Advice column: our new person likes to pry, and it's a problem

Dear Ash

A new colleague who joined the department a month ago has a terrible habit of being nosy. Every time I try to have a conversation with other colleagues he tends to creep up without my knowledge to ask what we are talking about! I would understand his curiosity if we were talking about something or someone he was familiar with, but he has a tendency to ask questions about people that we used to work with or about our partners. The curious thing is that he gives nothing away about his own private life; when we do try to ask him about his partner or previous job he just tends to change the subject or say he has to take a call. I don’t want to make him feel excluded but I just don’t know him well enough to talk so frankly with him.

Ash replies:

It may be that your colleague is just curious about his new workplace and colleagues and wants to try to see where the land lies in order to attempt to fit in? I am not necessarily agreeing with his approach or tactless tactics, especially as he seems to have pushed people away rather than make any new connections.

I would however suggest that you try to give your colleague the benefit of the doubt and try to make steps to include him more within the team. Perhaps suggest a welcome lunch for him or drinks after work and invite other colleagues too, in order to allow him to get to know people outwith the workplace; it may also allow him to feel more comfortable about revealing more about himself.

Sometimes a person’s insecurities can come across as odd behaviour and it is important that you give your colleague a second chance.

Of course, if his behaviour does persist, despite your attempts to be more inclusive, then you may want just want to tell him politely to mind his own business!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162 or by email: 

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