My Co-Workers Hate Me!
Outcasted by your colleagues?
By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer
Your spouse will tell you everyone is jealous of you; your mother will tell you it is all in your head; your grandfather will tell you to suck it up and you don’t need to be popular to succeed at work. While there may be an element of truth in all of their advice, the fact is no one can determine the severity of a situation better than you. If you truly feel like you are not liked in the workplace, it can weigh heavily on you and can, in the long term, impact your whole professional life.
Most of us crave acceptance from our peers, whether it is in a school playground or in the boardroom. Feeling like an outcast can trigger extreme reactions and can lead to a host of other behavioural issues. No matter how far we evolve, we will never be able to fully escape the social construct of the playground and the desire to be liked. As such, feeling this way in the workplace is a very real and often debilitating problem.
It’s not me, it’s you
Our natural reaction is to look outwards and to blame external factors for behaviours or responses that we do not like. If, for example, your co-workers routinely fail to invite you out for lunch, your initial reaction may be to blame some or all of them for excluding you. However, rather than focusing blame on others, you should look inward first and try to determine why people are treating you in a way that you do not like.
We learn our social cues at a very young age and can often develop impressions of people based on many subliminal and consciously imperceptible factors. The way that you talk, walk or shake someone’s hand will be a determining factor in how those around you will treat you. Think about the cues that you are giving your co-workers and whether they are in line with the impression that you have of yourself. Taking an introspective and honest look at your behaviour can unlock some of the mystery.
It is needless to say that any behaviour counter-productive to the chief goals of the organisation is going to make you unpopular: being bad at your job can be the fastest way to becoming persona non grata in the workplace. Additionally, engaging in otherwise avoidable practices can be the death knell for your popularity. If you spend your days gossiping or over-sharing elements of your personal life, you will begin to alienate those around you. Think back to what your grandfather told you: you are not at work to be popular. You are being paid to perform a job. While being social is encouraged, don’t be the one to cross the line. It goes without saying that you should also stop blasting your music and clipping your toenails at your desk. This is typically frowned upon.
A defined event
If you can trace your sudden decline in popularity to a particular event or episode, this is often something that can be mitigated. If you made a decision that proved unpopular among your peers, it is possible that you did not communicate the reasons behind said decision or did not provide enough context to the outcome. Don’t allow laziness or poor organisation to interfere with your professional reputation. And, most importantly, do not let pride get in your way. If you made a mistake that negatively impacted your co-workers, stand up and take responsibility. While you may lose popularity in the short-term, you will gain long-term respect. And valour goes a long way in the office.
Re-building your reputation
It is never too late to mend any broken fences. While it may take time and effort, you will be able to retrain your peers on how they view you. Think back to when you started working for the company and all the things that you performed to try and earn their respect.
Have you deviated from this path? Have you spent more time focusing on matters that are not related to your core function? Did you suddenly stop showering? Think about how you deviated from your original path and begin righting the ship. Once you straighten up your behaviour, it will be a matter of time before those around you begin noticing.
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