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Context

I had this very good friend who told me a few days ago to stop any form of communication that is not work-related. Talking about the situation is not an option as she made it clear that she wants to cut ties completely. Even if I've been hurt by the rejection, I owe a lot to this person as her friendship significantly improved things for me while it lasted. I don't have any grudge against her and I don't think she's mad at me, she is just fed up with me. I think I relied too much on her for moral support.

About the friendship

Over the lasts months we spent several evenings talking, watching series and playing video games, at both our places. We also had a birthday party, had some activities and a lot of fun. We met because we had a common friend we both like a lot and because we both love video games. I've only called her once (and she didn't answer). We used to communicate a lot over emails and direct messages but I drastically reduced my output when she asked me to. I have some friends I communicate with far more often than with her and I never demanded anything from her or insisted when she didn't want to talk. And to clarify, I'm a male and no romance is involved.

Problem

I'm currently working next to this person and while I respect her choice, it makes me feel terribly uneasy to have to avoid all non-work related discussions that may happen in the workplace. And it's even worse for lunchtime or hanging out with colleagues as I don't want to be cut out of the team by always avoiding being at the same events at the same time. I'm doing my best but it makes my days incredibly more stressful than they should. Quitting is not an option and I have to stay with my other colleagues.

Question

My goal is to find a way out of this situation. I could talk to her but it's out of question because it would be disrespecting her will. I could talk to my manager but it would disclose the situation and I know it would be even more awkward for both of us. How can I approach this situation to make it easier for both of us?

Update/"Solved" somehow

I found out I was suffering from depression at that time. With some help I finally got out of it an even if I'm still very sad of losing such a great friend, I don't feel the same pain as before. If you never had to fight depression, like me before the events I had to endure this year, it can be pretty hard to spot what is wrong with you or why everything feels wrong or even why you can't think clearly. Get help, don't wait to lose your friends as you'll be keeping going more and more to them for moral support to the point of tiring them out. Get actual help, don't make my mistake.

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    What happened that caused your friend/colleague to want to avoid talking informally to you? That would be a factor in mitigating the damage from the falling-out. – user8671 Nov 23 '18 at 12:13
  • Not enough distance happened. I limited my communication but what I think was the last straw was inviting her over for playing video games (The last time I invited her was 4 months ago). – anon Nov 23 '18 at 12:25
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    I think Astralbee's answer is great but we could help more if we knew more about the friendship. For example: is this a work relationship and/or did it start that way? What level of friendship were you at before - you mentioned that the last straw was inviting her over to play video games when the last time you did so was 4 months ago - did you regularly do things outside of work? 2 meetings to play video games in 4 months is not exactly what I'd call a non-work relationship. Was your over-reliance through calls and texts outside of work hours? etc – Philbo Nov 23 '18 at 14:46
  • What I'm getting at is it's hard to help you "find a way out of the situation" when I'm not really sure what's been done to get you into it. Usually, it would take quite a lot for a very good friend to ask to basically end a friendship - especially since they're aware of what you're still going through with your mother and will have to live with the awkwardness of continuing to work together. – Philbo Nov 23 '18 at 14:49
  • Are you sure "only work related conversation" doesn't include chatting with co-workers in a group at work? Maybe she just means to quit contacting her outside of work, so this isn't actually the issue you think it is. – Kat Jan 3 at 0:59
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+100

If you absolutely cannot have a conversation with your ex-friend because she will not allow you to, then the only person you can speak to about it is your supervisor or manager.

You have not given much detail as to why your colleague may be "fed up" with you, or why they will not speak about anything but work. Assuming it is nothing serious that would actually bring your employment into question, she is being a little unreasonable. Sure, you can respect her request not to talk to her about anything not related to work, but if this is spilling over into group conversations such as at lunch breaks then she is actually harming your relationships with everybody else too. She cannot "ban" you from group conversations like that; that would be extremely unreasonable.

If you speak to your supervisor it should be to highlight the situation, to make them aware of it, so that they can monitor it. You could perhaps say:

I just want to make you aware of a situation. [Colleague] has a problem with me. I think I've made her feel uncomfortable which I certainly didn't mean to, but I've tried to put it right and she won't allow me to. She has asked me not to talk to her about anything but work matters, which I can try to adhere to, but it is impacting on my relationship with everybody else in the office.

Your supervisor may ask you what you want them to do. You could ask them to intervene, perhaps set up a meeting with you both to try and resolve the dispute. She can't refuse to talk to you if your supervisor agrees that working it out is for the good of the workplace. Alternatively, you could just ask them to monitor her behaviour, then go about your business as normal. Your supervisor may then notice her behaviour towards you and hopefully intervene if it is causing tension in the workplace.

Failing all of this, the best interpersonal solution may just be to carry on as normal but respect this colleagues request. Keep conversation light. Don't invite her over, don't get personal. But don't allow her to push you out of any other friendship. Keep participating in group conversations. If she has a problem with you then maybe she will move on; but hopefully, over time, she may soften if you back off a bit.

  • Thank you, that's what I'm currently doing, backing off. As you said, it's the most respectful thing to do. There is no malicious intentions behind her request, only unfortunate consequences. If I don't see a way out giving as much distance as I can, I'll contact my supervisor the way you told me. – anon Nov 23 '18 at 12:38

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