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Me, my job and my coworkers


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Hi, I hope you all are doing well.

It has been a really long time since I last posted here. A lot of things have happened to me in this time. Some of them good, some of them bad. However, I feel like right now I am in a better place, overall, than the last time I wrote here.

Before posting this, I have spent some time rereading the few posts I made all those years ago. It is kind of funny to see now how I actually got to do some of the things you recommended me to help me get through certain situations, but in other areas I still find myself in a similar place.

Which is what has made me return here for some wisdom.

One of the things I have struggled with is when it comes to getting to know people. I am kind of introspective and I don’t usually talk a lot. I have never been very talkative, with almost anybody. I also feel really awkward when I am with a lot of people. Specially when I don’t know them. It takes me a long time to feel comfortable around new persons. But, at the end of the day, I like being with people. I like to hear what they have to say and getting to know them.

After what I consider to be a turmoil phase in my life, I started to work in a completely new profession, and it has gone quite well to me. Almost a year ago, I started in a new workplace. I had never been in a place with such a good environment between the coworkers. There is a really good feeling among them. As it is usual, at the beginning I didn’t feel comfortable around them. The first times they used to hang out after work I didn’t go because I thought it would be best to give me more time with them before joining them.

However, this last few months I have been going more to these afterwork reunions. I still don’t talk a lot, but I am there, enjoying their company. And I honestly do.

But I am not too sure they enjoy being around me. Or they get the feeling that I don’t enjoy being around them. See, I have been getting some comments that puzzles me. Comments like “Do we bore you?”.

Last Friday we went out to dinner, and had some drinks afterwards, because one of the coworkers was leaving the business. In fact, today has been her last day. Some group pictures were taken.

Today, the same person that said the comment above has showed one of those photos, zoomed in to me and said something like “Please, get me out of this hell”. Maybe it has just been a harmless joke. But there has also been some more things that have discouraged me. And quite a lot.

I have always suffered from bad body odor. I have visited some dermatologists in my life, but with no success. Right now I am trying a new treatment. I never lose hope to improve the situation.

I know it’s annoying to the people around me. Specially in summer, when it gets intensified. And I am very sorry for this… But I just can’t control it. Yet.

What baffles me, to put it mildly, is to hear people around me making fun of the situation. They never say anything directly to me. It is always indirect comments. Like "does it smell kind of bad in here?". Or something like this. Of course I always get the hints… Then again, another person today has made an indirect joke about this. And I have felt like total ***. And tried my best to be cool. However...

Do they think I don’t know about my problem?

Do they and they just don’t care enough about this?

Even if I am not the most sociable person in the world, I think I am nice and kind to people. I never talk badly to them. I like to help them as much as I can. I always speak softly and calmly. The other day one of them said that I had been very good with this person that has had to leave the workplace. And you know what? I do also think I have been. And also to a lot of them.

So, why do they act like this? I don’t think they are jerks or something like this. Not by a long shot.

There is something they don’t like about me. I am too old to keep thinking that not being talkative, or being shy or introspective is a bad thing. I do genuinely think there is something about me they don’t like. And I am clueless as to what it may be.

Should I be more outwards towards them? Am I overthinking thing too much? What are your opinions?

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I recommend socializing with people you don't work with. You're spending way too much time with this group when there's a whole big world out there full of people you don't have to see all day, every workday.

What are your interests? Join a group that specializes in whatever it is you're interested in, whether it's photography, music, cooking, hiking, etc.

As for the odor issue, is it a medical condition? What is the condition and what can be done to treat it?

And yes, people can sometimes be insensitive. My sister in law is overweight. A lot overweight. Like, at least 90 pounds overweight. And people seem to like to tell her she's overweight like she isn't aware of it. She finally put out a Facebook post that basically said "Yes, I am well aware I'm fat. I really don't need people to point it out to me. Please stop." 

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Thank you for your answer.

Maybe I have overstated something: we don't reunite afterwork on a daily basis. Or even on a weekly basis. Maybe once or twice in a month.

My social life has always resumed to a bunch of friends. I am content having a few but really good friends. Some years ago, following the advise of someone around here, I did exactly what you have suggested: looking for people with similar tastes to my own. I made some new friends, and I made a specially strong connection with one of them. He has been a bless.

As for my issue, no doctor has ever diagnosed anything in specific. There are some clinical conditions I have read online, but I feel uneasy believing everything I read on the internet.

I have tried different kinds of soaps, like atopic ones and others similar to germicidal soaps. I have also tried to stop, or reduced, eating spicy meals, red meat, onions or other foods that can produce smelly sweat. However, nothing has worked yet.

