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marmoset's avatar

I'm having a hard time relating to my friend/colleague after he did a rotten thing (not to me).

Asked by marmoset (970 points ) December 31st, 2013

There’s a small group of people, me and a few other freelancers in the same creative field. We’ve collaborated on some great, successful small projects over the years (10+ years) and although we started as just colleagues we’ve all become pretty good friends too—not soulmates but definitely caring/friendly.

One of us did a really rotten thing in his personal life. We all know, but are not very close with, the person he did this to. The rest of us know about what he did, and he acknowledges it and we know he really regrets it (or at least regrets getting caught), but we haven’t talked about it with each other much and I haven’t talked about it directly with him.

I am not feeling very good when I hear from him or see his updates on Facebook, etc. My aversion to him is more of an issue now that we all have another great opportunity to carry out a small project next summer/fall like the other ones we’ve worked on together in the past.

I feel like I might want to talk to him about this but I don’t know exactly the right approach and I’m questioning what would be the point. I’m not going to be comfortable with what he did. It doesn’t directly affect our work / final product. But the working relationship needs a basic degree of comfort from all of us.

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11 Answers

BosM's avatar

We can only be accountable for our own actions, and have little or no control over others. I think your discomfort might be coming from the fear of how this person might treat you or others close to you – given what you’ve described as callous treatment of someone close to him. This is going to make you cautious, as it would anyone.

Decide how important a “friendship” is with this person. Is he someone you need to work with, or someone you want to have a friendship beyond a professional affiliation?

If you decide on friendship then tell him how you feel – that what he did was rotten and you didn’t like it. If you decide he is only going to be a professional colleague then don’t bother getting it all out on the table because it’s not worth your emotional energy and it will make your professional collaborations with him uncomfortable. Good luck!

JLeslie's avatar

What’s the rotten thing? Did he cheat on his wife? Steal from a store? It really would depend what he did for me to give an opinion. I think it is healthy to have an aversion to someone who has treated another person badly. At the same time I think people can be shitty in their personal lives and great in the work environment. I don’t paint it with a broad brush. Clinton was a great President, but a shitty husband, as one example. I hate his cheating ways, but I would work with him in a second and I respect his mind and his wisdom about world events and the country.

cookieman's avatar

I can appreciate your apprehension and would likely feel the same. That being said, work is work so you may have to let the friendship part wane or die. This is why I don’t mix personal and professional lives, if I can all help it.

What was this thing he did? That may color my answer dome more.

Cupcake's avatar

I would block his posts on facebook. There is a fine line between personal life and work life and I think facebook hurts work relationships more than it helps. There are precious few people from work that I am friends with on facebook for that reason.

Are you upset because this action of his revealed concerning character traits? Or are you being nosy? Are you concerned that this action will effect work? Or can you no longer trust him? I think you need to really evaluate your reaction.

marinelife's avatar

It sounds like you should talk to him about what he did, and let him know how uncomfortable you are with it. Hearing from him about his motivation and how he is feeling now and if he has done anything to try to make up for it may clarify your thinking about whether you can work with him in future and whether you want to continue to be more than colleagues.

zenvelo's avatar

One factor in this is that you know the injured party too. That is a factor that can really complicate things, because his behavior has put you (and others) into the middle of his actions.

Is it possible to have a talk with him in person? It’s the kind of thing to talk to him face to face. If that isn’t possible, if your involvement is strictly on line or by phone, then just keep it to business.

But if you see him in person, I think a talk to him, not about the specific thing he did (whatever that was) but that he has jeopardized the friendship he has built with others. And that his behavior has affected your trust in him, both the trust that he won’t do something similar to you, and the trust regarding how his actions affect you even of carried out with someone else.

Coloma's avatar

What point is there at all in having a “talk.”
About what? You need to get really clear about your intentions.
Is the purpose of the talk to shame him, let him know that if he pulls any crap with you you won’t tolerate it? What does that mean, would you quit your job over a co-workers issues?

Is the purpose to let him know you are uncomfortable around him now?
Your uncomfortableness is your issue, and expressing such is not going to change the situation.
If this person does sincerely regret their mistake there is nothing else to be said or done.
People fuck up and while it is perfectly okay to choose to keep your distance with someone of questionable integrity it is not your place or business to confront this person.

If you are that uncomfortable it is up to you to find a workable arrangement or move on.
This person cannot say anything to you that will make a difference or change your feelings.
Flaunting your moral superiority in the face of anothers mistake is not an exemplary character trait itself.

poofandmook's avatar

I think that this talk could cause even more alienation between you two than just your discomfort. Making your discomfort HIS issue over HIS personal life could cause an actual, valid rift. Unfortunately, your feelings are just your problem right now, and aren’t really his problem.

I feel like my response sounds harsh but it’s not intended that way, really.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, the work relationship is completely seperate from the personal relationship. Lots of my co-workers do not feel the same and open themselves up to a lot of problems.

If a coworker cheats on their mate or taxes or anything like that, it’s really none of my business, all that concerns me is their ability to be an effective part of our team. Could I work with a known child molester, I’m not so sure about that, but I’d try to see them without judgement. I say leave it alone and pretend you never heard whatever you heard, it’s just work not your bff.

IamBii's avatar

This individual stands before a higher power to reap personally the results of all the good, bad and indifferent he puts out. As do we all.

Let it be

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