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Don't understand my co-workers


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Old 12th February 2012, 5:22 AM   #1
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Don't understand my co-workers

I have a tendency to be a bit oversensitive and to take things too personal, so therefore I'd like to get different perspectives on the following situations.

Background info:
I've been working as a project assistant/assistant of the main project manager since last year. I have a temporary contract unlike the other people in the project. It's not a very high position and the people around nearly all have PhDs (it doesn't bother me since I have my university degree and I have plenty of friends with PhDs, it's not a big deal, I guess, it matters quite more in corporate world).

1.
One of my co-worker (A) recently asked people around him if they wanted to go to lunch with him. He asked the guy in front of me (E), the guy behind him (B), the woman behind me (C), someone who was sitting in front of him (workplace D), some dude passing by, people on the phone and then he asked me. I sit next to him and we've also been to lunch once with guy (B).

A, B and C belong to one department, E and I belong to a different one. Workplace D is shared by various people who come and go. A, D, and I are sitting at one table group, me facing E, A facing D. B is with the back to A, C is with her back to me.

He is the kind of person who sometimes buys chocolate from the automat and then gives it to the people around him. He never forgets me and I will always smile and say something like, "Aw, you're fantastic. " It's a little joke between us. What I want to say is, we usually get along well.

I turned his offer down, saying something like, "Hey, I've been watching you ask everybody else and now you ask me. Sorry, I won't do that."

The other day he asked me again, joking and calling me the fill-in in reference to the other day, so he is aware that his behavior was a little bit off.

2.
My co-worker in front of me, one of the project managers, with whom I work together a lot, and we also get along well usually, rarely has lunch dates (do you say "lunch date" even when it's just with co-workers? I'm not sure.) with me. If he asks me, I can almost be certain that someone cancelled the lunch date with him and he is looking for last-minute company.

3.
Guy B celebrates the birthday of his newborn son and brings cake to work. He starts cutting the cake and offers it to A, offers it to someone sitting at D, offers it to co-worker E, offers it to my boss, who sits on my right-hand side, separated by an aisle, offers it to his boss who sits in front of my boss, offers it to the assistant of the project leader (above my boss), except for A they all sit further away from him than I do, even separated by tables, and finally, after a while, offers it to me. Honestly, I wasn't even sure if he was going to offer me anything or not. He's been in the project for like two months and we have already gone to lunch once, so he might have known the other people from his department, but certainly not my boss or the assistant of the project leader or my co-worker in front of me.

I've been working on myself not to be overly sensitive and I try not to let things that other people do get to me, but it's starting to have an affect on me and I'm withdrawing. I really don't understand this kind of behavior and I have zero clue what kind of impression I make on these people. I have a somewhat short temper, but in general, I'm a likeable person. When I was unemployed, a friend of mine told me, "You're nice, people like you." and I was like, "Ok, and...?" and she said, "It helps you with getting a job, because people will hire you when they like you."
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Old 12th February 2012, 3:35 PM   #2
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I wonder if it's because you're there on a temporary basis. I worked as a temp in the past, and people that are regularly employed in a given situation CAN act differently if they know the person won't be there for very long. Doesn't make it right, but that's how it goes sometimes. I would kind of think this guy was being a little rude too, in this situation. There's no reason why you can't be made to feel a little more welcome during your time there.

I'd let it roll off my back, and use this opportunity to network a bit for a permanent position elsewhere.
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Old 12th February 2012, 3:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by EspressoTorte View Post
I wonder if it's because you're there on a temporary basis. I worked as a temp in the past, and people that are regularly employed in a given situation CAN act differently if they know the person won't be there for very long. Doesn't make it right, but that's how it goes sometimes. I would kind of think this guy was being a little rude too, in this situation. There's no reason why you can't be made to feel a little more welcome during your time there.

I'd let it roll off my back, and use this opportunity to network a bit for a permanent position elsewhere.
That's one of the possibilities that I have also considered. It feels as if there is a barrier between me and them.
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Old 12th February 2012, 4:00 PM   #4
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That's one of the possibilities that I have also considered. It feels as if there is a barrier between me and them.
Don't sweat it. If all else at this assignment is going well, don't let anyone's behavior affect your work there.
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Old 12th February 2012, 4:00 PM   #5
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You seem to be insecure bordering on a neurosis. I'm guessing it's when your at home, lying in bed trying to sleep, etc. that this stuff gets to you.

On the positive side you recognize it.

Just remember that your insecurity this has 'nothing' to do with the behavior of your co-workers and everything to do with your own reactions. they can all be rude a-holes, turkeys, idiots or the nicest people on the planet. You can't control their behaviour but only the way you react to it. From what you describe, you seem to maintain your dignity and have good social projection.
So, I should just believe my co-workers are *******s? And there is no possible other explanation to it?
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Old 12th February 2012, 4:20 PM   #6
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No. It's doesn't matter what you think of your co-workers. They can be idiots or saints. You can only control your own behavior.

The pattern you don't want to get into is 'there is something wrong with THEM'. This is when insecurity crosses over into a neurosis. When someone starts to have issues with more than one person then the issue may not be 'them'...but 'me'. As in 'is there something wrong with me?'. People becone insecure when they divide the world into a 'them vs me' (who is right or wrong) scenario instead of thinking of 'us'.
I posted a very general request for other perspectives, so you're very welcome to give possible explanations that shed light on these situations without putting the guilt on anybody.
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Old 12th February 2012, 5:15 PM   #7
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What makes you think of this as 'guilt'? People have emotional issues and it is nothing to do with 'guilt' anymore than having the measles is about 'guilt'. If you feel insecure at work then there is no need to feel guilty about it but rather deal with your insecurity. Posting your issue is a positive step. Your issue isn't 'them' but 'you'. Only you can deal with your insecurity. We can't change the personality of others...we can only change the way we react to others.
But that doesn't really make me understand the situation better at all. Like, what Espressotorte said makes sense. It's a possible explanation.

