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At times, you must communicate with co-worker matters that aren't appropriate for email. When reaching out to an aloof employee, you might be ignored or not taken seriously. An aloof person has something to contribute to the workplace or she wouldn't be on the payroll. However, she may prefer to keep to herself and minimize social interactions.
It's unavoidable to deal with aloof employees, especially high performers. If you are the supervisor of such a person, find the best method of communication that will effectively convey deadlines, project instructions and feedback. Respect the employee's right to be a loner when communication isn't needed.
Breaking the Barrier
You might encounter issues that require forcing yourself into an aloof employee's private world. An aloof person may focus on his job effectively but fail to consider the impact of his actions on co-workers. When an aloof employee's actions impact co-workers, consider how many complaints you receive. His co-workers could be complaining about legitimate things he has said or done. As a manager, it's your job to ensure he is really violating the organization's behavior standards before you make it an issue. In addition, consider whether belonging to a team is part of the employee's job description.
If you're a manager, create an environment of tolerance. Don't allow other employees to target an aloof employee by being overly critical of her, by ganging up on her verbally in a meeting or through overt bullying. She might choose not to fight back when co-workers are rude and withdraw more into her private world. Encourage employees by saying it's OK to accept people who are different than themselves.
Consider whether an aloof employee has any sense of belonging to the people who work in your department. He may want to belong or he might not. Belonging to social groups offers a sense of identity, the opportunity to trust others, shared goals and ways to be understood. You can invite an aloof employee to participate in social activities and encourage him to speak up more in meetings, but you might not get much response.
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