As for people being insensitive... I am sorry to read what your sister in law had to go through. Did they stop making those comments after she posted that on FB? I am afraid of the uncomfortable situation it may cause if I ever say anything back. As I have said, they are not jerks. They are genuine nice people.

So why say those things? Just to get a laugh? Is it because they don't like me? I can't pretend to be liked by everyone, I know that, but in any case... I don't know. No one is perfect. But I don't think I am a bad person either. I may have done something they didn't like without me realizing so. Or I may have a certain attitude I am not aware of that they don't appreciate. I just don't know.

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I would say something funny back. Like "Hm, yeah, I did notice there seems to be a lot of hot air nearby." 

Do you know if your facial expressions are easily readable? I personally have a big problem hiding what I'm thinking. If I think someone's an asshat it tends to show on my face. So maybe you look ill at ease or uncomfortable? You may have to practice smiling or having a pleasant look on your face. Yes, that may sound silly but I've had to do it when people were noticing my "jeez, you're an asshat!" expression.

I think my sister in law got some apologies and some people knew it was them but they just shut up about it. You can't be 250 pounds and not know it. They should have known better. She has a beautiful singing voice but I guess being amazingly talented wasn't enough for some people!

I would suggest you continue with joining groups and attending events for things that interest you. For example, I love cars so I go to a lot of car shows and racing events. I never fail to have conversations with people even though I almost always attend these events alone. Try it!

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Some people just produce bad body odor. Aside of taking care of personal hygiene more frequently and maybe some stuff like very good deodorant or perfume I dont think there is too much you can do.

Anyway, are you sure you are not just projecting? Dont get me wrong, I am sure your coworkers dont help with the issue. But lots of times insecure people assume a lot about how others percieve them. And think lots of negatives because they dont see themselves in positive light. For example I am pretty sure you wouldnt get invited to hang out with your coworkers if they are that negative about you.

Also, how engaged in a conversation are you? Because "Do we bore you?" comment implies that they dont think you are that engaged in conversations. Also do you talk about yourself? Do you have something interesting to talk with them that you both enjoy? Do you find them interesting aside of just hanging out with them? It's not just about finding a crowd to hang out, its about finding the right crowd.

Also, having a confidence to go there and even having a conversation is a skill you must practice. So, take your time to build that. Not just with that crowd. Do you have some other crowd you hang aside of work people?

Also, also, do you really should care? As you get to know a lot of people, you will find out not everyone would like you. I have people I have been good with that dont like me from one reason or another. And that is fine. Not everyone should like you. Heck I would be worried if some people I met through life did like me. Some people are just jerks. Some are good. That is the beauty of you choosing who you interact with. If you dont enjoy their company or you think they dont particularly enjoy yours, dont hang around them and find somebody who will enjoy you. 

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No solutions just big big *solidarity fistbumps* for the struggle of wanting to fit in socially at work and feeling like you’re failing it. 
 

Echoing the wisdom I have received every time I’ve posted about this; work isn’t for making friends. So make sure you’re investing in your friendships and life out of work. 
 

Having said that. If you want to strengthen the threads that bind you to your co workers, you could make it a gentle mission to occasionally ask them questions about themselves. Maybe you just ask how they’re going when you see them. Or what plant they would be if they were a plant? Or you could ask if they prefer marvel or DC (and if they’re like ‘I don’t watch movies’ great, the next question is ‘do you prefer tv or music?’ It’ll probably be music.) People get a little dopamine hit when they talk about themselves so if you low key facilitate that, they’ll associate talking to you with feeling good. Bonus, you get to learn things about them. Like the kid that didn’t watch movies? Now I know his top three music genres are worship music, gospel and rnb 🙂

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16 hours ago, boltnrun said:

I would say something funny back. Like "Hm, yeah, I did notice there seems to be a lot of hot air nearby." 

Do you know if your facial expressions are easily readable? I personally have a big problem hiding what I'm thinking. If I think someone's an asshat it tends to show on my face. So maybe you look ill at ease or uncomfortable? You may have to practice smiling or having a pleasant look on your face. Yes, that may sound silly but I've had to do it when people were noticing my "jeez, you're an asshat!" expression.

I think my sister in law got some apologies and some people knew it was them but they just shut up about it. You can't be 250 pounds and not know it. They should have known better. She has a beautiful singing voice but I guess being amazingly talented wasn't enough for some people!

