Leading the dance

There’s a reason I don’t like to get involved with people at work. Even when I’m not involved it can get pretty tricky, which is what I’m experiencing now. I’ve have had my issues, but I’ve concluded the problem is not with me, but her.

I’m not trying to do anything. I have no agenda, I’m just trying to be normal and friendly. If we can get back to the friendly relations we had before then that would be great, but in the meantime, I want something that doesn’t stick out.

To get back to that, I have a policy of being pleasant, friendly, and to carry on as usual. There are constraints, but basically, it means that if I would have said or done something before then, I’ll seek to say or do the same thing now.

Of course, it’s a lot harder in real life. I had my own issues for a little, which made that difficult with everyone, but particularly her. And then there are the ups and downs and the moments of trepidation which either frustrate or make you reticent.

There have been times when I think we’re on the way back, and then something will happen. It’s disturbingly familiar to me, but now I can see patterns emerging.

Basically, if I catch her unawares, if I go up to her and ask her a question at her desk, or as she passes me by, then she is bright to the point of exuberance and exuding warmth. But then I’ll send her an email about some work-related matter, and when once there was a touch of whimsy and smiley faces, her response is studiedly formal.

We get in about the same time. Early in the week, she was getting in ahead of me, and as I walked into a near-empty office, I would be directly facing her. I made a point of wishing her a civil good morning each day. Today I was in ahead of her, and once more, the office was near empty. She walked in and without turning said good morning in a small voice. I thought she was ignoring me, and directing it towards someone else when I realised there was no-one else. I didn’t bother responding to a head turned away from me.

Both of us are consistently good with everyone else but each other. Except for the moments we connect it’s like there’s a forcefield about us individually, though if she’s close by and talking to someone within my earshot, there seems an almost manic edge to her performance. It’s overemphasised – though remember I’m sensitive to these things. Her voice is louder than it need be, her laugh longer.

I’m at the point where I don’t want to get involved in these games. I don’t want to play. I know from experience how toxic that can get. I thinking of backing off, being friendly but distant – in effect, all that means is that I won’t make the efforts I have before. The problem with that is that she might think I’m playing and the spiral will continue. That’s the benefit in making it normal, as I’ve tried to do. We don’t have to be close, but just simply conducting things in a normal, civil manner takes the temperature.

The problem with all of this is that it takes two to tango. No matter what I do now, it will be interpreted one way or the other. So be it.

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