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Missing my Work Friend

(6 Posts)
BewilderedandConfused Thu 15-Nov-12 22:42:04

Named changed in case colleague recognises me.

I've recently returned back to work after taking a year off on maternity leave, and am finding it hard to reconnect with some of my colleagues - not helped by the fact that there's been a lot more staff turnover than normal, and some office reorganisation, during my year away.

Most of my colleagues that I was friendly with before are still friendly towards me and behaving fairly normally (the ones who are still here, that is).

However, I'm having trouble with one colleague in particular. We were friendly before I went on maternity leave. Admittedly, while on maternity leave, I didn't manage to keep in touch with people as frequently as I would have liked, for a few reasons, but while on maternity leave, I spoke to her on the phone and saw her in person several times, and she was nice and friendly then.

Since I came back to work, I can only describe her behaviour towards me as polite but distant. She hasn't initiated any non-work conversations with me, and when I initiate conversation, she usually replies as briefly as possible, and makes no effort to maintain the conversation. She was in charge of the seating plan for our department, and has placed my seat as far away from hers as possible. I am now sitting with my back to the rest of the department, and have empty desks on either side of mine, which is making me feel a bit isolated. We used to have lunch together quite often before I went on maternity leave, but haven’t had lunch once since I got back - she always has a reason why she can’t do lunch with me. And she often seems to be making an active effort to avoid me.

I'm a bit hurt and confused by it all. I know I was never one of her best friends, but now she’s acting like she wants as little to do with me as possible. I've been racking my mind to try and figure out why her behaviour towards me has changed so much. As far as I can tell, she’s behaving pretty normally towards everyone else. I'm wondering if I've done something to upset her, but can't think of a way to ask her this without coming across as all needy. Especially given that she's finding ways to avoid me. I’m also nervous about asking other colleagues if I've done anything to upset her, in case it gets back to her and causes more upset.

If she really doesn’t want to be friends with me any more, there may be very little I can do about it – but I miss being able to talk to her. I want to be able to bridge this gap, but I’m finding it very difficult to know where to start when I have no idea what her problem with me is.

ImperialBlether Thu 15-Nov-12 22:48:15

What an odd way for her to behave. Firstly I think you need to change where you sit. Nobody wants to sit with their back to everyone and with empty seats around them. That seems like a very spiteful thing for her to do. Email her (so that there's a copy) and say:

"Hi OddPerson, don't know whether you noticed but my desk is in a really awful position. I have my back to everyone and I'm not sitting next to anyone. You know I've just come back off maternity leave and it's obvious I need to work closely with others so that I can catch up, never mind the fact I'd like to sit in a more sociable place. What do you suggest? X has a free desk next to her - I assume it's OK to move?"

If she doesn't let you do this, then you should take the matter further - it seems very like bullying.

She appears to be punishing you for something. Any idea what?

LAlady Thu 15-Nov-12 22:48:16

Do you both do the same job? Has she taken on some of your responsibilities whilst you were on maternity leave? Do you think she might feel "threatened" or insecure about your return to work?

mrsgboring Thu 15-Nov-12 23:13:43

What is her situation? Could she possibly be trying for a baby and seething with jealousy over your success? Not an excuse but would explain her trying to put distance between you?

BewilderedandConfused Fri 16-Nov-12 00:27:11

I've been trying to think of things I may have said or done that could have caused offence, but am drawing a blank so far.

I think asking to be moved to a different desk is a good idea. There's a desk in a more central area that's currently just being used for people to stack documents on, so that's a good one to suggest.

We work in the same department, but have different roles and responsibilities, so she shouldn't have any reason to feel insecure about my return - my presence or absence doesn't affect her workload.

mrsgboring - I wonder if you might have something there. She's single, so not really in a position to try for a baby - but - in the past, she's often talked about how cute babies are, and joked about wanting to steal or buy one. And she turned 40 within the last year, so I guess time's running out if she does want a baby.

FrameyMcFrame Fri 16-Nov-12 00:43:02

Totally agree with ImperialBlether's email. You can't be made to sit in an isolated spot like that. Send an email, politely stating that you're not accepting this seating plan.

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