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Thread: Coworker with poor social skills

  1. #1
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    Coworker with poor social skills

    Hi all,

    I recently started a new job and as most people, have been working from home the whole time. I got hired at the same time as another male coworker (same level) and I sensed something odd from him from the beginning. He asks the most trivial questions (fine, tons of people are like that) and literally monopolizes the manager's time by requesting various meetings to perform his tasks.

    Anyway - he organized a get together on Friday with a few coworkers and our manager, but only two of us showed up (the manager & I). When he entered the room, he proceeded to kiss my cheek (by the time I realized he was leaning, it was too late). I thought it was inappropriate under normal circumstances (when it's the first time you meet a colleague), but especially under COVID.

    Then, I noticed a few strange traits. He wouldn't really drive the conversation and respond with one word answers, then stare blankly at the wall with almost no eye-contact. He seemed socially awkward, but almost to the point where I thought he had social anxiety. That's fine, but his behavior made me feel uncomfortable as it was almost robotic. Perhaps he suffers from some kind of social anxiety/condition, in which case, it would explain it and my thread is therefore void.

    He texted me on Saturday a "Hi, how are you" - to which I didn't respond as I don't respond to coworkers on weekends. I shared my phone number with the manager as part of a work-related WhatsApp group. I didn't share it for the purpose of chatting on weekends. He picked up my number from the WhatsApp group, I never gave it to him directly.

    Since I didn't respond, he Skyped me today at work asking me if I saw his WhatsApp message over the weekend. I said no, because I have a separate business phone from my personal (not true, but hoping he'd get the hint that I don't mix coworkers/friends) and my business phone is shut down on weekends. Then, he proceeded to say: "Perhaps you can add me to your personal mobile, so we can talk about non-work related things".

    I didn't respond to this request. I think he has some social issues. What should I do?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by RuedeRivoli; 09-08-2020 at 01:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    He may be lonely and looking for friends. The best thing to do is not get too up in arms about it or irritable. It will just affect your work performance. Tell him politely and firmly you do not hang out or talk with coworkers outside of work. Keep it simple and don't open it up to discussion. Don't overread it either.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    I think he's got some social issues, this is appalling! What should I do?
    Maybe a little socially awkward and inappropriate but describing it as appalling seems extreme. He may have a social anxiety disorder or be on the autism spectrum and using social cues that have worked for him in the past. At the end of the day, you need to set a boundary and make it clear about what you are and aren't comfortable with... such as letting him know that you prefer chatting with co-workers within work hours only, and only about specific topics... and that you are uncomfortable with physical affection from a co-worker. I've found that the vast majority prefer kind and direct communication vs. vague "hints" because they then know what to expect and how to behave.

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    I think he's indeed looking for friends.

    I didn't respond as I didn't know how to respond in all honesty. Since I believe he may suffer from some anxiety disorder, I didn't want to be too abrupt in my response and have to be careful in how I am phrasing my response. I'm sure he feels isolated and perhaps a bit lonely, but boundaries have to be set when it comes to coworkers.

    He really reminds me of a child which makes it difficult for me to find an appropriate response.

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by maew
    Maybe a little socially awkward and inappropriate but describing it as appalling seems extreme. He may have a social anxiety disorder or be on the autism spectrum and using social cues that have worked for him in the past. At the end of the day, you need to set a boundary and make it clear about what you are and aren't comfortable with... such as letting him know that you prefer chatting with co-workers within work hours only, and only about specific topics... and that you are uncomfortable with physical affection from a co-worker. I've found that the vast majority prefer kind and direct communication vs. vague "hints" because they then know what to expect and how to behave.
    I agree with the "appalling" statement - I may have gone a bit overboard, hence the fact it is now deleted. Given he seems to have social awkwardness, it is inappropriate for me to make such harsh comment.

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    Platinum Member LaHermes's Avatar
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    Rivoli.

    "Perhaps you can add me to your personal mobile, so we can talk about non-work related things".


    Does he send this type of message to the other employees in the firm? I doubt it.

    I've come across this type myself in the past. Set a very firm boundary in pleasant but firm manner. He is inappropriate.

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    Originally Posted by LaHermes
    Rivoli.

    "Perhaps you can add me to your personal mobile, so we can talk about non-work related things".


    Does he send this type of message to the other employees in the firm? I doubt it.

    I've come across this type myself in the past. Set a very firm boundary in pleasant but firm manner. He is inappropriate.
    I don't know at all. We both started during "quarantine" - hence, I'm not sure of the nature of his interactions with other employees of the firm.

    He is indeed being inappropriate (regardless of his possible social anxiety/autism/lack of social skills). I'm not sure he is fully conscious of how inappropriate his request is as he does seem to severely lack social skills.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Is this bothering you to the extent that you can't focus on your work? You seem very disturbed which is also natural. You have to learn to overlook things like this despite it being unprofessional and inappropriate. Deal with it at the basic level and then if it continues escalate it or report it to your superior.

    Document the incidents or write down the dates and nature of the incidents if you have to if it continues. Don't let this unravel you at your new position.

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    Gold Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    "Harry, I don't want to talk about any non-work related things with you. No offense, mate."

  11. #10
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RuedeRivoli
    He really reminds me of a child which makes it difficult for me to find an appropriate response.
    The appropriate response is to be clear, professional, and polite about the fact that you prefer to limit your relationship with him to only work-related matters.

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