Currently, as part of my work, I come into proximity with a lot of people (via getting food, to being at some company-wide meeting, or just at a mutual work friend's party), some of whom I do not like (as in, I do not like what their personality is like, so, it's not something they can actively change) and try actively to avoid, making sure to stay away from locations they're in and placing myself in environments which I know he will prefer to avoid (such as being with friends or in a location he never visits). However, owing to my work, from time to time I do encounter him, and he often asks the question, "Is everything okay, are you avoiding me?" (or questions to that effect).

In order to seem polite, I tell him that it's just coincidence we haven't seen each other for a while and that I've just been busy elsewhere for the time. Is this the correct approach? Or should I try to tell him that I am avoiding him or break it to him some other way that I do not enjoy his company?

(A bit more background: I do not have to work with this person on a regular basis, and he is not a massive inconvenience to avoid, but when I do see/meet him it is awkward to try and think of a way out of this situation. I, myself, can get easily agitated by certain people and feel a lot of discomfort in their presence. It's not necessary for me to see him at all, but he feels as though we need to (no idea why, he just does). I'm a polite person, and hate deliberately causing someone discomfort, which is probably why I haven't shut him down since his first attempts to strike up conversation with me. We first talked after one party, and as I grew to know him more I found that I actually disliked his personality more and more.)

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    Why you actually avoid him just because of that? Any specific reasons why you can't keep it professional?
    – dhein
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:26
  • 1
    @GregoryAvery-Weir It's not really something he can control, it's more the type of person it is, thanks for pointing that out though I have edited the question. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:26
  • Well in a workspace it might not turn out good to directly confront someone that you don't like him. I would suggest that be nice and try to ignore politely. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:28
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    What's the nature of the relationship? Basically, do you know each other through work, or have you known each other before that? What about him makes you want to avoid him?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:29
  • 1
    Isn't avoiding someone the opposite of interpersonal skills?
    – user2921
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 14:28

6 Answers 6


It sounds like you're trying unsuccessfully to avoid him without him noticing and that your goal is infeasible. I'd pick which you'd prefer: occasionally interacting with him or having him know that you're avoiding him.

Right now, he seems to suspect you're avoiding him but isn't sure, which is probably a worse situation for both of you than either of the options above.

If you'd prefer him to be ignorant, you'll probably have to interact with him at least a bit when you coincidentally meet. It's fine to limit that interaction to what's professional: hello, goodbye, not offering or requesting much detail in small talk. Being courteous but not welcoming will probably discourage him from spending extra time near you.

If you're willing to let him know you're avoiding him, you have one very difficult interaction ahead of you. I think honesty may help. Tell him that you feel like his personality clashes with yours and that you get stressed talking to him. You don't need to explain why. It won't be easy, but I suspect it'll be better than you worrying about whether he's constantly trying to confront you.


Is this the correct approach?

In my point of view, it is the right thing.

If you directly tell him that you don't like him or you want to avoid him, the relation will be finished forever.

But if you handle the situation like as you do now, in future, if you are in need of any kind of help from him, you can easily ask it without any issues.

Keeping relationship is an important thing even with the people you didn't like

  • Golden advice!!, but still you haven't told objectively, as to how to deal with the situation
    – Annonymus
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 15:33

Is this person only a colleague? From your post, it reads as though he's taking your masked avoidance a bit personally, which is odd for someone who you only work in the same office with. It's possible he's interested in being friends or more with you and has maybe read too much into whatever previous interactions you have had - especially if you're a woman who is very polite/friendly.

Assuming he is truly only a colleague (and that you don't need anything from him professionally), you might consider the next time you run into him, and he asks if you've been avoiding him, pointing out that it makes you uncomfortable that he keeps asking you about why he doesn't see you more often. Sending the message that you come to the office to work and not to socialize should get him to at the very least stop asking why you don't run into each other more often.


This is a weird social hack that I learned a long time ago, and it's pretty effective.

Just engage in normal conversation with the guy, but add about a second-and-a-half pause between your impulse to talk and your actual reply.

This makes the conversation awkward, but not in a way that the other party can really put a finger on, or fault you for. You'll find that the other person will go a couple conversational rounds, and then make a beeline for the door. Do this a few times, and he'll just not have the desire to initiate contact anymore.

Odd, but it works.

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    Interesting but I'm not sure I can personally visualise how that would work...could you point to a YouTube video of that? Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 18:49

I would not give the person the information that I dislike their personality and feel uncomfortable in their presence. It is my right / your right to avoid anybody without explaining why, even to a direct question such as "are you avoiding me" -- body language and tone of voice will tell the full story.

It is admittedly more difficult if the person is in an authority position or has some actual or potential 'hold' over you, but in such cases, I have worked towards reducing my dependence on having to interact with such a person. To their question "are you avoiding me" I should reply "not at all" but my tone would convey otherwise.

Please understand that Indian society (where I come from) is somewhat oblique in such matters and what we don't say is just as loud as what we do. This might explain the answer of Sagar V and the comment of one other user [Arpit S].

It seems the culture in Australia/ Europe/ UK/ USA could well be franker and much more straightforward in telling the person outright (but maybe politely) that their personality makes you uncomfortable, which is the reason for your avoidance. Here we tend to give an insincere reply that its own tone contradicts; give them the full freeze; keep right on avoiding them just as much as feasible; and let them work it out for themselves.


No, it is not the correct approach to lie continuously.

Imagine that you are finding out by coincidence that a person whom you trust secretly despises you. What is your reaction?

Imagine that you get continuously negative emotional feedback but positive verbal feedback. Could you understand that it feels like one of Kafka's novel?

If the person whom you do not like seems to need to ask the question if you avoid him, it seems pointless to hope that the person will get the clue without intervention. And the need to ask seems to show that he finds you an interesting person, so by continuously avoiding him, he may even find you more interesting because it is so rare to meet you! If you continue, you will very likely find that the situation only gets worse. And the reason that you ask this question here means that it bothers you and you cannot ignore it anymore.

Sagar's point is manipulative: [...] in future, if you are in need of any kind of help from him, you can easily ask it without any issues. People do not like being used as a tool or handy help.

I think the best option is to find someone who you like and is liked by the other person, too (or at least knows the person very well). Choose wisely. Then tell that his personality clashes with yours and that it is very, very hard for you with your politeness to confront him. I think after venting some steam it will be much easier for you to relax a bit.

Then either tell him (at best with the trusted person) that you in fact (which is an understandable white lie) did avoid him, but you only realized that a while after the question and that it is an extreme discomfort for you to tell people. No fluff: No "I hope we will be friends" or that you like parts of him (if you don't). You do not need to like him, but be respectful. The sooner, the better.

Yes, the person will be unhappy, but it's no use to avoid the unavoidable. And there are situations where politeness is insufficient and you need to set boundaries and this is one of them.


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