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I have been at a new full time job as a Software Developer now for just over 3 months. I got this job right out of college (literally 2 weeks after I graduated).

I love working here and I love my co workers but one of them intimidates me quite a bit and I am always afraid to ask him questions or approach him. I always get my work done on time and this co worker is the head technician (not software as it's a different team) and not my boss but I find myself needing his services often because I work on phone systems and he hooks up whatever I need at my desk.

This co worker I have heard can get moody quickly and you don't want to be on his bad side. I have never upset him but he always is very serious. It could in the future pose a problem for me because I don't like asking him for help and find myself procrastinating instead of approaching him. Can anyone give me some advice on how to approach this situation?

marked as duplicate by gnat, Alec, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Jim G., yochannah Aug 30 '15 at 11:23

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    Keep it professional at every moment. As long as you do that, anywhere else will be your coworker's fault – SJuan76 Aug 25 '15 at 16:31
  • can you expand some more on the kind of incidents that have occurred which draw the guideline of you don't want to be on his bad side ? – amphibient Aug 25 '15 at 17:35
  • @amphibient I haven't been involved in any incidents or seen any since being here, however my direct boss (General manager) and some others have all said his bad side is not a good place to be. – Resistance Aug 25 '15 at 17:56
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    People are much less intimidating after you've gotten to know them and vice versa. Give it time. – keshlam Aug 25 '15 at 22:58
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    Just another tip, don't take it personally. He is probably that way and not have anything to do with you. – Juan Carlos Oropeza Aug 25 '15 at 23:35
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This is not that uncommon. I've even heard it said about me! I am not intimidating by any means, but there were times when it could come across that way. Usually those times involved one or more of these annoying things:

  1. Timing. If I'm deep into some nasty, frustrating, time-critical thing, I'm probably not in my most charming mood. Don't come to me with something really trivial. If it can wait, then let it wait. If you don't know if I'm busy, then ask. I might send you away at the moment, but I'll suggest you come back in an hour or so.

  2. Don't come to me with no idea of what you want. I don't want to play 20 questions. I don't like guessing games. This happens a lot with junior engineers. "I got an error doing this thing." "What was the error?" "I don't remember, but I was doing...."

  3. Don't expect me to do your work. I'm happy to answer questions, and I will sit down and walk through stuff with you if necessary. But don't throw me a problem and then sit back and let me deal with it.

If I'm the guy you need to talk to, then you can't be afraid to talk to me. Just don't come to me like a helpless puppy. I'm not a jerk, I'm just busy. Do your homework first, and I'll be as helpful as I can be.

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    You raise perfectly worded points. I will definitely remember those when I need to speak with him. – Resistance Aug 25 '15 at 20:58
  • Dude, you nailed it – Kyle Dec 17 '15 at 11:31
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Welcome to the workplace; both the website and the thing in a big office with fluorescent lights.

The first thing to say here is that meeting people like this is inevitable. They just exist. You'll find one in many offices, and there's no way around meeting them. It's all about learning to deal with them.

Secondly, then, make sure you do talk to him. The biggest risk you can take is the where you say "It could in the future pose a problem for me because I don't like asking him for help and find myself procrastinating instead of approaching him". Annoying another colleague can be awkward but not doing your work will get you fired, sooner or later. Your priority is doing your work, not worrying about your social interactions.

So the obvious question: how do you talk to him? Well the first thing to try to do is recognise that he's only human: he might be working under pressure and a bit ratty if asked to do other things, but he's still a human with normal emotions and stresses. He also holds no position of authority over you, other than presumably seniority - which is no real authority at all. So just talk to him. Put your emphasis on keeping things professional, and work out exactly what you want to ask before you ask it. At the same time, work out why you need it.

Your aim should be to enter his office/work area, politely get his attention (waiting a moment if he's busy) then putting forward your request as concisely as possible. If he asks why, explain, but again as briefly as possible while giving all the information. It's about keeping things professional, giving him as little as possible to object to, and ignoring the social aspects.

You may also wish to consider mentioning to him that he seems busy, and would he prefer you to send requests via email? That has the additional bonus of keeping a record of what you've asked for and when, so that if he delays you then you have evidence that it's not due to laziness.

And finally, don't let yourself be intimidated. He's your co-worker, nothing more: he might be a grumpy, busy co-worker, but that's no reason to change anything in your approach other than to try to cut out the chit chat you may incorporate when discussing things with friendlier colleagues.

  • I will remember these tips. I think part of my problem is me being new and unsure in the working world so it is all still a bit overwhelming at times and anything different can cause some stress/panic. – Resistance Aug 25 '15 at 20:59
  • Yeah confidence is a big thing. Just keep in mind that everyone s human – Jon Story Aug 25 '15 at 20:59

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