Loner At Work Has Us Concerned!

Question:

I work in a small company that has 20 or so staff between the office and workshop. Two years ago the manager hired a person to work in the storage area, the only person in this area. Right from day one he eats and reads by himself at coffee breaks and lunch. He has never been a member of our social club and does not attend company parties, even at Christmas etc. We know absolutely nothing about him. He starts at 7 a.m. and right at 3:45 p.m. he is gone. He never talks to us except for work related issues, and even then it is very terse and right to the point. He runs his department efficiently and the owner doesn’t have a problem with his work . We asked the owner how he felt about this lack of socialization and he told us the next day that he had spoken to this person and said, “He doesn’t care about you people, he doesn’t want to know you and that he has no desire to be friendly or social.” He also added that as long as is doing his job to leave him alone. The owner of the business is happy with him and his work and doesn’t understand why we are so worked up.

What do you think?

Signed,

Working With An Isolate


Answer:

Dear Working With An Isolate:

Some folks are loners, and others are sociable outside of work, but believe sharing personal information in the work setting betrays their privacy. If this individual does his job to the satisfaction of your superior, that should be enough for you and your co-workers. Treat this individual cordially, but don’t probe. Talk business when necessary and be your own cheerful self. You might even reflect on what measure of self-disclosure is appropriate in the work setting. You ask why does this bother you? Probably it bothers you because you do not feel secure unless you know the whole person. Reducing uncertainty for you and many of us entails learning about what’s going on in others lives. You are not one who can compartmentalize–separating work and personal life. It also may be that you are a curious person and like Goldilocks you can not resist trespassing into another’s dwelling. So will you let be what will be?

Might you and your co-workers better focus on what you might do to improve the quality of your operations: cutting wasted cost, supplies, time, effort? Work on that and let us know if that doesn’t lead to appreciation of one another’s special performance in accomplishing that goal.

Dan West