A few years ago, I was going through some stressful and unhappy times at the workplace. I wrote this in a notebook as a way of coping with the situation. It makes me smile now, but there was nothing funny about it back then.
So, there you go,
10 golden rules on how to avoid unnecessary, meaningless contact with colleagues:
1. At the station, if you happen to run into a colleague who is trying to catch the same train – on the way to work or back – pretend you first need to buy something from the kiosk. You might need to wait for the next train, but at least you are guaranteed to have a better, more peaceful ride.
2. If you are so unlucky to run into a colleague while in the train/bus/metro etc., apply the commonly used and accepted trick of staring at your phone, pretending you have not seen the colleague. Chances are the colleague will do the same. To make sure contact is avoided at all costs, stand up and simply walk to another coach.
3. To avoid elevator talk (such as: “How are yoooou?” / “Fiiine, and yoooou?” / “Fiiiine”), take the stairs. Even if you meet someone, you will just pass them by in a second.
4. You reach the floor and scan your card. You are now walking to your desk. Don’t bother to say good morning to everyone you meet on the way. Chances are they will ignore you, which will give you a lousy start of the day. Protect yourself and just salute those you know will salute you back.
5. When at your desk, make sure to look at the screen whenever you feel someone intends to drop by. They will get the idea you are busy and might not disturb you after all. If what they wanted from you is not urgent – and in most cases, it is not – they will eventually send an e-mail.
6. If you must walk along the aisle, walk fast and ignore those you pass by, especially those coming from the opposite direction. Look at them as if you see through them. It’s OK, they will do the same. Better yet, pretend to check your phone. This minimises the chances for someone to initiate contact.
7. If you must go to the coffee machine, go around lunchtime, when everyone is still in the cafeteria. If you really must go at a different time, first make sure no one is coming, then be as fast as you can. Apply rule number 6 whenever needed.
8. Never have lunch with colleagues other than those who allow you to be yourself and with whom you can have a decent conversation without the risk that, after five minutes, only work-related topics will be discussed and only work-related jokes will be made. If there is no such colleague, eat at your desk.
9. Make sure you leave among the first. This lowers the chances of meeting colleagues on the way to the train/bus/metro station. If you do meet them and they are interested in taking the same transportation as you are and there is no kiosk in sight and no other excuse you can make, well, then it is just not your lucky day. Try better tomorrow.
10. If your company allows, work from home as much as you can. Make use of holidays. Call sick, if needed.
Bonus: this video.