This is a repost from yesterday. After seeing some of the feedback on the way I presented it and considering that I did leave a couple of things out (I was tired and angry while posting...2 "no-no's" in writing) I am posting this again. I appreciate any feedback and suggestions.
I am dealing with a very difficult situation at work right now. I share an office with 2 other males. Down the hall is a female coworker from another department who we has to rely on our department for certain tasks and the printer that she has to use for her computer is in our office. Because of this, she spends a lot of time in our office and talking to us. I have been working there for over 3 years and the 2 other males I share the office with have been there for 6 and 2 years respectively. The female coworker, though with the company for over 5 years has been in her department and office for 2 years. Therefore a lot of time has passed since all of us have been working together and we have all gotten along very well with no real issues. Before I proceed, it should be noted that I am happily married (and have never cheated on my wife nor plan to) and the female coworker is living with her boyfriend of many years whom she always speaks of favorably and the child they have together.
One day about a month ago, my coworker whom I got along with very well and even spent a little time with outside of work (the one who has been there for 2 yrs…the 6 yr coworker is not involved in this) asked me if he could tell me something “even if it is bad” and if I would “promise not to say anything”. I agreed considering we had a very good rapport, but I admit that my judgment may have been a little off because I was up most of the night after learning my Grandmother had passed away (which I shared with my coworkers, including the female coworker who was in our office upon my arrival). He then went on to tell me that the female coworker told him that she felt I was “flirting” with her and the she was starting to feel uncomfortable around me. I asked him what on earth I could have said or done to make her feel this way as I was not flirting with her. He said she gave no examples and “stopped talking” because me and the other coworker had come back to the room. I told him that I wouldn’t mention anything to her as this was a sensitive issue and could become worse considering the nature but would not be speaking with her anymore other than business related issues. He then asked me to not do that and said I should “just drop it” and it isn’t that bad because she didnt seem too mad and was not a big deal as she spoke to me in the morning…I told him I could not do that because this was a big deal to me was a matter of my character being judged incorrectly and I was presented with no facts. The female coworker stayed in her office the rest of the time I was at work and I left early to go be with my family.
A lot of time had passed from there because the female coworker went on vacation and I had gone on bereavement leave and a planned vacation after returning for a few days. Upon my return from vacation the middle of this week, I had still stuck with not speaking to the female coworker while honoring my other coworker’s request and my own feeling to not raise the issue…the female coworker would stop in the room often to “chit-chat” as she normally does and I would not engage at all. Later in the day, there was something I needed from the female coworker’s office. I asked the coworker who told me what she said to get what I needed as I did not feel comfortable going to her office with her alone considering what I was told she said. I then brought what he got for me where I needed it to go but upon returning only about 2 minutes later, the male coworker and the female coworker were talking in the hall outside my office but as soon as I came she scurried off to her office and the male coworker said ” yeah..yeah”. Though I was trying not to be paranoid throughout this whole ordeal, I couldn’t help but suspect they were talking about me and this situation.
The next day, the other coworker (the one not involved) called out and one of the supervisors came to handle some of the workload. Upon my arrival, the door was closed and the male coworker was in there with him. They stopped talking when I got there and the coworker ended by saying “that’s what is going on”. Ironically, a few minutes later, the supervisor (note that he is in his very early 20’s and is close with the male coworker and very friendly with the female who are both not much older), said to the male coworker that he needed something but would have to ask (the female coworker). He said her name very drawn out and sarcastic and glanced at me while doing so. I suspected the coworker and supervisir were talking about this matter before I arrived so I did not engage in any conversation with him from there.
Early in the afternoon, the supervisor left to go to another office. Shortly after the supervisor left, the male coworker asked me if he was doing anything wrong because I was not speaking to him as much lately and if it had anything to do with the issue with the female coworker. I told him that I was just scaling back with socializing with coworkers because I was tired of being nice to people to just get “crapped on ” and reiterated that I did not appreciate the situation because it was a misunderstanding that I was still not made aware of and felt she should have either expressed to me whatever it was that she thought was making her feel uncomfortable or even went to her or my manager (which would not have been a pleasant experience but would have been more respectable or understandable). He then said that she had asked him a few times (most recently after I had aasked him to get what I needed the day before) if he had told me what she shared with him and he said that he told her no (“he said she said nonsense). Then he went on to say that I was “(his) boy” and he did not want anything to affect how good we got along and worked together. He then asked if I could go back to normal with my dealings with the female coworker. I said to him that was something I could not easily do considering all the elements of this situation but would try and proceeded to eat my lunch. I did not ask him about him speaking to the supervisor or his conversations with the female coworker as I am trying my best to not make this situation worse as this is where I get my paycheck from.
Shortly after this, I had to step out of the room for something but as soon as I returned, the female coworker was there talking to the male coworker and the conversation appeared to swiftly change upon my arrival and she left shortly after. Then a little later in the day, I had returned to my office after taking care of some things elsewhere in the building and she was in there talking with the other 2 coworkers and was standing in the little space in my corner that separates my desk and the printer. She was done retrieving her documents, but proceeded to stand in said corner (something she NEVER did in the 2 years she has been working down the hall) when I returned. If I had went and sat down at my desk, I would have been right next to her with mere inches separating us and my eyes and hands at hip level. I felt very uncomfortable sitting at my desk with her there so I stood at the door expecting her to move shortly but she did not…she stayed there for almost 10 minutes before moving.
We then move to the next day and I did not speak to the female coworker nor the male coworker at all other than a quick good morning and good night as I have high suspicion about his involvement in all of this. At the end of the day, he looked very sad at me before leaving (he leaves earlier than I do). He even came back in after leaving for a minute and had a sad look on his face again.
I am becoming very frustrated as this has been lingering now for almost a month. The male coworker was someone that I thought highly of and got along with really well. I understand in the society we live in today that many words or actions could be perceived as flirting or beyond. However, I still do not know what (or if I even) did or said to give the female coworker the wrong impression and can’t wrap my mind around anything as I have no information. What should I have done and what should do going forward? My gut tells me the male coworker is/was not being 100% honest with me and is more than likely witholding information from me and may be more involved than he wants me to believe. Also, the female coworker, the times we crossed paths, did not act like a person that would be totally uncomfortable around me (especially not moving from right next to my desk when I entered the room). I did discuss this with my wife who said she knows me well enough to know I wouldnt flirt with her or have anything going on with anyone but wonders if the female actually LIKES me. Any thoughts or suggestions will be much appreciated.