My kind senior colleague treats me coldly now

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 20s. I work for a company, and this is my third year there. I’m worried about a senior colleague’s cold attitude toward me.

She was very kind to me when I started working at the company. However, around the time my second year started, she began taking a more severe attitude toward me. For about the last six months, she’s been cold to me almost every day.

We eat lunch together. During that time, she’s always playing around with her cell phone. When I talk to her, she just responds tersely. She doesn’t even look at my face. At work, she sometimes tosses documents over to me and doesn’t respond when I talk to her.

Our department has a small staff. As there are no bosses or colleagues who joined the company at the same time as I did, I have no one to discuss this matter with and ask for advice. When I’m with this senior colleague alone, I’m so scared I sometimes feel sick.

She isn’t the type of person who behaves that way for no reason. So I’m probably to blame. When I joined the company, I sometimes depended on her too much. I may have offended her without realizing it.

Is there any good way to mend our relation even a little bit?

E, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. E:

One solution is to ask her directly, by saying: “Was I by any chance impolite to you? If so, will you let me know, please. I’ll correct it.” However, if you say this, it seems likely she will just reply coldly, “Nothing in particular.”

Another solution is not to mind her behavior. Your letter is filled with remarks that reproach yourself and justify her attitude, such as “I’m probably to blame,” “I depended on her too much” and “I may have offended her without realizing it.” But I think this is not always the case.

It’s possible she is to blame. Or it may just stem from her personality. She was kind to you at first, but she probably overdid it and made herself appear too nice to you. As time went by and she became used to being with you, she may have begun to reveal her true character.

Of course, there may be other reasons. Take some time to try and find them. But to begin with, consider it to be her problem. I think it’ll make you feel at ease.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Oct. 25, 2015, issue)Speech

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