possessive and protective of their accounts. I can see how this might play into the dynamics here. Having 2 Account Managers on a very large account can exist, but normally there is a clear division of scope for each. If it’s not a large account and there are two Account Managers assigned, this is weird and I can see territoriality coming into play.

        4. Sam

          OP, LBK just wrote you a French novel’s worth of really good perspective and insight. That was time, thought and effort invested in helping a stranger acclimate better into her workplace. You’re best served by taking a minute to read it and take it in. We’re all contributing here to help each other become better at whatever we do in the workplace, and if you don’t at least think about some of this stuff, it’s going to follow you to whatever job you take next, I’m certain of it. But if you want to be honest with yourself and think that maybe all these people, especially AAM and LBK, who have invested the time they could be spending listening to Serial on thinking about your problem might actually have some good ideas, you could improve your work experience, enjoy your day more, enjoy your work relationships more, prove those catty co-workers wrong if they’re wrong about you, and build some skills that will help you in this role and others.

      2. Jamie

        LBK you are awesome – can you follow me around and translate what I’m thinking into clearer and kinder language all the time?

        1. LBK

          Ha – I can try, although I’m not as good at doing it verbally when I can’t take half an hour to rewrite it 20 times!

      3. ItsJust me

        Well didn’t you have positive feelings in the beginning for OP! Two grown adults should be able to talk their problems out instead of playing the “THE BLAME GAME” It sounds to me that you really never loved her because you are talking about the new person you love rather then the one that truly loves you!!!

  31. Not So NewReader

    I am not sure about this, either. But I think that like many situations we have to look inside ourselves and think about how we appear to other people.

    When my husband first passed, my aunt said to me, “People will ask you to do stuff with them. Say YES. The reason is because they will only ask two or three times at most. If you say no each time they will stop asking.” The kicker here is when you are in the fog of grief you do not realize how many times you have said no. So it appears as if people have suddenly disappeared.

    What I liked about this is that this is just plain good life advice. People will reach out to us a couple of times. If we reject them, they will not try again. By the end of the second week, OP, they may have tried, IN THEIR OWN way, to include you and you missed the cues.

    What makes me lean toward this explanation is that you have said this is your second job, it’s very different from your last job, you are quiet, and you are waiting for them to invite you. This is a really bad combination.
    I blew it at one job I had because of a similar thing. The previous job was so toxic that I feared for my safety. When Good Job came along, I did not realize what I had in my hands. Nice coworkers invited me to lunch. Like a fool, I said no. Damn. That was a good paying job, nice people, the work was not hard, and I was foolish. I am sure they made other gestures too. And because of “life stuff” going on at that point, I did not pick up on the cues. I was too inward focused to notice people around me. The job was temporary and partially because I did not really endear myself to anyone there, I never got called back. That mistake never happened again.

    Yes, you can be the quiet one at work. Conversely, you can be the chatty one at work. We all have that right to be whatever. But each choice comes with a price. Cause and effect. There are good sides and bad sides to each choice.

    My first boss gave me a pearl of wisdom: NO employer will ever tell you this directly, but part of what you are getting compensated for is your willingness to get along with others. Some folks here have advocated pretty hard for both sides of this question, both stances have merit. I think the answer is what do you want out of your work that you do? I tend to be curious and have a short attention span. This means that almost everything interests me, even if it is brief. So I tend to have some interest in what people are talking about. Other folks just want to do their jobs and go home, which is fine, too.
    Decide what you want out of your job, OP. We can’t be quiet and still feel included. We can’t adapt to a different work dynamic if we don’t flex somewhat. We can’t reject people’s overtures of friendship and then wonder why they don’t acknowledge us. We don’t get to pick how people express their friendliness, either.

    NOW. That said. It could be that you just have a toxic, cliquey work place that is totally not for you or for any thinking human being. Change one thing you are doing and see where that puts you. Then change something else you are doing. See what happens. Set a time limit. If you do not find yourself fitting in better, then get out. Move on.