I would suggest you continue with joining groups and attending events for things that interest you. For example, I love cars so I go to a lot of car shows and racing events. I never fail to have conversations with people even though I almost always attend these events alone. Try it!

I think I can be very expressive if I get caught off guard. Lucky for me, I tend to look at everyone with positive eyes. Even if they do something I don't like, I don't judge them negatively. I could practice a smile, but I also think it wouldn't look natural.

Maybe I could look for new groups of persons to keep improving my social abilities.

15 hours ago, Kwothe28 said:

Some people just produce bad body odor. Aside of taking care of personal hygiene more frequently and maybe some stuff like very good deodorant or perfume I dont think there is too much you can do.

Anyway, are you sure you are not just projecting? Dont get me wrong, I am sure your coworkers dont help with the issue. But lots of times insecure people assume a lot about how others percieve them. And think lots of negatives because they dont see themselves in positive light. For example I am pretty sure you wouldnt get invited to hang out with your coworkers if they are that negative about you.

Also, how engaged in a conversation are you? Because "Do we bore you?" comment implies that they dont think you are that engaged in conversations. Also do you talk about yourself? Do you have something interesting to talk with them that you both enjoy? Do you find them interesting aside of just hanging out with them? It's not just about finding a crowd to hang out, its about finding the right crowd.

Also, having a confidence to go there and even having a conversation is a skill you must practice. So, take your time to build that. Not just with that crowd. Do you have some other crowd you hang aside of work people?

Also, also, do you really should care? As you get to know a lot of people, you will find out not everyone would like you. I have people I have been good with that dont like me from one reason or another. And that is fine. Not everyone should like you. Heck I would be worried if some people I met through life did like me. Some people are just jerks. Some are good. That is the beauty of you choosing who you interact with. If you dont enjoy their company or you think they dont particularly enjoy yours, dont hang around them and find somebody who will enjoy you. 

I have tried a lot of deodorants. As for perfume, it is in my experience that it only makes things worse.

I guess you have a point when you say that I could very well not be invited at all. They could have a separate group to do things behind my back. It is also true that when that person knew she was leaving the company, she approached me to tell me that March was going to be her last month, and that she didn't want me to find out from another person.

And yes, I am an insecure person.

I don't engage too much. I don't talk a lot about myself either. The only thing I know we have in common is the work. I guess it is a matter of finding the few things we may have in common.

I have a separate group of friends, with whom I could practice some more talking.

6 hours ago, 1a1a said:

No solutions just big big *solidarity fistbumps* for the struggle of wanting to fit in socially at work and feeling like you’re failing it. 

Echoing the wisdom I have received every time I’ve posted about this; work isn’t for making friends. So make sure you’re investing in your friendships and life out of work. 

Having said that. If you want to strengthen the threads that bind you to your co workers, you could make it a gentle mission to occasionally ask them questions about themselves. Maybe you just ask how they’re going when you see them. Or what plant they would be if they were a plant? Or you could ask if they prefer marvel or DC (and if they’re like ‘I don’t watch movies’ great, the next question is ‘do you prefer tv or music?’ It’ll probably be music.) People get a little dopamine hit when they talk about themselves so if you low key facilitate that, they’ll associate talking to you with feeling good. Bonus, you get to learn things about them. Like the kid that didn’t watch movies? Now I know his top three music genres are worship music, gospel and rnb 🙂

Thanks for the fistbumps! I know work is not for making friends. But I like working in a good environtment, and resent the feeling that I might be the one who changes the general mood.

I'll try to make some small talk to them when I find them in the cafeteria.

Thank you all for your help.

I have lots of things in my head. I sometimes wonder how being socially awkward and not talkative could affect my working efforts. Could I be laid off if I don't get along too much with my coworkers? Could my body odor be a reason for ending my contract? Moreover, when I change to another workplace, should I mention my problem beforehand?

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2 minutes ago, judder86 said:

Moreover, when I change to another workplace, should I mention my problem beforehand?

No, no! Do not mention this in interviews. Just make sure you're freshly showered and use antiperspirant/deodorant and maybe a nice, subtle body spray.

No, you cannot be laid off for not being social enough. How is that relevant to how well you do your job?

I used to work with someone who had extreme body odor. She did not get laid off, instead someone from HR politely talked to her. Turned out she was living in her car and didn't have access to a shower. The nice HR lady worked with her to get a gym membership so she could go there to shower.

And yes, small talk is a nice way to be friendly without overdoing it. A simple greeting and maybe a non-invasive question such as "are you still working on X project?" No need to plaster a big grin on your face but a smile while greeting is adequate.

