If you are being actively ignored at work by one of your coworkers, then this is probably their way of drawing attention to something that they blame you for. Or, in a very indirect way, to show that they are intimidated by you.
The best way to deal with a coworker who is actively ignoring you is to have a private conversation with them. Explain that you are feeling ignored by them in a polite and respectful way. Listen to their grievances if they have any. Clear and honest communication is essential for teamwork.
It is absolutely understandable if you feel uncomfortable because of their behavior. Especially if you are not entirely sure what led to all of this in the first place.
You might feel stressed out because at any time the situation could escalate and turn into a conflict.
What is important here is to keep calm and take the time to think about the situation.
Luckily, I have seen plenty of uncomfortable situations and conflicts on the job during my 10 years or so as an office worker.
So here are the best tips and advice that I can give you on how to deal with coworkers who ignore you.
Table of Contents
1. Stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions just yet
Have you considered the fact that something else might be going on with your colleague?
Perhaps they are going through difficult times. Maybe they have problems at work or at home.
Maybe they have been very busy recently. Or perhaps they are experiencing occupational burnout.
The point is, don’t jump to a conclusion just yet about why they are ignoring you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
And by the way, have you considered the possibility that your coworker is ignoring you because they feel somewhat threatened by you?
As I like to say, always assume good intentions. Then think of the next possible step.
2. Embrace a proactive role to resolve the issue
If you are feeling a bit hurt or downright angry, you might be thinking to just ignore back your colleague.
Or you might be waiting for them to make the first step. Which, in my opinion, will only perpetuate the cycle of “ignoring and hurt feelings’ – so I advise you to take a proactive approach.
Besides, bad feelings in the workplace are not conducive to great work. It is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
So take it upon yourself to resolve the situation, especially if it is bringing you stress, anxiety, and bad thoughts.
3. Think about your recent interactions
Sit down and take a deep breath. Think about the most recent times when you spoke to your colleague.
What about any group meetings or conference calls that you had together? Can you pick up anything out of the ordinary?
Did you have a particular exchange that might have led to them ignoring you?
Just think for a while and consider all the possibilities. Write them down if you have to.
Perhaps you will be able to pinpoint a possible reason for this unusual behavior. For example, is there a chance that you were rude to your coworker at some point?
4. Conduct controlled interactions to see how they react
In order to be absolutely certain that your colleague is indeed ignoring you on purpose, you can try to approach them carefully for some work-related matter.
This way you will be able to observe their reaction and determine if their behavior is abnormal.
You can go for something like “Hey, how are your projects going?” or “Can you please tell me about X, Y, and Z?”
Surely you will be able to pick up on any negativity.
If your colleague gives you a cold vague answer or seems downright annoyed or angry, then they are probably indeed ignoring you on purpose.
Do your best to see how the person interacts with other colleagues. Perhaps they are acting like this with everybody, not just you.
Observe your colleague carefully during the next few workdays when given a chance to see if this behavior continues.
On another note, if you are frustrated because you have a crush on your coworker but they are ignoring you, then you can take a look at our guide on how to ask them out on a date without making it awkward.
5. Determine if you should pursue a resolution
If you confirm with certainty that you are indeed being ignored by the colleague in question, then here is what you need to do next.
While the situation is truly unpleasant, stop for a moment and consider if a resolution is really necessary.
For example, if your work is somehow connected to the person who is ignoring you, then indeed it would be best for you to seek some form of resolution.
After all, your work and your productivity are somewhat connected.
However, if you are not all that involved with this particular colleague and your work is somewhat independent of theirs, then you have the freedom not to pursue a resolution of the situation.
Unless of course you are somewhat burdened by the knowledge that there are negative emotions at play and you would like to get to the bottom of this. In which case…
6. What to do if you decide to confront them
Ask the coworker who ignores you to meet privately. Pick a place where you will be alone so you can talk undisturbed by other colleagues.
When you finally get the chance to talk privately, remember to stay calm and respectful at all times.
Perhaps your colleague will know what is up so they might be a little defensive and stressed out about this entire ordeal.
Start by thanking them to meet you like this and jump straight to the point. Don’t beat around the bush with small talk because this might confuse them and stress them out even further.
Tell them that you have noticed that they seem to ignore you and/or harbor some negativity towards you. Ask them if your observations are correct.
Then give the person the chance to talk and explain themselves. Don’t interrupt them.
No matter what they tell you, stay calm and collected. Don’t object to anything they say.
What is important here is to truly listen to the person so that they would feel heard and understood.
Hear out their grievances and do your best to apologize if it turns out that you are at fault about something.
Ask them if they are able to forgive you and if they think that you will be able to work together.
7. They just don’t like you. Now what?
I hope that you will be able to resolve your situation and reach a positive conclusion.
But sometimes this is not the case. We can’t have good interactions with all the people we meet during the course of our lives. And this applies to some of our colleagues as well.
If the person has set their mind on simply ignoring you as best as they can, then let them be if that is a possibility.
However, if this is detrimental to your work and damaging to your company, then it is time to have a conversation with your boss or a member of HR because it is a clear sign that you have a toxic coworker at hand.
Ignoring a colleague just because you don’t like them is not professional. Therefore, this person needs to answer for their unprofessional behavior.
And if you are certain that this person is trying to sabotage you by ignoring you, then you can check my post on how to deal with a coworker who is trying to get you fired.
How to deal with coworkers who ignore you
Dealing with coworkers who ignore you collectively is an entirely different situation.
Being ostracized at work can have many negative consequences for you. Your mental well-being and your work performance might suffer greatly.
If you are being the victim of some kind of targeting, then you should take immediate action.
Talk to your boss and talk to a member of HR and explain the situation.
I hate to say it but if this behavior continues and your company culture allows it, then it would be best for you to seek a job alternative.
However, if you are not entirely sure why all of a sudden your colleagues started to ignore you, then take a moment to reflect on the recent days and weeks at work.
Have you done something so bad that would trigger an entire group of people to team up against you like this?
Consider what could have brought such a reaction from your colleagues and observe their behavior in the following workdays.
If you are on good terms with somebody at your office, ask them if they know what is going on. Perhaps they will be able to offer some explanation. And by the way, you can see our complete blog series on handling difficult coworkers.
In case you have exhausted all possible options, you can consider confronting one of the colleagues who are ignoring you. If it comes to this, simply refer to the steps I have provided above in the previous section.
- Being ignored by coworkers can be detrimental to your work and mental well-being.
- Do your best to understand what brought this behavior in the first place.
- Remember to always stay polite and respectful with your colleagues when discussing the matter.
- If you are being targeted or sabotaged, take immediate action and talk to your boss/member of HR.
- A coworker who ignores you can be a sign of over-narcissism. Find out how to spot a narcissist at work.