    1. Natalie

      Not even remotely at the same level as grief, but what you’re describing is exactly what was explained to me when I started dating again. I call it the Fade Rule (works for romantic or non-romantic contacts): if you reach out 2-3 times and get nothing concrete back (“sure, sometime”; “oh, I can’t tonight!” etc) then stop asking. For whatever reason, it ain’t happening. If that reason is other person’s lack of interest, you won’t hear from them again and you’ll forget they were ever there. If it’s life-shit getting in the way, they’ll get in touch and it won’t matter that they gave you a couple of soft declines.

  32. Cassie

    It would be kind of weird if the OP asks a question verbally and the coworker sends a response by IM, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. The OP (now) asks questions via IM and the coworker responds in kind (and vice versa). There doesn’t seem to be anything weird about that. If I send an email requesting something, I mostly expect to get an email back (though some people do call me instead).

    People stop by to talk to my cubicle neighbor all the time and I’m perfectly happy (thrilled even) that they ignore me and leave me alone.

    If I were in the OP’s shoes and I wanted to not feel so isolated, I’d reach out and try to connect with the new employees. Presumably they aren’t clique-ish (yet?).

  33. soitgoes

    People can be sort of fussy about who they choose to be their work friends. This isn’t the same thing as being a bully or a “mean girl.” Something I’ve noticed across the board is that people get to a point where they’re just not looking for more friends, no matter how nice or cool someone might be.

    At my current job, there are two other young women who are around my age. I made the usual friendship overtures, but we just didn’t end up clicking in any meaningful way. They don’t dislike me, but we’re never going to be close friends. It happens.

  34. Anna G

    I’ve had an experience like this–a cold unhelpful coworker/manager and a cliquey environment encouraged by her. I found out a couple years into the job that the coworker/manager was upset that I was hired by new management and (a bit unceremoniously) placed in her department, without any input from her. The other big factor in the environment was that all the cliquey employees had been working together for 10+ years.

    Ultimately? There were a lot of frustrating days. But eventually, except for the coworker/manager, the rest of them warmed up to me. More importantly I made some close friends with other new hires who stuck around as long as I did (about 4 years). My best defense for working there was to assume the most professional daily game face I could muster, to do reliably good work so people felt comfortable talking shop or asking me questions, and to go out of my way to start conversations with the least-chilly of the cliquey people. It was a decent lesson in how to work with a variety of personas: from ambivalent to hostile! But I breathed a great sigh of relief when I finally found a new job.

    While it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s causing the issues you mention in your situation, OP, I hope you can either work through the crap by approaching your cliquey coworkers and/or the 3 newbies, or find a better workplace fit someplace else.

  35. Chitowndiva87

    I too just came from a situation similar, bottom-line is they were not very open to outsiders(new people) since they had been there 5-15 years while most of us were recent hires up to about 2 years tenure. 99% female, gossipy, mean, childish, etc. I tried being friendly and just ended up remaining professional and if it was not about work I put my headphones on and tried to drown their antics out. So it was known if they saw you with headphones on someone in your area was being too loud. Made a few friends there but yeah being frozen out does sting especially as we all sit side by side in an open floor plan. Management knew what was going on and would never address it, I found this to be very odd indeed. Maybe they felt threatened that they were still there doing the exact same thing for up to 15 years while others had a lot of experience in various backgrounds. It was like you worked where????(insert eye-roll) I am just glad to be out of there, very toxic environment which they are apparently known for. Interviewing at other places hiring managers were so sympathetic that I lasted as long as I did, LOL.

  36. QK

    OP, for whatever it’s worth, my co-workers and I frequently talk over chat instead of face to face, even though we all sit around the same big huge desk area. We work in a very open floor plan, so it helps cut down on noise that way.

