An ivory tower refers to someone who is blissfully cut off from the rest of the world in favor or their own pursuits. In the working world, an ivory tower is someone who isolates themselves from the rest of the office because they're focused on working toward their own personal goals and totally negate the larger goals of the company.
Here are eight ways to tell if you've become an ivory tower yourself — and what to do about it if you have.
1. Your coworkers are always chatting about last night's happy hour you weren't at.
Are your coworkers always coming into the office chit chatting and reminiscing about what had happened at the happy hour last night — you know, the happy hour that you didn't attend because no one invited you? If so, this may be a sign that you've become an ivory tower — an isolated colleague who no one feels comfortable inviting to group gatherings because you tend to come across like you're above them all.
If this is the case, it may be in your best interest to chime in the next time you hear them planning a happy hour. Ask about the plans for it and show up!
2. Your coworkers always grab coffee without you.
Again, if you notice that your coworkers are always heading out of the office for a midday coffee without you, it may be a sign that they don't want to invite you along because you've totally isolated yourself.
The next time you run out for a coffee yourself, consider asking a coworker or two to join you! While it may feel out of the blue at first, the more regularly you invite others to join you, the more they'll start to invite you, too.
3. You find yourself eating lunch alone most days.
Do you find yourself eating lunch alone at your desk or in the office kitchen solo most days? Maybe you do go out for lunch, but you find yourself sitting at a table for one more often than that. While a lone lunch can feel rejuvenating at times (sometimes you just need a break to be by yourself!), it can also be nice to enjoy lunch with friends at work. But if your colleagues are always eating without you, it may be because you've isolated yourself.
Invite a colleague or a few to lunch with you one day! You never know who might then invite you the next time around.
4. You don't know who to turn to when you need a helping hand.
Sometimes you're in over your head, and you could really use a hand to delegate some tasks. But if you're struggling to determine who you feel comfortable asking for help, it may be because you've isolated yourself so much that you haven't made any real connections in the office. It can feel awkward asking someone you don't know so well for help.
If this is the case, consider volunteering yourself to help out when others need it. Then when the tables turn, they may be more willing to be there for you.
5. You don't know who to ask when you need coverage.
If you need to take the day off but you don't know who you can call or text to cover you, it may be because you haven't made any real friends at work. This could be because you're an ivory tower!
Again, if this is the case, consider volunteering yourself to cover for others when they need it. Then when you need a day off, they may be more willing to step in for you. And you can build reliable relationships with them this way, too!
6. You realize you don't know most people's names in the office, outside of your team.
If you look around the office and realize that you don't know most people's names in the office, it may be because you've become an ivory tower. You haven't put in the effort to get to know people in the workplace outside of your immediate team.
If you find this to be true, consider taking a walk around the office and introducing yourself to some of the colleagues with whom you haven't directly worked. If you've been emailing with someone in the office, consider scheduling a meeting to talk in person. Or if you bump into unfamiliar faces in the elevator, kitchen or office common spaces, strike up some friendly conversations.
7. You feel too shy speaking up in meetings.
If you're feeling too shy to speak up in meetings, it may be because you've isolated yourself so much so that you no longer feel part of the team. You might not feel comfortable getting involved or voicing your opinions when it seems like everyone else gets each other except for you.
One surefire way to work around this is by forcing yourself to speak up. Share your thoughts. Ask for feedback. Begin engaging. You have to start somewhere!
8. Your door is always shut or your headphones are always in.
If your door is always shut or your headphones are always in, you're suggesting to others that you're unavailable. You're isolating yourself.
Consider leaving your door open when your workload isn't too heavy, or take out your headphones so you can communicate with colleagues in real life and not just over email and messaging platforms.
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.