interpreting workplace standoffishness

Anonymous said to :

Question about a common problem @ work: Sometimes “normal” (not really) people are distant, unfriendly, or even rude because they’re busy or not interested in being friendly. Sometimes they’re like that b/c they have a problem with you and they’re being cooly polite to cover it up.

As an autistic person, how can I tell the difference between a person who is unfriendly but has no ill intentions; versus a person who is unfriendly because there’s a problem?

This has caused me big problems at work.

realsocialskills said:

You can’t always tell, but there are a couple of approaches that work some of the time:

One way is to watch how they are with other people. Are they also cool and abrupt with others, or is it mostly directed just at you? If it’s mostly directed at you, they are probably annoyed with you specifically.

Another way is to ask other people who you work with. Are there people at work who you know like you, and who you get along well with? If so, you might be able to ask them, and they might know what’s going on. Eg:

  • “I feel like I’m offending Bob a lot. Do you think I am, or am I misreading something?”

Another possibility is asking the person. This can backfire and isn’t always a good idea, but sometimes talking to someone directly can go a long way towards solving the problem. Eg:

  • You: I feel like I’m annoying you a lot. Is there something you’d like me to do differently?
  • Them: It’s really annoying when people chat at me while I’m trying to concentrate. Could you keep it to work related things when it’s not lunch time?

Also, there’s a blog called Ask a Manager that you might want to read. It has a lot of really good posts on workplace culture and how to manage conflicts with coworkers.

Anyone else want to weigh in? How do you tell the difference between people who are just generally distant, vs people who have a problem with you in particular?