But I’m All Grown Up With a Job of My Own

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You Problems

Your colleague is definitely projecting her insecurities and fears about productivity onto you. She may be emotionally manipulating you, but you are also allowing yourself to be emotionally manipulated. I appreciate the kindness of wanting to approach her gently, and I encourage you to do so. She’s seeking reassurance. Share that taking on additional responsibilities has nothing to do with her. It is not a reflection of her work ethic or performance. You’re simply interested in developing a more robust skill set. You might even throw in some flattery by suggesting that she has set such a great example and you’re only trying to follow in her footsteps. You can’t control how she or your co-workers respond to this mild pushback or anything else, but the thing about eggshells is that they’re meant to be broken. As for not having a life, it’s definitely time to address that, too. Find a hobby! See a show. Take a class at the local community college. A person cannot nor should not survive on work alone.

Can’t Keep Up the Pretense

Sometimes, you have to be direct with people who are overstepping. This man is no longer your co-worker, so there is little downside to politely telling him you simply don’t have time to socialize when he comes in. Tell him you hope he is enjoying his retirement and wish him the very best in this new chapter of his life. If he continues to stop in, repeat yourself less politely and usher him out of your office.

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