Staring can be uncomfortable, especially coming from a coworker you have to see daily. So how to deal with a coworker who stares at you?
What will I learn?
The type of stare matters. You’ll want to address the issue head-on if it’s an angry stare or a mean stare.
Deal With A Coworker Who Stares At You – 12 Scenarios
If it’s more of a curious stare or a blank stare, then there are some less confrontational ways to deal with the situation.
So let’s discuss some reasons for an angry or mean stare and how to deal with them:
1. Intimidation & Power Plays:
Your coworker may stare at you to intimidate or dominate you. This is especially true if the person staring is in a position of power over you.
For instance, if your coworker is your boss or supervisor, they may stare at you to assert their authority.
Or, if your coworker is trying to get a promotion, they may stare at you as a way to show their commitment to the job. Also, while simultaneously trying to make you look bad.
How? By making you feel uncomfortable or even scared, they’re trying to undermine your confidence.
Power play stares can be tough to deal with, but staying calm and composure is essential.
The last thing you want to do is give the person the satisfaction of knowing they’ve gotten to you.
If you can, try to avoid being alone with the person staring. And if you have to be in a meeting or other situation with them, ensure there are other people around.
In this way, you can diffuse the intensity of the stare. And you can also have witnesses in case the situation escalates.
2. Jealousy & Envy:
Another reason your coworker may stare is out of jealousy or envy. If you’ve recently been promoted or received a raise, your coworker may be jealous of your success.
Or, if you’re working on a project they wanted to be a part of, they may be envious of your position.
Likewise, you get along well with other people in the office. Your coworker may be jealous of your social success.
Jealousy and envy can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, including staring.
It can also make your coworker say or do things to make you look bad.
So how can you deal with a jealous or envious coworker? Again, try to avoid being alone with the person.
You can also try to be extra friendly and cordial to the person. This may help to diffuse the tension. And that can make them feel less threatened by you.
3. Disrespect & Incivility:
Sometimes, people will stare simply because they don’t respect you. They may think you’re incompetent or clueless.
Or, they may not like your work style or how you do things. Disrespect comes from a lack of civility.
They may also stare because they dislike you as a person. There could be any number of reasons for this, but it usually comes down to a personality clash.
People who are rude and disrespectful often stare as a way to assert their superiority.
If you’re dealing with a disrespectful coworker, the best thing you can do is to stay professional.
Don’t stoop to their level by being rude or disrespectful back. This will only make the situation worse.
Instead, try to be the bigger person. Be polite and civil, even if the other person is not.
4. Personal Space Issues:
Sometimes, people stare because they’re invading your personal space. They may stand or sit too close to you. Or, they may lean in when they talk to you.
This can make you feel uncomfortable and even threatened. If you think this is the reason your coworker is staring, there are a few things you can do.
First, you can try to move away from the person. If they follow you or continue to invade your personal space, you can politely ask them to back off.
Say something like, “I’m sorry, but I need some personal space. Would you mind moving back a bit?”
However, this is not a personal request. It’s a request for them to stop violating your personal space, a workplace issue.
5. Fear & Anxiety:
How is that different than feeling threatened? The critical difference is that fear is usually based on irrational thoughts. And being threatened is generally based on reality.
So your coworker is staring because they’re afraid of you. It’s likely because they think you’re going to hurt them in some way.
This could be because of something you said or did. Or, it could be because of something they’ve seen you do.
For instance, you might have gotten into a shouting match with another coworker. And now your staring coworker is afraid you’ll do the same to them.
Or, they may think you will get them in trouble with the boss.
Whatever the reason, their fear is usually unfounded. And that’s why it’s essential to try to reassure your coworker that they have nothing to fear from you.
You can do this by being friendly and cheerful to them. You can also try to avoid being alone with the person.
Awkwardness is another common reason why people stare. They may be feeling nervous and uncomfortable around you.
And they may not know how to act or what to say. This can happen when you first start working with someone.
Or, it can happen if you have a disagreement or fall out with a coworker. Try to break the ice by being friendly and approachable.
How can you do that? Well, try these tips:
– Make eye contact and smile when you see the person
– Say hello when you pass them in the hall
– Invite them to lunch or coffee
– Compliment them on their work
– Ask them about their weekend or how their family is doing
Doing these things can help to make the other person feel more comfortable around you. And that may help to stop the staring.
In some cases, people stare because they’re curious about you. They may have heard rumors about you. Or, they may have seen you do something that piqued their interest.
For example, maybe you’re always working late. Or, perhaps you take a lot of personal calls at work.
It can also be that you’re new to the company. And people are curious about you and what you do.
Whatever the reason, they’re curious about you. And that curiosity can manifest itself in the form of staring.
In these cases, the best thing you can do is to try to be more approachable. Invite your curious coworkers to ask you questions.
And if they do, answer them honestly. This can help to quell their curiosity and stop the staring.
Misunderstanding something you said or did is another possible reason for the staring.
For example, maybe you made a joke that your coworker didn’t understand. Or perhaps you said something that came out wrong.
They can also misunderstand your body language. For instance, they may think you’re mad at them when you’re not.
If you think there’s been a misunderstanding, the best thing to do is to talk to the person.
Explain what you meant. And, apologize if you said or did something that was misinterpreted.
Doing this can help to clear the air and stop the staring. And it can help to prevent future misunderstandings.
This is the most simple one if followed by other cues as well. Such as if your coworker only stares at you and no one else. Or if they go out of their way to avoid you.
In these cases, likely, your coworker doesn’t like you. There could be any number of reasons why.
Maybe they think you’re lazy. Or perhaps they believe you are incompetent, or they just don’t like your personality.
Whatever the reason, it’s not likely to change. So, the best you can do is to be polite and professional.
And, if possible, try to avoid interactions with the person.
10. They Are Thinking:
This is the most common reason why people stare. And, it’s usually not because they’re thinking about you.
Instead, they’re likely thinking about something else. Maybe they’re thinking about their to-do list. Or, maybe they’re thinking about a problem they’re having. Or, maybe they’re just lost in their thoughts.
Whatever the case may be, they’re not staring at you. They’re just lost in their thoughts.
So, there’s not much you can do about it. You can engage them in conversation. But, chances are, they won’t even realize they’re staring.
Or, you can just let it go and not worry about it.
Is the stare soft and warm? Does the person look happy when they see you? If so, then it’s likely that they like you.
This is especially true if other friendly cues accompany the staring, such as smiling, waving, or talking to you.
In these cases, the best thing you can do is to enjoy the attention. And, if you’re interested in the person, you can flirt back.
12. They Want Your Attention:
In some cases, people stare because they want your attention. For example, maybe they want to ask you a question. Or, perhaps they want to tell you something.
Or, maybe they want to talk to you. Whatever the case may be, they’re trying to get your attention.
In these cases, the best thing you can do is to give them the attention they want.
Talk to them. And, if you’re not interested in talking, be polite and move on. But don’t ignore them.
So here are some possible reasons why your coworker stares at you. If you’re unsure why they’re staring, the best thing to do is ask them.
But, if you don’t want to ask, try to be more approachable. And, if possible, try to avoid interactions with the person.
Last Updated on 10 months by Shahzaib Arshad
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