Hi, I’ve been reading a lot here lately, so hopefully will not be too newbie-ish.
I’ve been working with a really nice man for over a year. We have the same position. About two weeks ago, he said something just a tiny bit offensive, and in hindsight, it was trivial. I tried to speak to him about it privately, diplomatically, and things went really badly. He got very defensive, and I tried to backpedal, and I thought for a couple minutes we were having a discussion.
He started to say things like “I see patterns that no-one else can see” and “No one ever really understands what I’m saying.” Then he implied that I was warning him that I would go to someone higher up next time, which I had no intention of doing, so I’m wondering if he’s lost jobs before. He said something like “Well I’ll just not talk whenever you are around.”
Now he won’t look at me or speak to me. One day I tried to say hi to him and he waved at me without looking up. We are both in our 50s, so I’m finding this very unusual.
I’ve been wondering if he’s perhaps dealing with schizophrenia, though he is obviously doing great, aside from the wrench I threw into things. As I read more, there are other signs that fit. I realize it is uncool to speculate about someone’s diagnosis, etc. I’m feeling tremendous guilt about possibly upsetting an equilibrium that he may have had to work for.
Also, since I really like him as a friend, I am heartbroken at this sudden cutting off of communication. My other friend with social worker experience in this area (who doesn’t know him, just going by my story) advises me to give him space and not try to repair things with him. Well, I sort of did, and it didn’t fix anything as far as I can tell. I wrote him three emails saying I was really sorry to have even brought it up, and also trying to tell him things I appreciate about him, seeing as how the only time I got that personal with him was in order to criticize him. That’s as far as I am going to take that.
He has a good family situation and everyone likes him. There is no danger of his being fired from this job. Should I take the bullet and just let him ignore me for the foreseeable future? At this point I’m still thinking of trying for “hello” or “goodbye.”
Thanks for reading. I appreciate your feedback.