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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How would you deal with being ignored by a work colleague?

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How would you deal with being ignored by a work colleague? I used to be friends with this person but since I was promoted he freezes me out.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It can change a relationship, even a close one, when you get promoted at work. The dynamics of your relationship have changed and you have to become somewhat distant and careful about your personal interactions so you don't come across as preferring your friend over other employees. Because of this you may still have to maintain some distance regardless of your relationship outside of work.

However, it sounds like in your situation that your friend might resent your promotion and be showing his displeasure about it through how he communicates with you. This may be how he learned as a child to let someone know when he is unhappy with something, even if it is not the person's fault and even if it is not the most effective way of communicating.

If your friend usually uses passive aggressive behavior as a means of communicating his feelings, it may be difficult to make a connect with him again and become friendly. But it is still worth the effort, even if it is only to say you gave it your best try. However, if he typically is friendly and is just being difficult about this one situation, you may be able to reach him easily.

Try talking with him about your feelings. You still have to maintain the boundaries of being at a higher rank than him, but that doesn't prevent you from coming to him and saying that you would like to improve your relationship and asking him how you can accomplish that with him. By leaving it up to him to say how you can improve the relationship, you can get an idea of what he feels it would take to fix the situation. You also give him some control over how this works out, which may appeal to him if he is hurt by your promotion.

If he doesn't respond to your request or gives you a difficult time about it, you may have to have your say and let him work out his own feelings. Sit down with him and tell him that while you know that you both have to acknowledge your promotion, you still respect him and want to maintain the wonderful communication you had before. Let him know that no matter what, you feel that things would be better if the two of you got along rather than opposed each other. And let him know that you understand if he needs time to adjust but that you are there for him anytime he is ready. By saying these things to him, you can let him know that you are giving him some power and that you respect him, which may be part of the reason why his ego is bruised. He may feel you are "above" him. You want to try to level the situation so he feels better. He should respond to you.

I hope this has helped you,

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