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On 3/31/2022 at 4:53 PM, judder86 said:

Am I overthinking thing too much?

It's possible that you are overthinking. I can see comments like these being made as an attempt to prod you out of your shell--especially when it's the same person and they're saying it to your face:

On 3/31/2022 at 4:53 PM, judder86 said:

I have been getting some comments that puzzles me. Comments like “Do we bore you?”.

...

Today, the same person that said the comment above has showed one of those photos, zoomed in to me and said something like “Please, get me out of this hell”. Maybe it has just been a harmless joke.

From your description, it sounds like your coworkers are making an effort to include you. Enjoy it. Let them be your friends.

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I appreciate the efforts to include me if that is so. But, then again, why make those comments about my condition? They are mostly made by the same persons.

I just remembered something else that happened to me a few weeks ago. We have an inner chat we mostly use to talk about the tasks we have to do every day, and to resolve any doubt. A fellow coworker, who happens to be the same person who has just recently left the company, was asking me some things. I was answering them as best as I could. One of those questions started with:

“I know this may sound stupid haha…” and proceded with the doubt.

I answered “I don’t see why this is a stupid question, just ask”.

That person kept asking me more things. I decided to answer them in person. When I got close to her I started answering the last one. She said something like:

“The questions are not stupid, I am the stupid one…”. I answered something like “that was not my conclusion at all”.

Another person who was close by said all of a sudden, calling me by my name “We are really going to miss you”. I was puzzled by this remark. I could only think of three options:

1. I am going to be fired and I still don’t know.

2. They were making fun of something I said to that person who has left the workplace. When she told me she was leaving, I said “You are going to be missed”.

3. They were talking in the case I someday leave, they are simply going to miss me.

I am very bad at reading other people’s signs. I know you are going to say that I overthink things too much. I won’t say it is not true. I just want to get along with my coworkers.

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1 hour ago, judder86 said:

“I know this may sound stupid haha…” and proceded with the doubt.

I answered “I don’t see why this is a stupid question, just ask”.

That person kept asking me more things. I decided to answer them in person. When I got close to her I started answering the last one. She said something like:

“The questions are not stupid, I am the stupid one…”. I answered something like “that was not my conclusion at all”.

This is just one of those conversational phrases and you took it too far and the person felt uncomfortable.  I try to make people feel comfortable in their own skin when I interact with them.  Especially at work.  And you were quite formal and technical at the end of this interaction which is off putting.  Your goal was to be "right" and point out how she was mistaken as opposed to going with the flow/focusing on having her feel comfortable in her own skin while interacting with you.  Reading social cues takes practice and work can be challenging because you want to be friendly but not too personal, etc.  

Example where I misread:  we had a secretary who worked with us briefly. I asked her to send me a pdf of a long document which might not have worked via email.  But it did -she was able to do it! So as a little joke I replied that I received it, appreciated it and "hadn't read the whole thing quite yet" (obvious joke - I'm sure I included an lol or emoji -it was hundreds of pages of information and not meant to be read in its entirety). 

Because she was new at our office this apparently scared her and she replied something like "oh! I didn't mean you had to read it! I just wanted to make sure you received it!).  From then on I knew never ever to be the slighest bit jokey with her - especially on email.  I was shocked at her response but it's work so I do what makes people feel comfortable.  

You don't have to interact with your coworkers other than professionally but I'd lighten up a bit and I'd keep searching for ways to resolve your body odor issue.  Especially in a work situation there are people who are highly sensitive to odors/smells (not your fault, not something they can control just like you can't yet control your issue) and it's hard to work around someone with that odor.  

Edited by Batya33
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28 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

This is just one of those conversational phrases and you took it too far and the person felt uncomfortable.  I try to make people feel comfortable in their own skin when I interact with them.  Especially at work.  And you were quite formal and technical at the end of this interaction which is off putting.  Your goal was to be "right" and point out how she was mistaken as opposed to going with the flow/focusing on having her feel comfortable in her own skin while interacting with you.  Reading social cues takes practice and work can be challenging because you want to be friendly but not too personal, etc.  

Example where I misread:  we had a secretary who worked with us briefly. I asked her to send me a pdf of a long document which might not have worked via email.  But it did -she was able to do it! So as a little joke I replied that I received it, appreciated it and "hadn't read the whole thing quite yet" (obvious joke - I'm sure I included an lol or emoji -it was hundreds of pages of information and not meant to be read in its entirety). 