And even if I didn't feel insecure about this situation and couldn't care less what other people do or don't do, it would still make me think these people are *******s which is not really helping in having a good work relationship with my co-workers.

Really, if you think your co-workers are behaving ****ty and you don't feel it's necessary to research possible reasons that lead to these situations, you're kind of arrogant.
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Old 12th February 2012, 5:21 PM   #8
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I'm only basing my take on personal experience for what it's worth.

It's a temporary assignment, but if you take on the view that these people are assh*les, it's gonna show in your demeanor which may not help you in the long run.

Even if they are, just rise above it. Don't let it bug you.
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Old 12th February 2012, 5:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by EspressoTorte View Post
I'm only basing my take on personal experience for what it's worth.

It's a temporary assignment, but if you take on the view that these people are assh*les, it's gonna show in your demeanor which may not help you in the long run.

Even if they are, just rise above it. Don't let it bug you.
No, I don't really think they are *******s and I don't let it show too much that it's bothering me.
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Old 12th February 2012, 5:42 PM   #10
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No, I don't really think they are *******s and I don't let it show too much that it's bothering me.
But it's bothering enough that you posted about it.

My conclusion is, don't take it personally or view yourself as "lesser" because they've been there a while, or have gone on further in their education than you have. It's self defeating in the end, and I think this is the other reason you might be thinking of since you mentioned it. I've heard bad stories from people that have worked in consulting at multinational corporations about the abuse they endured because employees there thought they could get away with it.

Extend them professional courtesy for the rest of your time there so you leave a good impression. Your work, and to an extent your attitude, is what will count in the end.
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Old 12th February 2012, 5:59 PM   #11
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But it's bothering enough that you posted about it.

My conclusion is, don't take it personally or view yourself as "lesser" because they've been there a while, or have gone on further in their education than you have. It's self defeating in the end, and I think this is the other reason you might be thinking of since you mentioned it. I've heard bad stories from people that have worked in consulting at multinational corporations about the abuse they endured because employees there thought they could get away with it.

Extend them professional courtesy for the rest of your time there so you leave a good impression. Your work, and to an extent your attitude, is what will count in the end.
I mentioned their degrees, because I think people do place a higher importance to it here than what I'm used to.

It's bothering me, because I don't understand their behavior and I wonder if I'm contributing to it somehow. I can be nice or I can just be polite. I just don't want to be nice and trust people to be nice back and then get disappointed. I also don't want to be too cold and push people away when they actually do like me and it's just a misunderstanding.
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Old 12th February 2012, 6:35 PM   #12
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I mentioned their degrees, because I think people do place a higher importance to it here than what I'm used to.

It's bothering me, because I don't understand their behavior and I wonder if I'm contributing to it somehow. I can be nice or I can just be polite. I just don't want to be nice and trust people to be nice back and then get disappointed. I also don't want to be too cold and push people away when they actually do like me and it's just a misunderstanding.
If you aren't sure if you're contributing to their behavior, then act in a way where you will know how they'll respond.

If you don't want to waste energy by being nice, then don't invest in anything beyond a work relationship.
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Old 12th February 2012, 7:29 PM   #13
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PlumPrincess, your lack of maturity in accepting positive feedback is revealing. Do you have this attitude at work?
No, my little sunshine.
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Old 12th February 2012, 7:31 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by EspressoTorte View Post
If you aren't sure if you're contributing to their behavior, then act in a way where you will know how they'll respond.
I don't think I get that... What do you mean?

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Originally Posted by EspressoTorte View Post
If you don't want to waste energy by being nice, then don't invest in anything beyond a work relationship.
But I want to have a nice work relationship with my co-workers, which includes for me, cooperating and having lunch together occasionally.
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Old 13th February 2012, 12:42 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by PlumPrincess View Post

I turned his offer down, saying something like, "Hey, I've been watching you ask everybody else and now you ask me. Sorry, I won't do that."

The other day he asked me again, joking and calling me the fill-in in reference to the other day, so he is aware that his behavior was a little bit off.

2.
My co-worker in front of me, one of the project managers, with whom I work together a lot, and we also get along well usually, rarely has lunch dates (do you say "lunch date" even when it's just with co-workers? I'm not sure.) with me. If he asks me, I can almost be certain that someone cancelled the lunch date with him and he is looking for last-minute company.

3.
Guy B celebrates the birthday of his newborn son and brings cake to work. He starts cutting the cake and offers it to A, offers it to someone sitting at D, offers it to co-worker E, offers it to my boss, who sits on my right-hand side, separated by an aisle, offers it to his boss who sits in front of my boss, offers it to the assistant of the project leader (above my boss), except for A they all sit further away from him than I do, even separated by tables, and finally, after a while, offers it to me. Honestly, I wasn't even sure if he was going to offer me anything or not.
You sound quite paranoid and like someone who is searching for slight when none was intended. I never ever sit here and think 'mmm I wonder whether I was the last one to get a slice of cake offered'

Work is work. They are not your friends, you are a group of people who try to get along and survive in the same space. If you come across chippy (cue "Hey, I've been watching you ask everybody else and now you ask me. Sorry, I won't do that." comment), your colleagues will avoid you.
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