How do I handle an awkward train commute with a junior colleague?

How do I handle an awkward train commute with a junior colleague?

Dear Aunty B,

I’m a team leader in a call centre. I was recently promoted to manage a staff of around 15 and lately, through some strange stroke of coincidence, I have been finding myself in the same train carriage as one of my junior team members each night during my evening commute. It usually begins with an awkward greeting, followed by an even more awkward silence as we try to think of something half-intelligent to say to one another. Would it be rude of me to ignore my colleague on public transport, or am I safe to say a quick hello and return to my game of Candy Crush?

Please help,




Dear Theresa,

You are not under any obligation to socialise with your colleagues on your own time, including on public transport, and it’s perfectly acceptable to smile and say a polite hello. Personally, I like to lose myself in a good book on my nightly commute after a hectic day in the office, but I’m sure computer games offer the same kind of escape.

But don’t overlook what could be a worthwhile networking experience, and maybe even the start of a friendship. Why not make an effort to ask your colleague how their day was, or what their plans are for the weekend? You’re likely to learn something new about your team member and your efforts could very well be rewarded with a better working relationship.

Whatever you decide; don’t forget your manners.

Be Smart,

Aunty B


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