I recently started a job in a new office, where it seems like anytime a casual conversation is initiated its typically in negative context about another employee on a personal level.

This started from Day 1 - 2 of my desk neighbors constantly rag on employee X about things completely unrelated to work, on a personal level. My first week, I was taken to lunch by the managers, and again a popular topic of conversation was how weird/creepy employees / ex-employees were, which was surprising coming from people in leadership positions.

Employee X is admittedly a bit odd, but as a person who is also more than a bit odd this is making me extremely anxious and self cautious.

I had a few similar experiences at a previous job, being the target of ill-intention, hurtful pranks, where HR departments have gotten involved - in these situations immaturity was definitely a primary culprit, as these people were entry/intern level in their early 20s, at a "start-up, carefree, do whatever you want" culture. In my current situation however I'm the youngest person on the team, and among the 3 youngest developers in a group of ~30 developers with a lot of seniority.

Am I being overly sensitive in general toward this? My experience with social groups at large is that they always contain a few people like this, and that perhaps this is just part of the general work experience.

I'm sure not every person here is like this and this is likely the case of "a few bad apples", but at the same time I hate feeling like I have to clam up and be uncomfortable just to avoid being a target of gossip especially this early in the experience. I also fear the tension created by bringing it up to a manager that has already expressed similar behavior about other people.

  • What is the country? Mar 22, 2019 at 16:57
  • This is in the United Sates.
    – user101732
    Mar 22, 2019 at 16:58
  • I don't think you're being overly sensitive it's not that of a serious situation but it certainly gets annoying to hear people talk shit all the time, have you considered how people would react if you totally ignore the chats? of course you're going to be labeled as "bad fit" but some teams just let that be
    – user86742
    Mar 22, 2019 at 17:05
  • That's probably the best course of action - It's just disappointing to commit to and be excited about a new opportunity and have immediate personal red flags like this. I'm still pretty early in my career and it gives me the (naive) impression that everywhere is like this, but it's not and I could probably use this as motivation to continue looking for a better fit opportunity as inconvenient as that is.
    – user101732
    Mar 22, 2019 at 17:11
  • How long have you been with this company and how have you been functioning socially at this company up until this point?
    – sf02
    Mar 22, 2019 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


This situation doesn't sound very foreign to me.

Consider the fact that this is a new position. I had just joined a company and remember being a bit anxious around the interactions two employees had. I was so focused on figuring out my role, I didn't want the stress of having to be one of the guys on top of it (or gals, people, whatever... I assume this can apply to all groups).

Well, over time I found out I was never dragged into it. I developed into my own work personality before I knew it and I threw my own dynamic into the ring. By this I mean my own humor and comic-relief.

The point is, this is probably new and you'll adapt. In the case that this is a matter of being one of the guys, it's at least a common belief that this is a form of bonding. Again I can say the same for gals or mixed groups, non-binary, etc., but from my personal experience that is the case. Don't be intimidated or worried about it, I'm sure you'll sink into your own groove eventually.

If that doesn't sound good to you or after time this doesn't work out they way I'm explaining, then the best you can do is move on. Every company has its own culture and sometimes you just aren't a good fit. It's better to just keep looking and learn to look out for the signs before you sign.

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