DEC 16, 2022 AT 02:36 AM
It has happened to all of us – you have been chatting with one of your male coworkers and suddenly, without warning, he is gone cold and will not even look you in the eye. It can be baffling and even hurtful, especially if you thought you had a good rapport. So what can be behind his sudden avoidance?
In this article, we will decode the cues to figure out what may be wrong, and how to address it in an effective way. Read on to learn more about why your male coworker may be avoiding you, and how to approach the situation.
As you read through, keep in mind the basics of body language. Humans communicate primarily through non-verbal cues inasmuch as they communicate verbally, and these messages are often more revealing than the words we speak. Keep these non-verbal cues in mind, and pay special attention to your coworker's posture, eye contact, and facial expressions.
Potential Reasons behind the Sudden Avoidance
When it comes to deciphering the reasons behind your male coworker's sudden avoidance, you will need to look at the situation from his perspective. What has happened in the past few days or weeks that would affect your coworker's behavior toward you?
Is he stressed out by a work project? Perhaps he has just come back from vacation, and it has taken him a few days to adjust and get back into the flow. Depending on the situation, your coworker's avoidance could stem from a variety of reasons. Let us look at five potential reasons behind it, and how to avoid blowing the situation out of proportion.
Work overload: Perhaps there is a major project your coworker is busy with, or he is understaffed and overwhelmed. This can definitely lead to frustration and have a negative impact on your coworker's mood. When you see your coworker avoiding you, try to bring the subject up in a tactful manner, so you don't come across as prying.
Relationship issues: Maybe your coworker just broke up with his significant other and he is feeling upset. If you feel it is appropriate, you may want to try to offer him a friendly shoulder to lean on or help him get through the rough patch.
Personal problems: Perhaps your coworker is dealing with a challenging family issue, or has some financial troubles. Whatever the issue, try to be supportive, and do not pry too much unless he voluntarily brings it up.
Uncomfortable topic: Perhaps there was a sensitive topic of conversation you and your coworker were discussing, and he did not want to continue it with you. If you start seeing your coworker avoid you, try to gently confront the situation and find out what was going on.
Personal space: Do you sometimes start invading your coworker's personal space? Perhaps you are always leaning in while having a conversation, or you stand too close to him when you are both at your desks. Your coworker may be avoiding you due to discomfort with your proximity, or due to a general dislike for the invasion of personal space.
He does not feel comfortable: It could be that he is not confident in his skills in his job especially if he has gone through a tough time at work, or he feels he is not needed or does not know his role in the group. Can you imagine if his boss quarreled with him in front of you? Or he demoted him?
He just does not want to talk to you: We are all humans, and we have our “bad side”. What if he cannot deal with you or your baggage? Maybe you talk too much, and he does not like it. You may want to find out if you are the problem, and how you can correct it. If he is not willing to talk about it, then do not push him.
Office Policy: It could be that he heard, or knows something about you or what you did/do and he is not willing to be part of it. We all know how office politics is toxic, and sometimes you may not be able to sanctify yourself from words said in the office, right? Yeah. If that is the issue, then you can just let him be.
How to address the situation
When you notice that one of your male coworkers seems to be avoiding you, the best approach is to try to understand why. If you can get to the root of any personal or cultural reasons for his avoidance, you can address the situation in a helpful way.
The best thing to do is to approach him in a kind, respectful, and understanding way. Remember, his avoidance may not have anything to do with you – it is about his feelings. So you want to approach him with a kind, understanding approach.
Be respectful and kind, and try to understand the reason why. It may be that he is just not comfortable talking to you, and if that is the case, you can approach him in a way that makes him more comfortable or just let him be. It is not a necessity to be friends with someone if they do not want to.
Show understanding and empathy by asking him if anything is wrong. Let him know that you are there as a friend if he needs to talk about what he is going through. Remember, sometimes we go through things that we cannot explain to anyone else. Be empathetic and let him know, if he needs anything, you are there for him.
Do not take it personally and remind yourself that your coworker's avoidance has nothing to do with you. It is not personal and it could be the only way he deals with his own emotions. It is scientific that women are emotional beings and so, it is easy to beat yourself down, but understand that people have different ways of handling issues.
How to Confidently Confront Your Coworker
If you have ruled out all of the potential reasons above, and you are certain that something is wrong, it is time to confront him, but in a kind and respectful way. Be prepared for a variety of reactions, including denying any issue exists. Keep the following in mind to ensure the situation is dealt with in a professional manner:
Choose the appropriate time and place to confront your coworker: Ideally, this should be done in person, but if you do not feel comfortable talking to him in person, you can send him an email or a text as well.
Calmly confront your coworker: Do not let anger or frustration creep into your words or body language. Stay relaxed and in control of your emotions.
Let your coworker know you have noticed the situation, and you are concerned: Let him know the reasons behind your allegations, and when you noticed the change.
Ask him what is going on: Give him the chance to explain the situation, and let him know that you are open to resolving the issue and you are okay with whatever choice he has made.
If your coworker brings up a personal issue he is dealing with, offer your support. Understand him and try your best to help him. Remember, people go through a lot, so be nice. If it is something personal that he cannot tell you, it is okay to let him be, but be supportive and empathic.
If your coworker avoids talking about the issue, do not push. Let him know you are available if he wants to talk.
If you have tried your best to talk to your colleague and nothing seems to work, you can consider moving on. Just keep it professional and respect his boundaries. In this situation, you are the only one who can decide if the situation is worth sticking with, or if it's time to move on. Do not pressure yourself because you cannot please everyone.