I work with a woman who is quite unpleasant and I am starting to get really anxious and annoyed around her.
She doesn't do small talk type of chit chat. She is either sullen and grumpy saying very little or she fires questions at people. When you answer a question as part of a collegial chit chat she then digs deeper and deeper but doesn't at all engage with your reply to her origin question.
E.g. Her: Where are you going to be for christmas? Me: We are going stay with PIL in Kent Her: blank face no reaction Me: we spend xmsas with my dp last year and try to take it in turns etc.... Her: blank face, no response no reaction just a sullen look
and on and on.
or she just keeps asking for more and more details.
I really feel put on the spot when she talks to me and am now trying to avoid spending time around or with her which makes work slightly akward.
I had to have surgery in September for an ongoing health issue. When my manager wished me luck with the surgery she just said "oh it's just <my condition> it's not like it's life or death. Empathy bypass.
Please share your sniper question dodging replies so I know how to stop answering diligently and feeling put on the spot without wing rude myself.
Eek, that’s difficult as work is a place you have to go to so no getting away as such. I’m a jokey person so I’d be lighthearted to see if I could lighten her up, or at least grab her phone and download the tinder app as it sounds like she could do with a good sesh 😈 completely understand you don’t want to be rude towards her, maybe it’s just how she was bought up with not much empathy or enthusiasm in her.
Do you ever ask her a question? That exchange you’ve described sounds like she asked you a question and you’ve kept talking without deflecting a question back to her. If you don’t want to get into a conversation just keep your answers short and bounce it back to her. EG
Her: What are you doing for Christmas? You: going to DP’s parents. You?
Lillylollylandy yes I need to remember to ask straight back when she fires off her questions. In normal conversations I take turns with asking questions but her tone is so sharp and demanding and grumpy that I feel totally cornered when she shoots off her questions. She never laughs or is light-hearted just stern and intrusive. It's like she is interrogating you not chatting with you. She does this with other people too. Most people keep their distance with her but I haven't spoken to anyone about it as it wouldn't feel fair.
Ask a question back is a good approach. What else?
My MIL is like that, asks question after question, it's very hard work. I think it does demonstrate an anxiety around conversation, it's definitely not personal. My MIL isn't grumpy though, that must be very off putting.
Her: What are you doing for Christmas? You: Going to PIL in Kent, what about you?
If this is a regular pattern I think she'd be entitled to think you were less than polite too. There's obviously more to it that that but it does sound like you could make more conversational effort too.
Or, if you don't want to/don't have the time, just stop at "Going to PIL" there was no need for all the follow up information, unless you wanted to give it.
I would have answered the question and not bothered with the follow up when she looked blank. It actually reminds me a lot of someone I know and it's not that she's rude it's that she can't read people and struggled to interact.
This is s style of questioning and conversation, made to make you feel uncomfortable. Nothing in what you’ve given in your example indicates shyness/ AN. I’ve met so many people like this- the fact you feel unnerved around her is your biggest clue. It is done to control and put you on edge. Don’t engage if you can help it.
Sorry OP I have no advice,but I will say that this sounds just like my exSIL! She used to fire a barrage of questions at me,then look totally blank and uninterested in my responses,but would just keep quizzing me about the latest bee in her bonnet. I thank my lucky stars that she's my exSIL and I have nothing to do with her now.