The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 26, 2013

Your Office Coach: Do as co-worker asks - just leave him alone

Question: What can I do about a co-worker who has decided he doesn’t like me? For the last two years, “Matt“ has been disdainful and dismissive whenever I try to talk to him. Recently, after I attempted to start a conversation, he loudly said, “This girl keeps trying to get me to talk to her. I wish she would just leave me alone!“

Since we don’t have to work together, I took the hint and stopped speaking to him. However, I would still like to clear the air. I wish I could just let this go, but it would be nice to be able to say “good morning“ without worrying about Matt’s bad attitude. How should I approach him?

Answer: Given that you have no work-related reason for communicating with Matt, I think it’s time you got the message. After two years of rebuffing your attempts at friendly conversation, he has now explicitly told you to leave him alone. So please just do as he asks.

Since you seem to be an outgoing, sociable person, Matt’s indifference undoubtedly hurts your feelings. However, you must try to understand that some people simply have no desire to engage in social chit-chat at work. The more you try to be chummy, the more Matt will push you away.

If the two of you worked on the same team or collaborated on projects, that would be quite different. Under those circumstances, learning to adapt to each other’s work styles would be extremely important. But since you and this guy have no occupational connection, you might as well treat him as he wishes to be treated.

Q: I have been a firefighter for 13 years, and I also have ADHD. I went into firefighting after reading an article that said it was a good career choice for someone like me. Unfortunately, that writer was wrong, because I hate every aspect of this work.

If someone gave me a choice between a million dollars and a new job, I would immediately take the new job. I believe my personality is better suited to information technology, but that might require going back to school, which could be difficult. Any suggestions?

A: Changing professions in mid-career can be challenging, but if you hate this job as much as you say, then you need to formulate an escape plan. Since you’re certain you want to leave, but not quite sure where you want to go, talking with a career counselor would be a good first step.

A qualified counselor can offer assessments and exercises to help identify both your occupational interests and preferred working conditions. Although your attraction to information technology may be a useful clue, you should investigate a variety of options to avoid making another hasty mistake.

With a major career change, a “stepping stone“ approach is often advisable. To move toward a more technological role, for example, you might initially transition into some technical aspect of firefighting or fire prevention. This is usually more realistic than trying to switch fields with one big leap.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.“ Send in questions and get free coaching tips at, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.

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