For plenty of people, sometimes working in an office can feel just like being back at high school. Navigating the natural work and friend groups can be a challenge, and with so many projects dependent on interpersonal connections, it can be easy to feel like you’re being left out. This makes the work environment a difficult and negative place for you, and makes it feel like everyone else is getting amazing opportunities to move up in the company while you’re left behind. However just like high school, sometimes much of this is built up in our heads.
To start with, you need to decide whether your feeling of being left out is an internal or an external thing. Understanding that the feeling comes from within doesn’t mean you’re crazy or obsessive – there are very normal and common reasons that our brains make us feel this way. The reasons for choosing a team for a certain project are often to do with who has the most expertise in a specific area, or simply who has been around the longest. It may not be a targeted attack on you. Furthermore, your feeling of being left out may be connected to a larger issue – such as not feeling confident or comfortable in your job role, or being anxious about whether you made a good first impression. Try to find the root of the problem, if there is one, and seek it out.
If you do think it’s an external thing, check whether there are internal habits or causes. If you seem stressed or often talk about being busy, people may not want to put another task or project on you. If you tend to have a solitary lunch, it may give the impression that you prefer to skip social activities. If these are the case, you need to ask yourself – do you really even want to be more involved in projects? If you’re busy and content with your level of socialisation, it may just be a case of always wanting more.
If you do want to try and become more involved and engaged, you have to be proactive. One of the best ways is to simply talk – talk to people about their projects and jobs, and eventually talk about your life outside of work too. Try to socialise and be present, even if you’re fairly reserved it’s still important to show that you’re making an effort. Make an extra effort on any tasks you’re currently assigned to, prove that you can do a great job and go the extra distance. Offering a particular skill is also a great way to become a necessary asset in an office team.
Feeling left out is never pleasant, so if you’re feeling this way it’s time to take action. Spend some time both reflecting on yourself, and on your role within the office.