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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Workplace Cliques

Dear Sue: I work with a clique of catty people. In the four years Iíve been with this small company, I have seen the entire department turn over several times - with the exception of the boss and her little clique. They celebrate each other's birthdays, go on outings after work and have pool parties at the bossesí house. They stand around and chat a good part of the day and get their kids hired into the company. When someone's birthday comes around, they decorate and go all out. If you aren't a part of that group, you aren't invited to the parties and you do the majority of the work while someone else takes credit for it. You receive no training, no encouragement, and rarely receive a response to your ďGood MorningĒ.

I have gone to Human Resources Department with the problem, but have heard nothing. As a result, I have no trust for these people, and every day I wonder if I will still have the job this afternoon. This has been going on so long that I know there is no changing it and in this economy, I can't afford to leave, although it is making me sick. How do I work around this?

Ė Miserable

Sue Says: What do you think your biggest source of frustration is? Is it the lack of trust for the people you work with, your insecurity about your job stability, the lack of appreciation and training you receive or the feeling you have from being left out of the socializing and festivities? Try to identify the root of your frustration, because chances are you may not even want to be a part of the clique. Do you really care about socializing with these cliquey people? If they were to begin to include you, would participate in their outings? Chances are you wouldnít, because you have indicated that you donít even trust them so why would you want to spend time with them outside of work?

If leaving isnít an option, you need to look at the options you do have. Complaining will not change much, and ultimately, could work against you. The more you complain the more you separate yourself from everyone else.

So what can you do? Since you canít change the people you work with and how they act, work on what you can change. For starters, you can change your response to them. The clique you work with sound like a group of kids who belong in high school. Perhaps they never grew up and need to surround themselves with a small group of people because they are insecure. Mature people recognize that there is much to be gained by an expanded network of people. Their behavior is downright rude, but they may not know any better. They may be so engrossed with themselves that they may not have any idea what it is like to the others in the office. Have you considered exemplifying the behaviors you desire to see in others? Extend yourself to others, especially to those who feel left out. Say hello to everyone, and donít worry about who says something back. Donít allow other people to determine your mood or how you feel.

Seek out the training you want, and be quick to offer praise and encouragement to others. Make a sincere effort to connect with everyone, including those in the clique. Look for ways to include yourself and talk with your boss about any job-related concerns including the reason you fear for your job.

I realize that what I am suggesting may be not be what you want to hear and be difficult to do, but you need to get out of the rut you are in. Nothing is worse than showing up at work each day physically while being emotionally absent. Although things seem miserable and out of your control, you have more control than you think. If leaving isnít an option, and your job is making you sick, then you must find a way to make things more tolerable and get your health back and it begins with you and your mindset.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at asksue@suemorem.com or visit her web site at http://www.suemorem.com

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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