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I’ve moved to the US from Iran two years and a half ago and started my current job two years ago. I had severe depression and anxiety when I started my job, which led to low performance and so many interpersonal problems with my colleagues, especially with my teammates. We are 3 members in our team, me and two boys.

I’ve been on medication for a year and half, I can say that I’m getting a little be myself now. But my teammates are not comfortable with me at all and try to avoid me. They often will talk with each other on the way to meetings, but never with me. When I see them in the garage or the kitchen they act like they haven't seen me and ignore my greetings, but I've seen them often making small talk and accompanying other co-workers .

I understand that my depression, being a woman, and a foreigner blow the fire of being hateful. However, I need to be in more communication with them. I’m not still comfortable with speaking; because, I know that no one likes my weird accent and the mistakes I make while speaking. Therefore, no chance for starting a conversation and chat with them for now.

I don’t know how to break this ice and create space to be more proactive.

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    I edited the information from your comment into the question, but I think it could still use some information about how you've tried to talk to them and the failures you've experienced. You mentioned that you've had interpersonal problems with them, I think having an explanation of what happened (you can remove any personal information that you need) would be very helpful. – Rainbacon May 30 at 23:37
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    What do you mean by "blow the fire of being hateful"? – DaveG May 31 at 2:01
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    Hi, Verver. Your goal is to break the ice, but you also said "no chance for starting a conversation and chat with them for now."... Could you perhaps explain what you are hoping for in a bit more depth. How do you want to break the ice? Normally that means talking to them. – Jesse May 31 at 5:17
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There are some missing details, so I’ll have to assume some things to try to answer. You quoted interpersonal problems and I’ll assume these were emotional problems due to your depression and anxiety: maybe discussions got a little heated or you had breakdowns and they didn’t know or just didn’t want to deal with it.

The first thing you have to do is try to understand why they loathe you, if it’s due to your country of origin, because you’re a woman or your accent, this is something you can’t change and shouldn’t blame yourself for suffering prejudice, it’s actually their fault. If it’s due to how you acted in the past or how you were, you can slowly revert this by showing them that you’ve improved. Some of the things you can do:

  1. Try to notice, on your own, what they like, so you have small talk material. This might be by noticing any specific thing that they wear (like a graphic t-shirt), keychain, decorations at their desk (if you have them) or even when you listen them talking among themselves. Be careful not to be creepy here, you just want to organically learn more about your peers, not prod into their stuff.
  2. Once you think you have a hang on what feels important to them, you might want to try conversation. For me what worked best in the past to break ice was to notice a preference of someone and then send this person related news on his taste: if they like a specific artist, let them know there is an upcoming album/show. Favorite sports team? News on it. This might require a little effort, but it will show them that you care. The best part of this approach is that you can do it using any text messaging app.
  3. You mentioned that they talk to other colleagues, do you as well? I mean, if you have good relationships with other people at the company, hang out with them, maybe they can tell you more about your colleagues or maybe you can ask them to invite one or both of your colleagues out too. Having them seeing that you have other normal interactions and can hold a conversation might help deconstruct their prejudice. If you work on these you’ll for sure have a better understanding of how to be friendly to foster conversation and cooperation. Good luck!

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