Stranger at work

I have been working at the same company for the past 5 years. Yet and while I hear some people calling their co-workers *family*, I still feel myself stranger. No matter how much of an easy going I am, and no matter how easy my communication with my fellow co-workers, and no matter me being the most friendly guy at the company, there are still huge walls (that I respect) that co-workers build around each other to protect their own privacy and background.

It does make me wonder if this is a normal behaviour among co-workers around the globe, or is it just different in Jordan where people tend to be cautious with dealing with others while trying to maintain certain boundaries that are built mainly on oral communication because of the cultural influence of empahsizing on words and its affects.

Maybe it also has to do with people’s differences and their moral backgrounds where I find myself *unique* in an environment full of strict religious people, mainly Muslims who don’t shwy of expressing their own set of beliefs, along with some other few Christians who are no less strict with their own beliefs as well but try to avoid expressing theirs because they are a minority, while bringing it infornt of me up at times where only Chrsitians gather togather because I am technically Christian.

Me, being closer to the non-religious side, and having a passion for argueing and getting easy information through other people talk, and with a special interest in people’s believes and behaviours, find my self continuously trying to hold my urges of going further into conversations at lunch breaks so that not to offend other people.

People would argue that this is a working place and that it is not a place of socializing, but I believe that work would be much fun when people are more comfortable with dealing with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my co-workers, and actually sometimes I do enjoy chit chatting with them, but I don’t feel that I have real friends among them, I don’t feel like I am among my family. After a long break or vacation I feel that I am stranger who are forced to deal with people on a daily basis without being able to feel at home in a place that I actually spend more time in than home, and with people who I actually see more than my close friends and my family members.

I believe that I am a person who loves to have close friends and family members around, even in business. Family businesses might have some disadvantage, but it does also give work a better feeling, like being at home, supported, and secured. Not an alien, dealing with strangers…


  1. hmm so that means you never switched work, i don’t know about being close with my coworkers (am only close to a few the rest are just purely business not even lunch talking) that tends to make things easier for me but from what i notice it makes ppl despise you for no apparent reason. So i guess its better that ur friendly but not too friendly with them. especially with the mix you have there …. it tends to get frustrating really quickly if you get into too many liberal arguments with that crowd


  2. Observer…I am sure that you will have alot os suggestions from ppl telling you what to do, in which can be good, but i have some legitimate questions here, they build these walls as you say because they WANT to, then why trying to break them (out of good will, i know) yes, some fanatics gather for several reasons that has nothing to do with personalities, such as muslims, girls,christians, men, etc…, you know what, maybe they are comfortable that way and they dont want others in. Observer, 5 years in the same co. is just more than a family, in fact it is a tribe 🙂 Cheers


  3. Me and you are both religious minorities in the workplace. Actually, In my last job I felt that boundary but it was more because of ethinic differences than religious. The majority ethnicity (african american) had a rich culture that they’re social lives were completely invested in and me and the only other 2 non-black people just naturally bonded together because we felt we couldn’t relate.I’m personally of the belief that work is work; it’s either going to be a good opportunity, good experience, or a good paycheck, but yes the social aspect can make it more or less enjoyable. So what I wanna say is just way too long I’ll try to make it short. I’m actually one of those muslims that (usually) don’t shy from expressing my beliefs where they’re relevant, but I think I got to this point because of the fact that I’ve always been a minority and growing up I have felt judged and looked down upon, especially when I started wearing hijab, so I get to a point where I can say “screw this! they’re not better than me, I’m telling everyone about what I got for eid.” Also even in all Muslim environments there’s some dynamics there, there’s the “religious” and the not as observant or practicing and it’s been my experience that the “religious” are usually the minority and I’ve had similar experiences growing up with that group of people that I previously mentioned (judged, looked down upon) so even in all muslim environments I aim to not feel like I have to tiptoe around my beliefs when they’re relevant in the conversation, part of my “screw you” philosophy.


