3

I am an apprentice at a company that shares office space with a totally different company (same CEO for both though).

I am only one of the two people (me and my manager) of my company working there, but I share office space with an employee of the other company.

Seeing that I am not that comfortable socializing and communicating in the office as a whole (I have fixed those issues when it implies communication with my manager, and communication flows fine with them), I received an email from my manager asking, quite firmly, that I communicate more with the employee that is with me in my room.

Although I can see the benefit that I would get more comfortable communicating, I don't want to do so. I don't see the interest, from my point of view, my state of mind and my work, to communicate in this situation, especially when forced and where there is nothing really to talk about with them.

How to respond to my manager professionally that I find the request quite bizarre (it is clearly not worded as an advice but as an order and can also be interpreted as a warning) and that I am not comfortable in doing so, despite what they ask?

19
  • 20
    I don't see what's so bizarre about this request. Expecting you to able to communicate with co-workers seems perfectly normal (to be clear, even if you're not working at the same company, working in the same room means they are a type of co-worker). Jun 3, 2022 at 11:01
  • 8
    Not that bizarre at all. The employee may have complained about feeling isolated, and the CEO may want everyone to be a bit more chummy. Jun 3, 2022 at 11:03
  • 6
    Would you tell us what kind of communication is expected? Jun 3, 2022 at 14:49
  • 12
    @PiotrGolacki In what world is it bizarre to expect common courtesy, acknowledgement and a basic form of communication with people who you share an office with?! Jun 3, 2022 at 16:22
  • 5
    @PiotrGolacki There is no business reason? I'd think that being able to communicate with your peers, colleagues, co-workers and customers is absolutely normal. If you're unable to even communicate and interact with someone you work in the same room daily, how are you going to fare in other interactions? There is definitely a business reason, businesses work because of communication. Jun 4, 2022 at 7:35

3 Answers 3

32

I am an apprentice at my company

So you need to do as requested, at least minimally. You don't typically get to do things your way as an apprentice.

All you need to do is be polite. You don't have work in common so just the social niceties need to be observed. They're an important part of working.

My guess is that the other person was asked and mentioned that you're not polite, this is a flag to a manager that you may be someone who may not work well in a team or have a strange attitude. Pushing back when all you need to do is say Hello, how are you? etc,. just sets the flag on fire.

4
  • 10
    Yeah, seems like a perfect thing to learn as an apprentice. You'll need it in the future. Jun 3, 2022 at 14:51
  • 3
    Sorry, but this seems like a very presumptuous take. Plenty of workplaces don't like introverts and I've experienced similar coercion in the past. The answer isn't just 'be more open and talk with the coworkers'. That creates an unhealthy expectation that is literally masking for other peoples comfort. I'm not going to burn out masking so you can feel better. Get exactly what complaints the manager has and address those. Addressing the concerns might be telling them to get used to not being chummy with one employee. As long as work related communication is unhindered we don't need to socialize Jul 21, 2023 at 13:24
  • 1
    Could also go "malicious compliance" route if we are talking about "minimally" doing as requested. Talk with the other employee, but be weird about it. Talk about your severed doll head collection, or list every type of sandwich you've ever eaten. Be very polite about everything though. I think that this answer was right that it was probably the employee that mentioned you don't talk, and this would get them off your case quick. Worth a shot if your alternatives are don't comply at all or be mentally drained from social interactions with this person every day. Jul 21, 2023 at 15:54
  • @JackGifford Sorry, but I think "malicious compliance" here would be very ill-advised for the original questioner. This person already has a reputation for being non-communicative, enough so that it was raised as a concern to management. Adding being (deliberately) odd and creepy is unlikely to make things better.
    – Mark Meuer
    14 hours ago
9

Communicating with people is a normal part of business. I would suggest you change your attitude real quick and accept this fact. Being an apprentice and having an attitude of...

I don't want to do so. I don't see the interest, from my point of view, my state of mind and my work, to communicate in this situation, especially when forced and where there is nothing really to talk about with them.

...is going to give you a loooong haul in the corporate world and make you of limited use to any company.

4

The benefit is you get to keep your job.

Bosses get to make demands of employees. Unless the demand is unlawful due to some labor law, the employee generally needs to meet the demand. Frankly, whether or not the request is reasonable isn't part of the equation. Employers who continually make unreasonable demands may find it difficult to retain employees.

1
  • Very true and in this case, the manager simply wants the apprentice to communicate. There are few requests that are more basic than normal human interaction.
    – rhoonah
    Jul 27, 2023 at 18:26

You must log in to answer this question.