Were you invited to the cook out this July 4th?
By Aine Cain
No one likes feeling left out.
Unfortunately, when every happy hour and lunch outing shows up in your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, it’s never been easier to feel excluded.
If the fact that everyone at work seems to be having fun without you is getting you down, it may be time to assess the cause.
Below are 7 possible reasons your coworkers are hanging out without you — and when that should worry you:
It’s simple oversight
Jason Hanold, the founder of executive and board search firm Hanold Associates, tells Business Insider that there’s rarely ever any serious cause for concern when you don’t get invited to hang out.
“Sometimes it’s a simple oversight; a couple people started hanging out, and then individuals joined in without a broad invitation,” he says.
“In this scenario, extend yourself, be willing to be vulnerable, and express an interest in joining in next time,” he suggests. “Usually this is all it takes for inclusion.”
There are social boundaries at play
Most of the time, Hanold says you’ve just got to take the time to get to know people. In other cases, obvious dynamics might be at play.
“Are they all single and you are married with five kids? They may not even think about asking you out but still think highly of you,” Hanold says. “If you are the boss or team leader, respect that social boundary.”
Your coworkers don’t like you
Of course, there are other reasons you’re not getting invited that should worry you.
The worst case scenario is that your coworkers don’t want to hang out with you because they don’t like you.
If you feel like you’re being ostracized and avoided rather than simply forgotten, it’s probably time to reflect on your own behavior in the office.
Have you done anything to alienate people? If the answer’s yes, it’s probably more important to work on yourself a bit before attempting to branch out to others.
You’re coming across as desperate
Befriending people can be complicated: You don’t want to come off as too uninterested. But at the same time, you don’t want to appear too desperate.
It’s important that you don’t come on too strong. Don’t blast people with social media requests; don’t get wild at the office holiday party; and don’t invite yourself to activities without asking, Hanold says.
Basically, be nice, don’t force things, and stay open-minded. Things usually work themselves out.
Your colleagues are cliquey
Office cliques happen, and you shouldn’t spend too much time attempting to insinuate yourself into a group that simply isn’t interested in including you. That’ll just make you look desperate.
“If the group appears to have established walls around their circle, it’s time to look to find another social outlet, create your own relationships, and follow your passion,” Hanold says. “It’s highly unlikely you would find deep enjoyment and an intrinsically rewarding experience from hanging out with a group that did not organically grow without you as a part of it.”
You’re giving off a cold aura
Hanold says that it’s important to consider how you come across in the office. It’s possible that your vibe is a bit intense or intimidating. It’s not that people don’t like you — they just assume you’re not interested in hanging out.
“Are you ‘all business’ at work and share very little of yourself personally? You may be subconsciously closing social doors,” Hanold says. “Remember, the doors to your head and heart open outwards; you have to let others in before they invite you out. People trust who they know, and maybe you haven’t shared much about yourself for others to get to know you.”
Some people prefer to keep things strictly professional in the office, and that’s fine. But if you’re upset about feeling left out, maybe it’s time to tweak your image.
Your isolation is preventing you from becoming a part of the team
Feeling excluded in the office can lead to a vicious cycle. You feel left out and become more reserved and less comfortable. As a result, your colleagues pick up your vibe and become less inclined to include you in future events. This can put a major damper on your morale at work.
It’s important that you don’t allow your own feelings to get in the way of your job. If your lack of camraderie seems to be impacting your capacity for teamwork, that’s a problem. In that case, try to strike up some friendly conversations at work. If you’re a delight to work with, people will probably start including you in social events.