Skip to main content

Feeling left out at work? Follow these tips to get back on track


The feeling of being excluded can affect us more than we expect. As much as we may want to deny or downplay the pain of exclusion, it can knock your self-esteem and affect your relationships with the people around you. This feeling can sometimes arise in the workplace, where productivity is often tied to how well we socialize with colleagues, even if they aren’t friends outside of the office.

When coworkers organize an event or activity but leave you off the guest list, it’s natural for hurt feelings and anxiety to arise. You can’t change the actions of others, but there are things you can do to manage the situation and your own FOMO.

Here are some tips and tactics to help you work through these feelings of being left out, whether the exclusion is accidental or intentional.

Be objective

Before getting too upset, take a beat and consider the circumstance. Workplace ostracism happens, but it can be unintentional. Often, the exclusion is accidental or based in affinity bias — the tendency to congregate with people like ourselves — may be in play. Other times, the group already had a pre-existing commitment or live close enough to each other that they carpool together, for example.

There are many reasons as to why a group is together without you, especially if this is the first time you’re experiencing this. If this is a recurring situation, then maybe it’s time to talk to your coworkers. Remember that you have to work with your colleagues every day, so a tactful approach is your best ally and it’s important to process your emotions before you begin the conversation.

Mango Star/Shutterstock

Be a social standout

Birthday and holiday gatherings are just two reasons to party at the office, many of which turn into post-work happy hours or celebratory dinners. Many workplaces these days have social coordinators to plan these types of events. To involve yourself more in the social goings-on in the office, consider joining this group to get closer to your coworkers and become more proactive with your social schedule.

Some coworker activities occur after hours, so if you want to become closer to your colleagues, get acquainted with a new coworker over lunch or coffee. If you’re newer to the office, you may not immediately be in the know about all of the unofficial office activities. Often things like happy hours, lunch runs, and the like are traditions that don’t require an invite anymore — your coworkers just know to go. In these situations, speaking one-on-one with a colleague to establish a closer relationship can also expose you to these office traditions and outings that didn’t make the official orientation docket.

Although social connections are important, the first goal in a workplace is finding people who will help you do your job more efficiently and effectively. Some of the best friendships at work arise because the individuals work well together or spend a lot of time working on similar projects. New friends are always welcome, but in the workplace, focus your attention on connecting with supportive colleagues. More personal friendships will likely fall into place.

Reach out

If you’ve considered all your options and still feel that you’re being excluded from workplace conversations or activities, speak to a trusted coworker or HR representative and share your concerns. Be sure to share your feelings clearly, without placing blame. Simply explain that you’d like to be more involved and would like to attend the next gathering. Be specific about the exclusionary behavior so your coworkers know exactly what actions impacted you and can work to not make the same mistakes in the future.

While it may be difficult, do your best to center yourself in the conversation, not the exclusionary coworkers. Instead of naming and blaming those who aren’t bringing you into the social fold, focus on how you feel isolated and want to be more involved. As we mentioned before, sometimes people don’t know they’re acting exclusively until the behavior is brought to their attention.

Feeling left out is a very lonely experience. However, advocating for yourself in a healthy and honest way can ensure your feelings are heard. You don’t have to be friends with your coworkers, but everyone in the office must treat each other with respect.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

Editors' Recommendations

Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
6 style tips if your coworkers are back in the office — but you’re not
Woman working from home in a polished blouse

With COVID-19 restrictions loosening and vaccine rollouts ramping up, more and more companies are returning to in-person work. This is making for quite a confusing time in the business world, as offices move to a hybrid model with some employees working in person while others log on remotely. One of these changes is a pretty big one: the office dress code.

The work-from-home dress code is notoriously lax, so what happens when you’re still in a T-shirt and sweatpants while your in-office coworkers are back to wearing suits and polished dresses? Is it time to step up your wardrobe for video calls with clients and colleagues? Read on to learn how to dress professionally from home.

Read more
New to town? 3 ways to get involved in the community
Woman meeting her new neighbors

It takes a certain amount of bravery to move to a completely new area. Living somewhere new where you don’t know a lot of people can be stressful and even a little isolating. Luckily, with a little bit of time and energy, you can start to ingratiate yourself into your new community. By putting yourself out there, meeting your new neighbors, joining activities, and volunteering, you can get involved and start to feel more at home. Keep reading to learn how to get involved in community service, start new friendships, and make a real difference in the neighborhood.

Meet your neighbors
If you’re interested in becoming more involved in your community, start out by meeting your neighbors. It can be stressful to start a conversation with strangers, but, unfortunately, it’s vital to step out of your comfort zone, be vulnerable, and make friends. Be friendly and bring a small gift or card to kick off small talk with your new neighbors, and be sure to ask questions about the area and upcoming events or meetings. Consider offering to help out your neighbors and mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn, babysit for the new parents, or housesit when someone goes on vacation.

Read more
Can you wear leggings to work? Yes, if you follow these rules
Woman wearing leggings at the office

A few years ago, wearing leggings was a big fashion "don't." People spent hours online debating whether this gym-wear was appropriate to wear in public at all. These days, the rules have changed — leggings worked their way out of the athletics section and into our casual wardrobes.

But are leggings appropriate on the job? The answer largely depends on where you work, but, for the most part, wearing leggings to work is becoming increasingly common. We'll dive into when it's appropriate to wear these comfy bottoms at work and how to style them professionally.

Read more