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How to Deal With a Colleague Who Suddenly Stops Speaking to Me

by Genevieve Van Wyden, studioD

Your working relationship with one of your colleagues was previously professional. You were able to get along with this person, interacting about work-related issues, assignments and questions. Now, you’re being ignored and you don’t know what to do. You have to work with this person, so it’s necessary for you to restore some kind of communication.

Ignore Him, But Don't Blame Yourself

Your colleague is manipulating you by ignoring you. It might be affecting your work performance -- if there’s any work you and your colleague do together, his behavior may be blocking you from being able to complete the tasks for which you are responsible. Leave notes on his desk or send professionally worded emails to his office account, even though he might be physically present. If he has to communicate with you, your ignoring tactic will cause him to feel frustrated because he can’t get his work done, writes Franke James in “Office Politics.” If you’ve done nothing to warrant the silent treatment, resist the temptation to blame yourself. His behavior reflects more upon him than it does on you, according to Personal Excellence.

Meet With Your Manager and Get Support

Start a paper trail and communicate with your manager. Schedule a face-to-face meeting. In your meeting, explain, using behaviorally accurate descriptions, what your colleague is specifically doing to you. For example, you might say, “Mike is ignoring me when I approach his desk with a question on our project. Instead, he turns his back to me as though he hasn't heard me.” Explain the effect your colleague’s ignoring is having on your ability to get your work done, advises Joan Lloyd of Joan Lloyd & Associates. Lloyd advises that you ask your manager for her support. If you’re unable to figure out why your colleague is ignoring you, your manager will need to go talk to him about his behavior. Before you end your meeting with your manager, make sure you get her support as you deal with this issue.

Meet Courteously With Your Colleague

Approach your colleague and tell him you need to meet with him. Have a time and place ready to meet privately. Before your meeting, have specific instances of your colleague’s ignoring behavior ready to describe. Ask him why he is ignoring you and stay calm as you do so. Stress that you need to work together and you’d like to be able to return to a professional relationship, suggests Lloyd. As you’re interacting with your colleague, you might be tempted to express your feelings. Hold onto your anger so you can discuss the issue calmly. When you’re angry, you’ll say things you don’t want to say and you might get yourself in trouble, according to the Personal Excellence website.

Request a Department Transfer

If your colleague’s behavior doesn’t change, resort to your second option -- go back to your manager and ask her for a transfer to another department. You shouldn’t have to suffer for the reactions, decisions and actions of someone in your office. You spend 8 hours a day with your coworkers. One person, according to James, shouldn’t make your workdays miserable.

About the Author

Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.

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