I have been on a new job for a few months. The other assistant has been there for quite a few years. She is also the office manager and very close with the boss. One day her and I and another person were being trained. After the training she said we are going out to eat and you aren’t coming. I felt so left out and dejected! I am always nice to her, and say good morning. I have many friends outside the job. I was told her relationship with the former assistant was the same as it is with me. I am a friendly person who likes to get along with others. She doesn’t speak to many people unless you speak to her. However she is quite nice when you get her to talk. She has other big responsibilities and comes and goes without acknowledging you. She only acknowledges her two other friends and the boss. What should I do??
Feeling Left Out
Dear Feeling Left Out:
Your co-worker probably doesn’t realize how you feel and is simply involved in her own life and work. That is a shame for her, because she misses out on the work friendships that can help time pass much more pleasantly. But, she may have her work relationships developed just the way she wants them, and doesn’t want to change.You might find it beneficial to talk to her about your relationship at work. You could start by saying, “Sandy, I’ve been concerned lately-is there something wrong between us? I’ve felt that maybe there is a slight distance building up between us, and I sure don’t want that to happen. Is everything OK?”That might be enough to make her realize how she is perceived. Or, she might give you an explanation. Or she might only deny there is a problem, but not change anything. At least you would have expressed your thoughts.You say she is an assistant, like you, but you note that she is the office manager and has many other tasks. And, you say she is close to the boss. She may think of herself as in a slightly different work position than yours, and may think she should maintain a little distance, instead of seeming to be too friendly.You mention that she has been there for a considerable length of time. It may be that she has friendships that are long established and doesn’t feel that your tenure places you in the inner circle yet!The issue about the other other person being trained, and the two of them going to lunch, may have involved something completely different than friendship. She may have needed private time to discuss training concerns, or something else. However, that would have been the perfect time to later ask your co-worker if there was some reason you were excluded that you should know about.The final thing to remember is that your co-worker may like you OK, but simply not feel a connection that encourages more than courtesy and civility at work. There is only so much time available for lunch, coffee and friendly conversation. She may feel that she only has enough time for a close relationship with two or three people, and she’s picked those three already. If she is rather introverted by nature, she may also not feel comfortable with many people and prefers to keep her friendship list very short.Overall, it doesn’t appear that anything has happened that would indicate hostility on her part, or a failure to be helpful or supportive to you. You may find she will always be somewhat remote. That is far better than many workplace situations, as I’m sure you know!Your best approach now may be to focus on your work and ensure that you are doing a very good job–it sounds like you do that Be courteous and helpful with all your co-workers, without being overly familiar with any of them. Be available for friendship and friendly interactions. If she wants to be closer to you, she’ll do something about it. If not, you may need to be content with the limited, but positive interactions you now have.Best wishes as you evaluate your workplace and the people in it. You sound like someone who could help make work much more positive. Eventually your co-worker may see that. If not, at least you will know you always offered friendship to everyone, including her.
Tina Lewis Rowe