Because she was new at our office this apparently scared her and she replied something like "oh! I didn't mean you had to read it! I just wanted to make sure you received it!).  From then on I knew never ever to be the slighest bit jokey with her - especially on email.  I was shocked at her response but it's work so I do what makes people feel comfortable.  

You don't have to interact with your coworkers other than professionally but I'd lighten up a bit and I'd keep searching for ways to resolve your body odor issue.  Especially in a work situation there are people who are highly sensitive to odors/smells (not your fault, not something they can control just like you can't yet control your issue) and it's hard to work around someone with that odor.  

When I said "i don't think this is a stupid question" I tried to do just what you say. To make her feel comfortable. Obviously I failed. But my point wasn't being right. I work on technical / analytical things, while she is more of an account executive. She is in direct and constant contact with clients. She had some technical doubts about things which she didn't have to know.

Frankly, this thing about the odor is quite hard to resolve, for all that I know. Best case scenario, I minimize it. But summers are still going to be hard.

It is discouraging overall, and I already find myself dreading the fact that summer is just around the corner.

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My point is she said that as a phrase people throw around in a self-deprecating way and your response took it literally -too literally.  She said "ha ha" - I mean after the interaction it's fine to say offhandedly with a smile "oh and it wasn't stupid at all!"

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Well, let's see how things evolve during the coming month.

Frankly, up until these last two weeks I thought I was doing pretty well. But right now I see I was only fooling myself.

I'll try to be more conscious to everything I do and say, and observe the reactions I get. I may take some inputs from this.

I am also considering seeing a therapist.

One can't never be too sure about anything.

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4 hours ago, judder86 said:

Well, let's see how things evolve during the coming month.

Frankly, up until these last two weeks I thought I was doing pretty well. But right now I see I was only fooling myself.

I'll try to be more conscious to everything I do and say, and observe the reactions I get. I may take some inputs from this.

I am also considering seeing a therapist.

One can't never be too sure about anything.

I'd avoid the generalities about "never too sure" - it's not relevant or helpful to you.  No need to be laser focused on all you do and say.  Or to beat yourself up.  I'd simply keep things to professional interactions for now and if you go out socially do more listening and less talking.  

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Hello. I'd like to talk about a few things about this last week. I am still unsure as to how do my coworkers perceive me.

I have tried to reduce my interactions with them to the bare minimum. Answering as politely as I knew how to, and also not trying to make anything too personal.

Just some more random thoughts:

- I remembered something else that happened like two weeks ago. In my first post I talked about a dinner I had with them, because one of them was leaving the company. When we were in the restaurant, some of them asked the person who was leaving to do something, let's say, rather peculiar. She said no. She was pushed to do it (in a friendly way, I'd like to remark that there is a healthy relationship among them/us). She further declined. Then, all of a sudden, another person in the table said "If there is someone who can convince her, it is you (referring to me), because you have been very good with her". I didn't exactly know how to react to this. I answered something like "Nah, I am not that curious" (I never had the chance to see her do that "thing"). That same person replied something like "Yes, you are". And that was it. Those two comments were made by the very same person that made that out of the blue remark that "they would really miss me", I mentioned in another post. How should I interpret all of this?

- When someone has a dislike for a certain person, it seems to be harder to maintain eye contact. Well, they maintain eye contact with me. It may only be out of courtesy.

- The other day two coworkers saw that I was entering the building where we have the office, and they waited for me to get the elevator. They could have just gone up (it is only two floors, nothing too dramatic). I said "hey, thank you". And then kept my gaze on the floor. I don't know why in that specific moment I thought about my odor problem and felt embarrassed. One of them said something like "we are here to work", the other replied a simple "yes", in a mocking manner. Nothing harmful, but I understood what they meant...

I am still pretty discouraged. I am thinking about switching work. Something good about what I do is that I could find something 100% remote. Maybe that is the way for me, all things considered.

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Why do you automatically assume every single comment and interaction is negative?  It's astonishing how you can take the most innocent or offhand comment and turn it into that they're somehow insulting or dismissing you or are trying to put you down.

Why do you assume everyone dislikes you?  And you're going to quit a job over these imaginary insults?

Please, if you aren't already, arrange to seek therapy.  You're seeing something when nothing is there.

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That is some reality raincheck I may have needed to read.

The worst thing is that I can see that I have taken this attitude from one of my parents. I've seen firsthand what this does to a person, and to those around them.

I have always had my emotional ups and downs. When I was younger, those downs could very well last for weeks. These last years they have only lasted a few days at most... Until now.

I will try to be more positive overall. If I see I keep feeling down, I will seek a therapist as you suggest.

Thank you all for your honesty.

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