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TL;DR; I want to unfriend coworker for her overly attached behavior, but she is also a QA of some of the projects that I develop.

I was dragged into a group of 4 girls at work without me trying to achieve that. We started going for lunch together and even hang out after work from time to time. At the beginning everything was great, but after we became closer, two of them started to act really obsessive, bossy and dramatic.

If I refuse to go for lunch with them or hang out after work, they get angry and start dramatic fights on skype, asking for reasons why i won't go eat with them. I have to explain myself all the time. Sometimes i just want to eat alone, reading my book or hang out with other coworkers (as i used to do). They does not understand this and does not accept it as excuse.

For example this is what happened in the last 10 days:

Monday - They arranged party at home. I said i can't go because my sister came in town. They got mad and I lost one work hour to chat, explain myself and trying to please them.

Tuesday - We got into a really big fight, because i wanted to eat with other friends. We lost about 2 hours at work to chat.

Thursday - They were throwing a birthday party on saturday and i turned down the invitation, because i was invited to a wedding months ago. I told them right away, not in the last moment, but still they acted like i did something bad (cold looks and silence for days).

Monday again - They arranged another home party for Thursday. I didn't want to go since this was my only free night of the week. I wanted to just stay home. It wasn't a valid reason and after i turned them down 2 times in a row i had to accept.

This was too much for me. I can't concentrate on work and i have pressure even after work.

I can't ignore them in chat, because they are coming to my desk to talk directly.

I tried to explain to them that we are grown ups and have to understand each other for everyone has personal life. Also that i'm not very social person and i need my time alone from time to time. They genuinely don't get that.

THE MAIN PROBLEM: I work directly with one of this drama queens. She tests one of the interfaces i develop and we have official communication where other people are also involved. In the past, she already made some sassy comments about my tasks, but nothing too problematic. I don't want things to go out of hand if i directly unfriend her. Also the other two girls are pretty cool, funny and valuable for me. I don't want to lose connection with them. They agree with me the other are too dramatic and don't like it either, but somehow they manage and don't see it as such big problem as me.

We have HR but i don't think this is case for them. From my eyes, these are "kindergarten problems".

I want to silently leave the group, but i don't know how.

  • 1
    What country / culture are you in? It sounds like you did something else and they only lash out when you don't hang out with them, but I could be way off – rath Oct 19 '18 at 9:15
  • 2
    @rath Looking at OP profile, Bulgaria – Twyxz Oct 19 '18 at 10:11
  • Just send them a link to this thread. Your username seems like your name and your profile picture like your real pic, so even if they aren't the brightest, they should get the message. – BigMadAndy Oct 19 '18 at 12:43
  • @385703 I like the way you think! – Nyagolova Oct 19 '18 at 12:59
  • Is only one of these women causing drama? How are the others putting up with her antics? Also, does she not have a reputation for shenanigans inside the company? Surely others have become aware of her attitude ... – AndreiROM Oct 19 '18 at 13:51
1

I feel like the easiest answer here is the one that addresses the real source of the problem.

Yes it's true the original source of the problem is their ignorance and selfishness. However it's being fueled by your politeness and overly kind reactions. Sometimes to fix a problem you have to do the opposite of "pleasing" someone. Don't offer any excuses. I will give an example to illustrate:

  • QA colleague: We're going to ABC for lunch today, are you ok with that?
  • You: Sorry I have other plans, maybe next time.
  • QA colleague: !!??! [insert crazy response here]
  • (THIS IS THE HARD PART, you're reaction is important, don't answer any of the questions/accusations/anything, keep it short as per below)
  • You: Sorry about that [QA's name].
  • QA colleague: !???!!!!!!
  • (Wait 5-10 minutes before offering another apology)

The above addresses online chat only. However physical chatting will be similar. When she comes to your desk, apologise and focus on the monitor. [As you described] she will probably continue the crazy/angry talking. Interrupt the crazy talking with "Let's talk about this at another time, I have to go back to work now." The important thing here is to make all your chatting/talking with zero emotion, no anger, no sadness, nothing. Just very calmly and quietly (but assertively).

I know what it's like to be too nice and have trouble being assertive with crazy people. Let me offer some motivation for you to do it. You are improving the other person's craziness/irrationality, they will become a better person because of you, a better colleague/daughter/wife/etc. Basically you are doing them a favor.

  • Hi, @goamn, I really liked your answer! But what to do when they want to join me when I go out with other coworkers? I tried to explain that they can't, because I have to give them my attention then and that stops me from chatting with the others, but they don't understand and say stuff like "We are not wanted/I thought we are friends" and other extreme conclusions. – Nyagolova Oct 24 '18 at 11:31
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    Hi @Nyagolova, that's a tough one, are they coworkers of the same company? If it's friends or coworkers from another company it would be easy to respond. But from the same company is a bit tougher, I would just let them join but not make any effort to sit next to them or talk to them (it might happen, or it might not happen), hopefully they notice and get bored and stop showing up for the sole reason of you being there. – goamn Oct 25 '18 at 4:03
11

Occasionally, I have the same need to become a "ghost", staying alone and relaxing in my home without communicating with anyone. Some people don't get it. It is about "emotional vampires", consuming your energy with every time you get in touch with them, with or without their will. Several times I have given the very same fights of giving explanations about this "weird" and unexplained for them behavior of mine.

