(Editor’s Note: I cut out some of the question and response. Click on the link above to see it all. Alison Green aka Ask A Boss probably has a word count she has to hit because her response went on forever. Word requirements are yet another reason why most websites suck)
I know you’ve talked before about people who don’t want to invite co-workers to social events outside of work, but what happens when you’re that co-worker?
I’ve worked for the same company for two years in a small department of six women. Between the six of us, we are all within a variety of life stages (married, dating, married with kids, etc.), and probably have about 15 years in between us all. I was the third person to get hired and the newest member of our team was hired a year ago, so I am not the newcomer.
The other women have always alluded to hanging out in the past. Recently they’ve been posting pictures on social media of them hanging out (some were even sent directly to me on Snapchat). This week was particularly hard because they talked about one of these events in front of me all week. I also found out accidentally that there’s a group chat going on that I’m not a part of, when one of the women texted everyone in it some big news that we all had been cheering her on for (I had made a point of reaching out on multiple occasions to inquire about it and be encouraging). I only saw it because another co-worker was showing me a photo on her phone at the time.
Do you have advice on how to not take this personally when it feels very personal?
Ask A Boss Response,
I’m sorry — that really sucks. There might be perfectly innocent reasons for why this is happening, but regardless of the explanation, it still feels awful if you seem to be the one person left out of social relationships. That’s especially true at work, since you spend so much time around your co-workers.
But the reality is that not everyone clicks with everyone else. At times, you’ve probably experienced that from the other side yourself, where you connected strongly with some people in a group but not with others. That didn’t mean you necessarily disliked the people you didn’t click with or thought they were bad people. For whatever reason, you just didn’t develop a deeper connection with them. And frankly, sometimes guessing who will become good friends can be just as mysterious as knowing which two people will pair off romantically.
But of course, even when you know that intellectually, it can be tough when you feel like no one is connecting with you — and especially when everyone else is getting along great and you’re the odd one out.
I’m curious if there are any obvious differences in your situations that might be at the root of this. For example, are you by chance the youngest or the oldest of the group? Or the only one who’s married, or the only one who’s single? Or the only one who doesn’t go to their church or the only one who’s not from the area originally, or anything else you can identify that differentiates you from them in some way? Sometimes those sorts of differences can “other” you in ways you might not have anticipated. And if that’s the case, it could be that they like you just fine, but the thing they have in common gives them a special connection to each other on top of the normal work friendship they have with you.
Ask A Boss typed 909 words pussyfooting around why your co-workers aren’t socializing with you. I’ll give you the real answer Ask A Boss doesn’t have the balls to say in 4 words:
Bitch…nobody likes you!
That’s why you’re not invited to happy hours and excluded from the ladies’ group chat. There’s an old saying in poker that goes something like this – if you can’t spot the sucker at the table in the first 30 minutes, then you are the sucker. Ma’am, you’re the sucker. They’re not the problem, you are. Hate to break it to you, but the main purpose of your co-workers GChat is to talk shit about you behind your back. The common bond your co-workers share is not their age, or their marital status, or their time with the company, it’s their animosity towards you. You’re the inside joke that gives these ladies a good laugh. You’re Milton from Office Space and if there was a fire, these babes would save your stapler before you.
Every office has an employee or two that everyone else rallies against and in your department’s case, it’s you. You’re kind of like the office mascot, but the opposite. What can you do to change this predicament? Nothing! You have a shitty personality and annoying quirks that piss people off. You can confront these five co-workers, but they’ll give you the rope-a-dope like Ask A Boss did. Looking for work elsewhere is pointless because wherever you go, you’re bringing your shit personality with you and your new co-workers will hate you just as much as your current ones do.
The sooner you realize you’re the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, the better. Be humble and remember it’s your fault you’re an annoying cunt, not theirs. Don’t try to overcompensate and be fun. Keep your head down, put your earbuds in, and only get up to use the restroom. Leave the office during lunch hour so none of the ladies have to look at your sour mug while eating in the break room. If you’re older, do everyone in your department a solid and take early retirement.
Its individuals like you that make working unbearable and lead people to the bottle.