Reply To: I feel awkward around work colleagues

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I agree with Penny and liasamturn. There’s a nice little social spot that I like to live in with most coworkers. (I’m pretty introverted too.) You can be polite, amiable, and relaxed, but you don’t have to be best friends with the other ladies or participate in the gossip.

“Live your life in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it.” Just do your job well, smile, and don’t worry about fitting in with them. You bring something different to the table, and what you offer is valuable BECAUSE it’s different. A lot of people don’t like change and can feel threatened by “outsiders”. They want you to be like them so they know their world is safe.

You can find other ways to show them that you’re not there to threaten their stability, like: occasionally listening to their complaints and being generally encouraging and supportive of their wellbeing, asking if they need help with any tasks (even if they never accept your help, offering it shows your support), offering to grab them a cup of coffee when you go to get yourself one. Little kindnesses can help them feel softer toward you even if they’re hard people. Show them you want to be part of the team, even if you’re not part of the clique.

That doesn’t mean they should walk all over you. You can find respectful and kind ways to stand up for yourself and do so often so that your emotions don’t bubble up and overflow. Like, if they try to take advantage of your kindness, you can be firm and nice: “I wish I could help you with that, but I’ve got to focus on getting my own project/tasks done right now.” You don’t have to justify it if they try to convince you. Just say, “I wish I could, but I can’t.”

Remember, you don’t have to pretend, you don’t have to be best friends, you don’t even have to like them all that much. You do have to try to find a way to work harmoniously together. You can try seeing how their annoying traits are also strengths that help them be successful.

My grandmother used to say that everyone comes into your life for a reason. You learn something from them, and if they’re awful, you just learn the lesson and move on. For better or for worse, these are the people in your life right now. They probably won’t change. Try shifting your perspective and finding something positive in them. You may develop a mutual appreciation for each other. Enjoy your relationship with your boss. Find little ways to relax and enjoy working there. You can accept who they are without sacrificing who you are.

That’s how I’ve learned to work with difficult people over the years. I generally get along pretty smoothly with them now, though it’s always a little stressful. Lots of self-control. I feel like I’m writing this to myself 4 years ago. 🙂 Best wishes Honey18!