There could be many things going on with your coworker. The problem is that you have no idea what they are. She may have a psychiatric illness the causes her to behave in an unusual way. She could be on medication that changes her personality. She could’ve had a head injury. She could be experiencing extreme distress at home or is fighting with her husband or her children or her parents and is taking it out on her coworkers. It could be any number of things but it’s likely that you’ll never know what those things are because they are of a personal nature.
Many work relationships are with people considered acquaintances. Acquaintances are people you interact with at work or at school but with whom you do not have a deep connection. Without that deeper connection, you may not be privy to what’s going on in their lives or what they are like outside the work setting.
Her behavior likely has very little to do with you and more to do with whatever personal problems she’s experiencing. Her behavior may be an expression of her personality. Some people have unusual personalities and act in ways that appear odd to others. It’s also possible that she’s attempting to connect with you but is struggling. She may not have good interpersonal or social skills and comes across as abrasive. Not everyone has good social skills. For instance, people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulty with social and interpersonal skills. Part of the problem is that they can be blunt in their responses and interactions. It can take a great deal of time and effort for individuals with ASDs to develop good social skills. Some do better than others, often depending upon their ability to access good treatments.
If it’s causing problems at work, there are several possible solutions. If these issues are disrupting your work, you may want to discuss your concerns with your supervisor. Your supervisor may be able to intervene.
Secondly, you could try to avoid her or ask to be moved to a different part of the office or a different office altogether. I don’t know if that’s desirable or even a possibility but it may be something to consider.
It’s important to keep one thing in mind: it’s unlikely that her behavior has anything to do with you personally. In other words, it’s likely not personal. She doesn’t know you very well and therefore her comments can’t be very personal in nature. If the two of you were good friends and she was making these statements, then her comments would likely be of a personal nature. Because this is a coworker and basically a stranger, her comments to you likely have very little to do with you and more to do with whatever’s going on in her life. In that case, it may be best to ask for advice from your supervisor or let it go and not think too much about it.
Thank you for your question. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle