Today one of my coworkers told me that another coworker said that I seem unfriendly and hard to approach and that I should face the person when I talk to said coworker. He went on to say that I should talk more and make friends.

It is true that I don't talk much... but, what bothered me was that he said this in front of some people in the office, instead of after work or more privately.

Does he mean well and am I over-reacting? What would be the professional way to handle this?

  • 14
    He means well and you are overreacting.
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 3, 2022 at 0:24
  • The way to answer that is to put yourself in his shoes. You have a coworker that maybe isn't as social with other employees has he should be. Would you approach that coworker in front of other employees, or privately?
    – DaveG
    Mar 3, 2022 at 3:03
  • @DaveG I think it's that's a meaningless way to look at it. The OP is unsure what proper behaviour here is. Mar 3, 2022 at 4:11
  • When you say "am I over-reacting" - what has your reaction been other than being "bothered" ?
    – AakashM
    Mar 3, 2022 at 9:24
  • 8
    The irony of somebody talking behind your back that you should face people when you have something to say to them.
    – musefan
    Mar 3, 2022 at 14:55

3 Answers 3


I believe they meant well, however I don't think you are overreacting.

Critisism or suggestions on personal behaviour, especially unsolicited, should be given in private. This is regardless of how constructive or non-constructive it is.

I think you should demonstrate how to do this right by having a private discussion, thanking them for their advice, but asking them to do it in private in the future.


You aren't overreacting

Telling you what someone else said about you isn't giving you feedback, it's participating in gossip. Doing it in front of other people is spreading negative information.

The professional thing to say is "I would appreciate you telling me things like this in private, and if someone has something to say about me please encourage them to seek me out themself."

  • 1
    Agreed. The coworker openly disrespected/humiliated OP in front of others.
    – Foo
    Mar 3, 2022 at 9:40
  • 1
    And of course there is not another coworker, he made it up. Probably he doesn't even think that, maybe he is just afraid you can get a promotion instead of him and want to make sure you don't.
    – Mandrill
    Mar 4, 2022 at 18:12

Does he mean well and am I over-reacting? What would be the professional way to handle this?

Yes, most likely they mean well, otherwise they wouldn't have bothered to give you this feedback.

Getting feedback is golden, even more if it's constructive. You were given some suggestions to improve your overall soft-skills in a professional environment. You should take it as a chance to reflect upon that feedback and see where you have room for improvement (if there is nothing to reflect on, or the "feedback" had no merit, then waste no time reflecting and move on).

It's 1000x better that you got this feedback now, somehow informally (but with the chance to act on it now), rather than more officially in a performance review.


I'd add to my answer that, well-intended or not, constructive or not, this coworker should have told OP this in private, and it was not ok to do it publicly.

I suggest that you make your coworker aware of this, and politely tell them that in the future to come privately to you with "feedback" like this.

However, if this is not the first nor second time the coworker does things publicly, then that would be more in the "escalate to your manager" territory.

  • 1
    @user132962 yeah you have a point. I'm not saying that OP is overreacting, and never did, in fact, I agree that such public approach should have felt uncomfortable. I'd add to my answer that OP should express such thing to this coworker, and politely point them out that such comments are better to be done in private... We also ignore if this is the first time this coworker does things like this... if it's recurrent then that may suggest that this does justify escalating to manager... if this was an isolated incident, I'd just take the "feedback" and privately tell coworker what I mentioned.
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 3, 2022 at 23:19

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