    Still, I understand you feel you’re being treated differently, and that’s a whole other issue. I just wanted to share that as far as the gchat thing itself, there are fields where that is quite common (I work in tech).

  37. Jo

    When I hired into the place I’ve been at for 5 yrs now, my boss was so mean to me for absolutely no reason that I could discern. He went out of his way to exclude me & treated me like I was stupid as well as generally untrustworthy. It turned out he was completely against my position being filled in the first place & didn’t have final say on my hiring. I knew none of the backstory so I floundered terribly. Many days I cried on my way home from work, puzzled by my status as pariah among virtual strangers. I don’t have to be liked at work, in fact I believe firmly in having warm friendly yet mostly impersonal work relationships; but being set up to fail, intentionally given wrong/incomplete info, etc was tough. Seeing my boss have warm convos with my equals at the other office (where he worked for many years before being involuntarily transferred to my office, 80 miles from his home) was really upsetting. I stood my ground & did my best to make myself fit in. Luckily for me, he was unable to poison the well. I’m sure upper mgmt. knew the scoop. We now get on fine. But we are not friends, never will be.

    It turns out I have very little in common with him, esp. compared to the others at the other office. So I made peace with that fact, and have always tried to do my best for him. It also turned out that he has a bit of a scam going on here & my hiring was a big potential problem. (‘scam’-He leaves very early most days, see prev. comment on his forced transfer. Which he deserved btw, he’s lucky he kept his job at all though I am sympathetic to his current plight). But I’ve always done my best for him and have never taken the many opportunities to snitch on him. In fact a member of his opposition tried to get me to snitch last year & I flat out refused. I said upper mgmt. knows what’s going on, if they have any questions, they’ll come to me. I hate these backstabbers more than the cranky boss!

    My advice to OP is to concentrate on doing a good job. Lose your password to the gchat or face this queen B and tell her you need communication face to face for whatever valid reason you can dream up. Her reaction is more important than whatever reason you come up with as to why you need to have things face to face. I predict it will be a bad reaction. You can then go back to your boss and push this a bit more forcefully. Don’t be afraid to piss her off, it’s too late for that and besides she is actively against you.

    I bet she didn’t want you or anyone hired for this position or there is something from before you hired in that has caused her crappy behavior. Still sucks for you. One positive is that your boss knows the dynamics& seems to like you & your work quality.

    Not to get too wordy but a friend also had a similar situation, she entered a small office of women & they ganged up on her en force. A couple of them had REAL scams going, and she was a threat to them. She was hired by younger 2nd generation of a family business, the mean girls were from the old guard, who they ran to constantly to destroy her. She is a more sensitive person & ended up quitting the job. I wish she had been able to stick it out because those gals severely needed a push off their high horses.

  38. Anu G

    This post of many interesting posts on this great website turned my attention for many reasons.

    First I identify myself with the account manager’s personality :-). And, I get along with people yet have very strong boundaries because of the past experience dealing with professional relationships in a friendly way which hurt me real real bad.

    I beleive i choose my personal and professional “friendships” and draw clear boundaries with people who ask personal questions like family, dogs, thats a big red flag for a confirmed “introvert” in me. There is a huge possibility this account manager is an introvert who interacts with people with whom she has established trust over time, so her partying and laughing aloud with them has got no association to the introvert definition. Something to notice here is trust over time.

    Secondly, I always prefer to email rather than a direct talk or even by phone, unless it is a 1-1 professional conversation towards a purpose. In an email, I can explain and get to details without the hassle of a small talk (again an introvert). Also there are people who twist spoken words in an unethical yet unassuming way (once bitten twice shy!). Email /Chat is a proof of professional communication. Again, I go back to trust issues for this line of communication.

    The account manager using chat to communicate official work is not illegal. BTW, emails and internal chats at work are legal communication.

    Oh BTW, i personally have never had issues related to promotion or keeping a job because of “anti social” like personality which someone might perceive as.

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