  4. I broke it up in 2 parts…With that said, I think that the things people say and the way they act always have to be put in context of the situation, it’s not ok to say anything to anyone anywhere and many muslims are so guilty of this. I don’t know why many people all of a sudden feel so comfortable and confident expressing their viewpoints and very personal beliefs to someone who doesn’t share those beliefs when they’re in the majority and they know the people around them are on their side, but when they’re alone (or in the minority) amongst a group of people who can freely express opposing viewpoints you don’t hear a peep out of them! That makes me so mad. I don’t know if this is what’s going on in your workplace.On Eid day a group of us girls went to get our haircuts at this place that accomadates us, which is very nice of them considering it’s one of the most upscale and busy spas/salons and they really don’t need our business and go through alot of trouble making private rooms. In return we should be gracious and curteous but some people…….. We were stupid and didn’t think to make appointments at the same time and so it was one hairdresser with us and the rest of waited and we all chatted with her. I can’t remember how the subect of religion came about and the girl comes from an orthodox christian background and was telling us how her grandmother used to cover her hair in church and whatever, I thought it was cute that she was trying to find common ground between us to kind of break the ice but this one girl took that as her queue to either preach or attack, I’m not sure what she was thinking. She went someting like this “see, you guys keep changing your traditions and you keep changing the way you do things bla bla bla bla…..” she got into bible vs. qur’an stuff, there were 3 of us and 1 of her and I was gettting soooo mad at how inappropriate and irrelevent she was being. I mumbled something quietly in arabic for the girl to shutup “khalas hana” and then I made a joke “God Hana I’m never going places with you, you’re so embarassing”, I was glad everyone laughed.


  5. I like having a friendly atmosphere at work, it simply makes it more enjoyable to spend 8 hours everyday with the same faces..In my place of work,I’ve noticed that employees have formed groups..Eeah group hang out together at every break,lunch, after work or weekends..Usually they share same interests,it can be religion, politics, sports or women and beer..But in every office there is a couple of “outsiders” or the “Loners” who come and go do their thing without uttering a word and usually they are the very religious,whether christians,muslims or jewish, they all act the same..I am a muslim and I hang out with a group of open minded people who respect me, don’t hold my religion against me or have no problem with me being a foreigner..Now the current times are dictating the relationships ..


  6. Observer- maybe you should make achievments at work that makes people respect and look up at you. You can start by blogging less at work. 😛Asoom- oh dear asoom, observer was discussing people at work but I have no idea how we ended up discussing the jargon of you girls at the saloon. LOL. Maybe you should blog about it. 😀 (like you don’t blog alot already..:P)


  7. No_angel, I did work in other companies before. My relationship with my co-workers is good. I like some more than others, but I wish I have 2-3 close friends of mine working with me. It would make things better.Bashar, I think that people build such walls not because they want to, but because of their fear that not doing so would bring them trouble which they try to spare at work. I think it has to do with culture here.Asoom, that was really long :). I am glad you got over losing your comment and wrote it again.I laughed as well at Hana 😛Actually I dont mind people bringing up whatever they believe in, but I don’t like when they get offended when you point out your own set of believes that contradict with theirs. Noura, yes this is the case here as well. It is normal for people to group themselves based on their interest. I have maybe 1-2 who share a closer view of life like me at work, but still they seem different in other aspects which doesnt help us being close friends.Hamza, who said that people at work dont respect and look up at me? :P. I think that I am the most loveable person at work (trying to be humble) but I know that they enjoy working with me the most 🙂


  8. Fadi, they’re more family than you think they are. Five years is a lot in human life, and being around the same people, no doubt you have feelings but it is you who detaches yourself from them.Trust me, when the time comes to move on, you will know what I mean when I said they’re already family and you’re not aware of it.


  9. I’ll leave my job coz I don’t have this friendly environemnt recently while I am a very friendly social person fond of communication with others, work not just a place to bring bread or to learn new things nly, also spending 8 hours there should cover the social part otherwise it will be a very pale place.


  10. i just said good bye to another group of co-workers that are leaving. what sucks about my job is i am the only one that is consistant a group of people come for a year or longer i train them and they leave!! I cried so much this week. honestly i have worked here for almost four years and each time i become close to a group of individuals like family we party, shop, eat dinner sometimes after work hang out on the weekend and then they leave. The group is a made up of people from different back grounds and religions. So today when they got on the bus to go to the airport i was the one left in the parking lot waving good bye; thinking i guess i will call up my friends here in Qatar i have made and maybe go have a drink or hangout so i don’t have to think about how i feel like i just lost apart of myself. 😀 marie


  11. Well, I don’t think it’s uncommon for someone to feel like a stranger at work. I think you are just being professional. But of course, this can’t be applied to everyone. Depends on the person, and depends on the workplace, and it also depends on your sex. I think males generally feel more at ‘home’ at their workplace – not to sound sexist and judgemental, but it’s something I have noticed.


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