JAN 11, 2023 AT 03:11 PM
There is nothing more unpleasant at your place of employment than discord with a co-worker. Whether she is your boss, a contemporary, or a subordinate, you are forced to be in the same space for seven or eight hours a day.
Many people have resigned from their jobs rather than face this kind of situation. Countless others spend each working day feeling miserable or confused. If your co-worker is suddenly avoiding you, whereas before you were at least amenable and at the most friends, there is definitely something wrong.
Let us look at this problem from two different aspects.
You are a man
If you are a man and your female co-worker is suddenly avoiding you, this can be fairly straightforward. Did you say or do anything that she could have interpreted as suggestive? Even a seemingly harmless remark or question may be considered by some as sexual or gender harassment.
Because many women have histories of this in the workplace, it is not surprising that they are particularly sensitive to it.
If this is definitely not the case, did you undermine or reprimand her in front of another co-worker? It is useful to remember that women, in general, are more emotional. Just because a man does not understand this, he should not consider it a weakness under normal circumstances. An unreasonable show of ego is going to produce a negative reaction from a female colleague.
Yes, the 'h-word, whether you, as a man, believe it or not, hormones play a major role in a woman's emotions. These hormones play an integral part in the fact that your wife or your female co-worker can have children. Women have been told for centuries that emotions have no place in business, so most try and suppress hormonal days.
- Another Upset
It is also possible that the fact she is avoiding you has nothing to do with you. Maybe another co-worker, a spouse, friend, or family member upset her and she is just not in the frame of mind to be sharing the details or, wants to take her bad mood out on you.
Whether it is hormones or another upset, her avoiding you should be temporary, and she will approach you when she is feeling better.
You are another woman
- Subversion (again)
If you are her boss and have reprimanded her she may just feel a bit heartsore about it. Women in the workplace frequently form friendships or at least develop an admiration (or dislike) based on their feelings towards a female boss. If a woman can relate to her superior on a feminine level rather than a business level, it bodes well for a good working relationship.
- Hormones (again)
Most women understand another woman's hormonal fluctuations. In fact, co-workers may even share the fact they are feeling a bit off-color with their female counterparts. If this may be the reason why she is avoiding you, it is simply because she cannot handle any other emotional issues when she feels sensitive.
Unless you have to communicate with her over a work-related matter, it is best to leave her be. She will deal with it in her own way and probably give you a smile or stop for a little chat when she feels better.
Unfortunately, gossip frequently happens in the workplace as well as in our private lives. Your co-worker may have heard that you have been gossiping or said something to another co-worker about her.
Many women dislike conflict and instead of coming out and confronting a co-worker about a perceived transgression, they will simply avoid that person as much as possible and withdraw if forced into their company.
The green-eyed monster. Unfortunately, jealousy is not exclusive to teenage girls vying for the attention of a boy, or because another girl has nicer clothes, is more popular, has a gorgeous body, or any other reason. A very successful woman enlists both admiration and jealousy from other women.
If your co-worker thinks that you are jealous of her, she will definitely try and avoid you especially if she doesn't want to deal with that at work. If she is jealous of you, possibly because you received the promotion she was sure she was going to get, she may also ignore or avoid you.
- Inferiority Complex
Along with jealousy may come the feeling of 'not being good enough' in your co-worker. If you have recently won an award or achievement at work, and suddenly she starts avoiding you, it may be because every time she sees you, it reminds her that she feels inferior to you. No one wants to have the object (in this case you) of their inferiority complex in their face all the time.
- Out of Work Woes
The saying mixing business and pleasure is not a good idea stems from just this kind of scenario. Many people have very different work and private lives. If you have recently been at a retreat, function, or night out where you have relaxed, let your hair down, maybe drunk, or flirted too much, your co-worker may have doubts about spending time with you and would rather keep their distance.
On the other side of the coin, they may be feeling embarrassed if they became a bit out of hand. This is not to say that successful friendships or even romances may originally start in the workplace, but only really happens if the person at work is very different in a social setting.
What do you do?
As mentioned earlier, if you absolutely cannot think of a single reason why your co-worker is avoiding you, it may just be that she is having an off day, whether because of hormones or an upset.
Plan A, is probably to leave her alone or if you can see she is upset about something, you may ask why, but don't pry or push her for an answer. If however, the situation doesn't resolve within a couple of days, you should put plan B into action.
There is no harm in waiting for a time when she is not too busy or distracted, say at tea or lunch time and invite her to share a table or go with you to a quiet place where you can talk privately. Tell her that you have noticed that she has been avoiding you and ask why.
It might be the opening she needs to discuss the problem, whether it has to do with you or not. Even if it is a private matter that she does not want to talk about, she will appreciate that you noticed that she was not herself.
Women, whether in or out of the workplace are still women. Throughout history, they have been taught that to be successful they need to leave emotions at home. Because of hormones and very real feelings, it is not always possible to keep them from showing on a day when she feels off color or after an upset.
If you are the boss and your female co-worker is avoiding you, it may be because you have said or done something she perceives as inappropriate, undermined her, or reprimanded her in front of colleagues.
Gossip and jealousy may rear their ugly heads in the workplace, and this usually causes hard feelings between co-workers. Some women feel inferior when confronted by a successful colleague and this may cause some conflict, especially within themselves.
Mixing business with pleasure does on occasion cause trouble within the workplace, and should be handled with care.
If the situation has not been resolved in a few days, it is best to gently confront her in a private place when she is relaxed. She may welcome the opportunity to tell you what is on her mind whether it is something you have done or said or another difficult situation at work. It may not have anything to do with you at all.
The important thing is to accept and validate that her feelings matter, and then do what you can to remedy the situation. If you are not the cause, make her aware that you are there to support her if she needs it. If she refuses to talk to you about it, you may rest assured that you have done your part and it's up to her to make it right.