Office cliques can spoil company culture. Feeling like you don't fit in at work can be painfully awkward, especially because you spend a good chunk of your day in the workplace.
"I have been at my current role for a little over a year now — I am the most junior in the admin team at my current company, and I feel completely isolated and ostracized by the team," she says. "No one speaks to me unless they need me to do something (order their lunch, unclog the sink, watch the phones while they eat lunch together in the conference room right next to me). I understand that, while making connections is a two-way street, when I have tried to reach out to them to hang out after work, they have respectfully turned me down. I later found out that they all went to happy hour together instead. I have walked into the kitchen multiple times in the mornings and all of them would disperse and walk out gradually."
The FGB'er says that she always does as she's asked, and she has shown that she's a hard worker and the right person for the job. Unfortunately, however, she believes that her hard work and willingness to yes all asks of her has put her in a position of which her colleagues take advantage. The isolation is uncomfortable in the "pin-drop quiet office environment."
While she cares for and respects her supervisors, she says she'll leave the role soon.
"How do I tell them that the real reason that I am leaving is because my team is very much a huge clique and that they don't speak to me outside of handing off their work to me?" she asks the FGB community.
Here's how the community has been chiming in.
1. Be honest with the company — but carefully.
"It's all in the approach — I wouldn't say they're a huge clique; they'll get defensive," advises FGB'er, Isaviel. "I would be honest though. Maybe something like, 'I like the people I worked with here, and I feel I've done my best to fit in and be a part of the team, but it was pretty evident that the feeling wasn't mutual. It is my hope that any future employee of the company gets that feeling of acceptance as it is essential to the culture of any company.'"
Isaviel adds that it's important during any exit interview to identify any issues with the company so the company is aware of them and can, ideally, make changes.
That said, not all FGB'ers agree that being too honest is any help.
"With respect to your exit interview, my advice would be to remain polite and upbeat ('I enjoyed working closely with my supervisor, and I learned a great deal,' as it’s never wise to burn bridges," adds BeaBoss854292. "As well, this company has allowed a clique to take hold, so I expect that there is relatively little likelihood that your feedback will change matters. In addition, you have no obligation to provide this company with management advice."
2. In the meantime, keep your chin up.
In the meantime, Isaviel adds to get your work done, and don't sweat the rest.
"The best thing you can do for now is go in and do what you need to do and go home," she says. "Realize that you're better than [the cattiness] and brush their actions right off your shoulder. Hold your head up high, and hold onto the excitement that you have bigger and better things coming your way. You'll quickly realize that their actions are not having an effect on you at all."
Other FGB'ers agree.
"Do your work and leave the office behind at the end of the day," says BeaBoss854292. "[Also] do whatever you can to enjoy your time away from the workplace and make your personal time restorative. My motto for this concept: The worse the day, the better the evening. Treat yourself well!"
3. Try to find common ground with colleagues.
"I felt [ostracized] at my second job until I was there about six months and had obtained the trust of my boss — I understood we kind of had common ground," EmpoweredGirl685891 shares. "You have to find a similar interest with this particular group of people and talk to them even if it's just small talk to start. I thought my boss disliked me very much until we had that conversation, and it opened a door I never knew existed. Sometimes we have to leave our own comfort zone to find a different perspective to assimilate to our work environment!"
Others add that, even if you find common ground, it may be best to look for a positive environment elsewhere.
"You are better than this and need to be aware that it would be in your best interest to look for a better job while continuing to work there — this is not a positive environment for you," says FGB'er westiegloria.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.