No one likes to be left out in a community, especially in the professional environment. The feeling of oblivious can be as devastating as being physically abused, according to a research published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Whether you choose to isolate yourself (because you’re an introvert) or your colleagues alienate you for some reasons, workplace ostracism will negatively affect your performance in particular and the company’s success in general.

If you are experiencing the fear of missing out (aka FOMO), try not to let it get the better of you. Here are things that you should do to prevent FOMO from jeopardizing your career (and eroding your spirit).

Why Do You Feel Being Left Out?

Ostracism takes many forms and not all come from the same root. However you experience the pain of social rejection, don’t ignore it. Let’s assess the cause.

In any corporation, it’s absolutely normal for employees to have their own social groups, which are typically formed around the common interests. Just because you can’t fit in anywhere doesn’t mean your colleagues don’t respect you or your work. It could be the individual differences that build the wall between you and other people.

As with any kind of relationships, you can’t expect to be close to someone without getting to know him or her beyond the office small talks, especially if you are a newbie.

You tend to feel lost in translation when people discuss things that you are not familiar with or not interested in. It’s only natural to experience the fear of missing out in this case.

However, if you notice your colleagues routinely avoid interaction with you even if you work on a project together, it is clear that they don’t enjoy your company. You have to confront with them to avoid it affecting the work outcomes. As we all know, workplace exclusiveness is triggered by racial discrimination, which sadly is still happening in a multi-racial country like Malaysia.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that not all negative experiences that you go through are the proofs of ostracism. For instance, you expect the team to have frequent progress discussion for each new assignment but in reality, everyone only seems to only care about his or her own tasks. You start to think that it has something to do with you but turns out, it’s actually how things work in the company; or that you are not invited to a certain meeting simply because it is among senior staffers only. So remember not to overthink and take everything too personal.


Also Read: How to Deal with Workplace Bullies


How Can You Stop Feeling Left Out?

When it comes to office relationship, you really have to break out of your comfort zone even though you’re socially inept. Disconnecting with people won’t do any good to your career because you are working together towards a mutual goal.

There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but you may subconsciously give off cold vibes as you protect yourself in a bubble. Take the opportunities to get to know your colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask to tag along with someone for lunch. Once your coworkers get your gesture, they’ll be more comfortable opening up to you too.

If your coworkers ignore your effort to maintain a team harmony, for whatever reasons, you should consult with your manager to figure out the issues. The last thing that you would want to happen is a mental breakdown at work. As long as you already tried your best to foster a better working relationship, you shouldn’t blame yourself for being left out.

As for those who feel like missing out on important meetings or projects, the best you can do is to become an indispensable team member. No one can deny or reject hard work, that’s a fact; so let success be your “wingman” when making friends with your co-workers.

In some cases, people don’t want to bother you because they assume that you’re busy, so why not reach out to the team to lend them a hand? You don’t have to wait for anyone to ask for your help to show your potential, especially if it’s something within your domain. Proactiveness is also one of the qualities of a good employee.

What Can Leaders Do?

When there’s a sign of exclusiveness in the office, the first person that needs to take action is the leader. To avoid a toxic culture, leaders must be alarmed of cliques, especially when they build barriers to collaboration among other team members. At the same time, it’s important to encourage everyone to join group discussions to make sure that no one is left out of the big picture.

To break down politics from day one, employees must also put a focus on cultural fit when assessing an employee’s potential, since personality traits and workplace culture are closely related. Read more about hiring for culture fit here.

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