I have a colleague who is extremely empathetic, and can always tell exactly what I'm feeling, why I'm feeling it, and can predict what I may want him to do. He often takes various actions on my behalf or predicts what I am about to ask him, or comments on my mood and this bothers me quite a bit because it feels very invasive to have someone know so much about me without me consciously volunteering the information. In addition, this coworker is very social and often/constantly socializes with people around me but never with me, which makes me feel like I'm being excluded - I don't want to have think about work as a social environment, I am used to working in a professional environment where work is about work and people do not socialize. I wish he would either not socialize with coworkers, or include me in the conversation when he does. Preferable the former.

I usually try to be accepting of his differences, but if I'm in a bad mood I get very angry at him doing this because it bothers me, and he can tell. I'm pretty sure he thinks I hate him or something - I do not, I just have a bad response to how he interacts with me when I am in a bad mood. How can I improve this situation with my coworker?

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    I don't think it is fair of you to want him to not to socialize with other people. As for him not including you, you yourself give off a vibe that you do not like socializing, so they may be refraining to do so on your behalf. – さりげない告白 Jul 5 '19 at 0:36
  • You can't make your coworker "not socialize with [other] coworkers", can you? – Taegyung Jul 5 '19 at 2:43
  • He often takes various actions on my behalf - Can you provide an example? Are we talking about handing you a pen when he can tell you're looking for one or something major? Are these things you don't actually want him to do or is it solely about him doing it without being asked? – BSMP Jul 5 '19 at 19:01

It seems that you have the unexpected interpersonal / workplace problem: the one between your colleague and the other colleagues :) And you are uncomfortable, that they have no problem :)

I wish he would either not socialize with coworkers

Of course, the first thing that you MUST do is accept things: the social skills of other people are not your concern - as long as they do not hurt you. Also, you MUST NOT try to change their behavior "just because".

it feels very invasive to have someone know so much about me without me consciously volunteering the information

In life, things are then worse that that: actually, very many people can read you (or anyone else) just like your colleague. The only difference is that your colleague is actually talking about it, while the others are not.

I don't want to have think about work as a social environment

I highly, warmly recommend you to change that point of view. The workplace is (and always was, and always will be) a social environment. There are people there, who must interact as individuals and as teams, to get the job done.

Even more, you spend the most part of your life in the office. It is in your best interest that you make the efforts to change your view on the things, and actually join and enjoy the presence of your colleagues, instead of trying to make their lives dull.

I usually try to be accepting of his differences

You can do one better than that: change yourself, befriend this guy (at least as a workplace friend, if yo do not want him as a friend in your private life). Once you improve your relationship with this guy, all your relations will become better. Empathy is one of the key ingredients of good relationships. Try to nurture yours. It will even improve your relationship with your boss, with positive effects on the professional life.

I know from my own experience that it can be difficult. The easiest thing to do is to ask your colleague to get you with him next time he goes to have a break. Don't be afraid to socialize. Don't be afraid to have friends and to have a life of your own.

Believe me, while professional life can be very satisfactory, personal life is even more so. If you can combine them and get double benefits, then why not? ;)

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    Really great answer +1! Especially 'The workplace is (and always was, and always will be) a social environment.' is a very essential statement.. – iLuvLogix Jul 5 '19 at 7:47

Please don't overthink this. It's a difference in personal style.

You can take a moment or two to explain your personal style:

Have a private conversation with this person, where nobody else can overhear. Tell him you are a private person and you wish he would stop the unwanted behavior. "When you said yesterday, 'Why are you in a bad mood?' it felt intrusive to me. I feel like you're always watching me, and it makes me uncomfortable. Can you please give me a bit more space?"


Quite obviously he does not know a lot about you, or doesn’t care about your feelings one bit, or he would have known that his actions upset you and would have stopped.

What he does is just a cheap parlour trick. The way to stop it is to demonstrate to everyone it doesn’t work. The next time he pretends to know something about you, you straight contradict him. If he says you’re happy, you say “what makes you think I’m happy, my cat died yesterday”. If he then says you’re sad, you say “the driver of the car that killed my cat gave me $1,000 in compensation, so why would I be sad”.

He’ll soon stop predicting what you feel or want.

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