In your case, I would advise you to try to move away from them gradually. Sooner or later they will get in their head that you wont be always available, for your own reasons. If they keep up asking about explanations, explain them kindly that you have to relax alone in order to be more productive or anything else you can figure out that may trigger their sense of logic. Again, gradually, stop giving them explanations about your denial. "I can't join you today, I am gonna stay at home, period. See you tomorrow."

If this situation keeps going the same as it was, put away your fears and start thinking of being a bit more rude about that. Their toxic behavior would have bigger impact acting as a growing snowball on your mental health if you don't act and your health means more than your job. If it needs, you have to risk it in order to get the things straight. There is no easy solution.

3

Though I normally find it best to be subtle in situations like this, it is likely best to approach this issue head-on.

If I were you, I would ask them all to have lunch with you, but state during the invitation that you plan on bringing up something with the group that is very important. Also state that you don't have time to discuss this issue until lunch. Don't respond to the chatter about it on Skype or in person, just say you're quite busy and will discuss it at a later time. Once lunch comes, let the group know that you're finding there is a lot of pressure to be included in what they're doing. Let them know that you do enjoy being with them, but you're getting anxiety and stress from their reactions when you can't hang out with them. Tell them you require alone time, and also that you're worried your relationships with others are suffering because you feel unable to make other social plans, both inside and outside of work, without backlash. Let them know that your still like to hang out with them, but want to have the freedom of choosing your plans as well. Also let them know that the silent treatments and time spent resolving issues is affecting your ability to work, and so you need that to stop for the sake of your employment, as well as theirs. If they fight you on it, let them know that you may need to bring your relationships with them to a strictly professional level. If that's what's needed, stick to it.

If this talk brings more issues or doesn't stop the problem, it is time to bring this to HR. I know you'd prefer to avoid that, but realise that they are affecting your ability to work. At the end of the day, you aren't getting paid to settle fights. There massive issue is that they fight during work hours, which is simply not professional or even ethical in a work environment. Even the fact that they're trying to control your post-work hours is not okay, and is clearly making you uncomfortable. HR will need to know.

Some things to be aware of:

  • It is very unlikely that you can "unfriend" one girl without impact to the other two. Regardless of what they say to you about her, they still hang out with her. The odds of them not controlling you or bickering without her there are slim. And on that note....
  • If you are talking about her with the other two, they are probably also talking to her about you, especially if they're all pushing you to do things. It's gossip, and they could just be agreeing with your thoughts on her because they don't want to disagree, regardless of their views.
  • You should stop rising to their bait when they try to bicker on Skype. Don't answer or read it. If they come over to talk, tell them you're working and don't have time to discuss non-work related issues.
  • After all is said and done, if any of them are sending snarky comments to you or not testing your code properly, that is an issue to raise with HR. Regardless of their reasoning, they are in a professional environment with you and need to act in a professional manner. Remember, other people may read these comments in group e-mails and start thinking the same thing, purely by suggestion of thought. Do you want her cattiness to impact your employment? Obviously not. So nip it in the bud, because your HR is more likely to read those comments and side with you at the first instance of it than after ten or fifteen instances.

tl;dr Be honest, and remember that kindergarten antics in a professional environment is something that can affect your entire office's view of you. Don't play along or be afraid to talk to HR, because gossip and bitchiness can always affect your bosses view of you.

2

Although the other answers cover some good information on how to unfriend someone however I feel like the main point is being missed. The fact that you work with this person is probably the worst part about this situation. Prime example on why a lot of employers don't encourage having personal relationships with colleagues.

That being said, the QA should not bring personal experience into your professional working life, if you choose not to be her friend that shouldn't let it affect your work as that's your choice. You're entitled to what you want to do in your own time. If she has an issue with this then that's her problem, not yours.

You have two options in unfriending, one being gradual and discrete until they get the point. The other being more head on and straight up saying it to her. The main key to this is not to be afraid as it will have more negative effects for you in the long run.

Just by your description of this person I would be prepared to lose the other friends as she seems manipulative and controlling with her arguments.

1

Actually this does need HR, because it is affecting yours and the other peoples work.

Start with a fresh slate and then start recording everything.

The plan:

You are essentially going to ghost these people and document their harassment of you in response, this is what you want I assume to extricate yourself from their little clique.

  1. Ignore all non-work related emails and chats until appropriate time, like lunch break, end of shift, then reply politely but brief.
  2. Note in journal when they drop by in person, detail the date, time, interaction, and duration of the interaction.
  3. Record all chat conversations. I assume they are using a company chat program for this so records should be easy, but to be safe, screen capture or otherwise save chats. Ignore all non work chats.
  4. After you have what you feel is sufficient documentation that they are harassing you and otherwise wasting company time and resources on this harassment, go to HR with all your evidence.
  5. Your message to HR is that this group of people is harassing you and wasting yours and the companies time on that harassment, you want it to stop and you want no reprisals from them in response since you must still maintain a working relationship with them.
  6. Expect this to not go well. They will continue the harassment, most likely outside of work, document everything you can, record audio/video if legal in your area.
1

I went through something very similar about 12 months ago. Persevere and they will get the message. Make it clear that you're always busy and have a life outside of work (something they clearly don't have). Another thing I do is pretend they're invisible. I'm lucky that I don't work directly with them anymore. One thing it has taught me is NOT to socialise with work colleagues. I go to work to pay my bills END OF. Unfortunately they sound like they go to work to have a social life, sad really.

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