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I'm very upset with the way my teammate has been behaving.

I only have one teammate in my department and he's the first person I work with when I join the company. He was nice and helped me with tasks without any issue. We communicated well. But about a month later, he started to be more reserved and don't really talked to me. I felt it was odd because I have done nothing to make him resent me. I'm not a gossiper and I'm always ready to help.

And then during one lunch time, he told me he's having lunch with his friend which is a colleague from the HQ. And told me he had some stuffs to talk to his friend and hinted me I shouldn't join. And I said no problem.

Since then, he always goes out for lunch without saying a word to me and didn't have the courtesy to ask me. I don't know what to do. I just acted like I'm not hurt and this has been going on for a month now.

My friends advised me to let him be and ignore him back. I thought of talking to him about but it is extremely awkward and I don't want him to feel I'm so needy. But I really want to be included in lunch outing and be happy in the workplace.

What are proven ways to re-engage with my colleage?

marked as duplicate by Jan Doggen, Garrison Neely, nvoigt, Michael Grubey, Chris E Jan 28 '15 at 5:16

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Just be professional when working with him. That's all you can do. – scaaahu Jan 10 '14 at 11:51
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    Hi Amber, welcome to [WP.SE]. You may notice, I re-formatted your question a bit to make it easier to read. I also changed the question at the end because asking for advice is out of scope for StackExchange, as this site wants to focus on clearly cut problems and factual answeres, instead of opinions. If you feel this edit does not reflect what you want to know any longer, please feel free to edit and change it to your liking. – CMW Jan 10 '14 at 11:57
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    I largely disagree with scaaahu, there's a lot you can do to re-engage with your colleague. But I want to point out that, if you're female and he's male there may be factors outside the company (i.e. partners) involved that influence their behaviour. Keep this in mind when thinking about the issue. – CMW Jan 10 '14 at 11:59
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    I don't think this is a duplicate at all. – HLGEM Jan 10 '14 at 16:58

The short of it:

if you want something done, do it yourself.

You want to have lunch with you colleague? Invite them.

You want to be happy in the workplace? Make others in the workplace happy.

You want to be included by others? Include them yourself.

I would say "Do to others as you would have them do to you", if it wouldn't sound like preaching.

How does this work?

or: I want them to change, not myself! / This isn't about me but the other person. / But this is too simple, how can this work?

Doing this exploits a neat little mechanism in the human mind. People call it the principle of reciprocity. Basically, somebody gives you something first, then asks something from you, you have a much harder time, saying no. Sales people love this.

Here however you use it for something more benign. You give them something, say, attention or happiness, by inviting them to have lunch or what you may think of. Next time they think about who to invite (read: their brain asks them to invite you), they will include you, too.


Executive Summary

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. Is he obligated to have lunch with you?
  2. Are you obligated to have lunch with him?
  3. Why are you worried this will make you look needy?

You want to know how to make someone socialize with you without seeming needy. Instead you should focus on creating healthy relationships at work rather than one-sided ones based on convenience.

Common Courtesy

When someone joins a new community, be it a workplace, a club, a sports team, a cafe full of regulars, or otherwise, people generally feel obliged to make that person feel welcome. One way people do that in an office is by asking you out to lunch when you have nobody else to ask because you're new, to let you meet some new people and feel like you are being included in the group.

Common courtesy goes both ways. If someone offers to hold a door for you, you should acknowledge that they did so (saying thanks, or smiling, or whatever -- not barging through the held door on your cell phone as if it is your God-given right to have people hold doors for you). If someone invites you to lunch, you should thank them, and extend the courtesy of not taking that invitation for granted.

Before you joined, your coworker was having lunch with other people (or alone). Perhaps they like spending the lunch break reading. Or chatting about sports. Or making connections with people in other departments to further their career. Or taking a nap.

Should he be obligated to have lunch with you every day and sacrifice his own time?

Branch Out

You say that he is the only person in your department. The same would apply to him, but he has found other people to have lunch with. Why is he the only person you can have lunch with? If you are working with other people from other departments, why not send them an e-mail or give them a call to ask them if they want to have lunch sometime?

If you don't have anyone you feel comfortable inviting to lunch, perhaps that is an indication that you should work on creating a better network of acquaintances at work. If you are depending on a single person to make you feel included socially, all you're doing is shifting the burden of create a social circle from you two the person you depend on. And there's no reason you should need to do that.

Seeming 'Needy'

You recognize that you don't want to seem needy, yet your request is how to get the other person to accommodate your needs without offering anything in return.

When you were having lunch with your coworker, were you offering something of value in return? Were you providing interesting conversation, or just using him as a social crutch? Do you know what the person in HQ offers that you don't? Healthy relationships are not one-sided, and both sides offer something the other wants. Unless you can find something that you can offer the relationship, you will definitely seem needy.

To change that you need to:

  1. Stop depending on a single person for your social interaction
  2. Find more people who you can talk with to improve your happiness at work
  3. Work on finding ways to add value to the work relationships you have so they aren't one-sided

My guess is this-- he has a girlfriend/wife and was mentioning how well things were going with you. She got jealous and demanded he distance himself from you, so he had to. (I"m assuming you're a woman).

My other guess is that he had a routine going before you joined and it was his job to train you for the first month. Now he wants to go back to his old routine, eating lunch like he used to, etc.

Don't think about it. Just focus on your work and find other co-workers to chat with. I never got too friendly with co-workers myself, I prefer to have my friends outside of the workplace. Good luck!

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    Upvoted for "I never got too friendly with co-workers myself, I prefer to have my friends outside of the workplace." – user27584 Dec 28 '14 at 3:39

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