What can you do when colleagues shut you out or gossip about you? Here is the advice of a number of career coaches.
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Just like the schoolyard, the office garden can also turn into hell. You may feel that you don’t belong: that colleagues don’t like you and actively keep you out of certain projects and conversations. What can you do then? How do you get into a situation where you get the feeling that you really belong and that you and your input are valued?
Here are 7 awesome tips when colleagues shut you out.
1. Don’t assume that others don’t like you
What can you do if you feel that colleagues don’t like you? Unfortunately, bullying, excluding, and harassment are still the order of the day in some cases. In the first instance, you are always advised to start with a reality check. Do your colleagues really don’t like you, or do you think that just because you are insecure or quickly doubt yourself? Perhaps you are misinterpreting their signals, or you are sending out unintended signals of rejection yourself.
If you suspect that colleagues don’t like you, it is first and foremost important that you investigate whether this is really the case, or whether you just think that it is. So don’t keep walking around with this idea alone, but involve someone in it. Ask that person what he or she thinks of the way colleagues treat you.
Try to stay calm. Is your thought correct? Can you say that with 100 percent certainty? You will probably feel more comfortable then and it will be easier for you to let go of the thought.
2. Take some risk
Could it be that you yourself are too closed off, or difficult to approach? Try to make contact, take the initiative. Go to that drink or sit next to someone during lunch and start a chat. You cannot expect others to always approach you, so you will have to indicate that you are open to contact.
If colleagues do not respond to this, or if it is made clear to you in some other way that they really don’t like you, then it is necessary to take the next step. Be open to feedback and try to figure out why they don’t like you. If you cannot do this alone, you can discuss the atmosphere in the team with your manager. Maybe he or she can help get you into the conversation.
If you really think that colleagues don’t like you, find out what your own part is in this. If you can’t think of what you might fall short of, you could express your suspicion and ask straight away: ‘I get the impression that you don’t like me, is that right?’
Dare to start the conversation, possibly together with your manager. Then you have a chance to clear up any misunderstandings.
3. Take bullying seriously
If one or more colleagues are really harassing you, don’t let that situation continue for too long. If colleagues gossip about you, exclude you or disadvantage you, it is a form of bullying. It can make you feel very bad and even make you sick. You should take this seriously and report it to your manager and the company doctor as early as possible. It is their job to help you with this and to address your colleagues about their behavior.
If there is bullying in the workplace, it can be very annoying. It can cause a lot of tension, even leading to burnout. Do not keep walking around with it yourself, but raise it with your manager and HR. Sometimes there is also a confidential counselor to whom you can tell your story.
4. Make you feel safe again
Avoid working for years in a team in which you feel unsafe. If it is not possible to find a solution together within the organization, it is sometimes better to look for another workplace: somewhere where you feel comfortable and where you are appreciated by your colleagues.
If it is a recurring pattern and you are often excluded or disadvantaged by colleagues, it can be useful to talk to a coach. Together you can then look at the way in which you conduct yourself in your work. How can you learn to profile yourself better and become more assertive? How can you make yourself more resilient to these kinds of situations?
5. Get Help
What if the contact with a colleague is so disrupted that you are no longer able to work with that person. If the contact is so disrupted that you can no longer work together with a colleague, then you actually have a labor dispute. It is then recommended that you seek help in this case. Often there is a counselor in the company to share your feelings with. Ultimately, you will also need to discuss this with your manager. Who knows, he or she may mediate between you or arrange the work in such a way that you no longer have to work together.
6. See if mediation is a solution
Draw a line somewhere. Try to get ahead of the conflict, but if that doesn’t work, enlist the help of a third, independent person who can help you get out of it. If it concerns a specific colleague that you can no longer work with, mediation is sometimes the only solution. It is important that you both recognize that there is a conflict. Then express all your feelings and irritations.
Think carefully beforehand about what exactly is bothering you. Try to find out together when the first irritations arose and try to find the cause of the conflict. Also, think about your own role in it. How did you personally contribute to the eventual conflict? Then come up with possible solutions in consultation and make agreements about this. The presence of a third person, mediator or supervisor, can help to conduct the conversation in a constructive manner. Evaluate after an agreed period and check whether you both keep to the agreements.
Sometimes the working relationship is so disrupted that it is better to part ways, sometimes it can still be resolved by discussing it with each other. Enlist help where necessary, involve your manager, or submit it to the confidential counselor in the organization. In any case, make sure that this situation is stopped as soon as possible.
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