A letter from Ask A Manager:
I started working in this company four months ago. At my previous job, I had a very bad office climate with a horrible boss so I appreciated the relaxed climate here. Also, at this new company I am acquainted with quite a few people because we went to college together, so I expected a more friendly environment.
When I first started to work here, everyone was friendly and my colleagues from school invited me every day to go to lunch breaks with them. I am quite a friendly person so I enjoyed this socializing very much.
Fast forward four months. People from my office are still nice, but we never go anywhere together during lunch time. At one point, they told me they are used to going individually and use that time to do some errands or just unwind.
I am left with one coworker who is still willing to go to lunch together. My coworkers from college don’t even contact us anymore. If we make a suggestion to go somewhere together, they make some excuse and go alone.
I am quite confused by this change in behavior. At first I thought I did something wrong but I really don’t know what. And they really go all individually, so it’s not like they are only avoiding me. But still, I can’t shake this feeling of being isolated and rejected, and to be honest sometimes I feel really lonely, especially during lunch time. I would like to make more friends at work but nobody seems to be interested in socializing and I don’t want to seem desperate.
One of these colleagues was actually a good friend of mine and she also doesn’t call anymore and we are only like three offices apart. When I asked her once about this “lunch policy,” she told me that’s the way it’s done here and that she prefers to do some errands also.
What do you think I should do? Am I overreacting?
Work, in general, is always hard and terrible, so I’m so sorry that you’re not rich enough to not work. Because you were in a particularly horrible job before, you’d absolutely know changing to any job would fix this problem. The only two options existing here are: (1) You’re old horrible job; or (2) Any other job which by definition could never be horrible because it’s a New Job.
If colleagues want to be friendly, they have lunch with you every day. This is a universal rule from all religions. A friendly person can’t want to do other things with their lunch break. Any friend who does things with their time not involving you couldn’t be a true friend. Their wants involve you and your feelings, not theirs.
You say people in your office act nice. How nice could they be acting if they don’t have lunch with you? Several of them told you that they do things not involving work outside of lunch. Worse, those not work things don’t include you. If no one wants to be friends with each other and just act as coworkers, they’re horrible. Yet they can’t be horrible because only Old Horrible Job can be horrible. This is New Job.
Someone having wants that have nothing to do with you equals rejection. There can be no other explanation. If someone wants to run an errand at lunch, that denies your right to get what you want from their lunch.
To avoid overreacting or seeming desperate, continue asking daily about lunch. Bring up the idea of an occassional weekly or monthly lunch, but only as a ridiculous and terrible idea that not friendly people did at Old Horrible Job
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