Should I ask my coworkers why I wasn't invited to hang out with them?
October 22, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Today there was a picture of eight of my coworkers hanging out together on our day off on Instagram, and from the instant I saw it I was filled with anxiety about it: why wasn't I invited?

I work in a very small restaurant so this picture represents almost half of my coworkers, including several I am friendly with outside of work. The thing is, even if I had been invited, I wasn't available- but being snubbed is really hurting me right now. Am I right do be upset? Do I just pretend this never happened, or can I ask about it at work tomorrow? If so, how do I bring it up?
posted by tumbleweedjack to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's no socially acceptable way to bring up a party you weren't invited to. It will make people very uncomfortable because, well, if there is a reason that revolves around not enjoying your company, saying it to your face isn't something most people would be comfortable doing. That leaves the other option, which is lying to you and most people are really, really bad at lying, especially on the spot.

And, yeah, you can totally be upset. It stings to feel excluded, so, yeah, feel free to feel bad about not being invited. But don't feel bad about yourself. You have no idea why you weren't invited, you probably won't guess right if you try, and trying to quantify every flaw you think you have while feeling shitty is an awful idea.
posted by griphus at 6:18 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Why weren't you available? Were you working? If you were working, and they knew you were working, you weren't snubbed because you weren't available and they knew that.

But really, man, the only real answer to your question you will only get from your coworkers. All the answers you get here are bullshit speculation. If you really want to know why, ask your coworkers. But like griphus mentions, there's no easy way about it.

If you want to just hang out with a bunch of them, organize an event and invite everyone. Invite your coworkers that you know can't come anyway too, don't forget.
posted by carsonb at 6:20 PM on October 22, 2012

You can feel however you feel; if you're upset you're upset and that's okay. But it wasn't all of your co-workers hanging out without you so I doubt you were being snubbed.

My godmother told me something once that has stuck with me and something I tell my kids quite a lot: no one thinks about you as much as you think about you. So, it could have been an oversight, maybe the organizer knew you were busy that day, maybe it was some random weird coincidence that they all were together at the same place, who knows.

I don't think any good can come of you asking why you weren't invited. It sounds desperate, to be frank, and I don't think that's how you want to be perceived.
posted by cooker girl at 6:22 PM on October 22, 2012 [22 favorites]

Last second thing. They knew you weren't able to go. They hate your guts. They knew it was something you didn't like doing. We can't tell you unless one of us happens to be one of them.

Don't worry about it. If it happens a lot, then maybe worry about it. Which isn't to say that you're wrong or weird for worrying about it, just that in the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal. But just express some interest in hanging out outside of work.

I used to not get invited to stuff all the time because I'd always talk about wanting to get home to see my wife. They didn't have a problem with me. They wouldn't have cared if I'd tagged along. But they knew I wouldn't and just didn't ask.
posted by theichibun at 6:27 PM on October 22, 2012

This kind of thing is why people take breaks from social media. My Facebook was filled with photos of weddings and parties I wasn't invited to last week. Ten years ago I would never have been the wiser, but now we're all intimately acquainted with every event our friends participate in without us.

The absolute most you can say at work is, "Hey, how was your day off?" If they volunteer a story about what they were up to, and suggest that next time you should come along if you want, great. If not, then leave it be.

If you're in a place where this kind of thing is frequently making you anxious, please consider taking a big step back from Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/whatever. It helps! I swear!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:55 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd ask, politely. But I'd rather have an awkward moment that spend the rest of my time at that job thinking everyone is a jerk.

Another option might be to say you saw the pictures and mention you'd like to come along next time, or initiate a night out and invite them.
posted by chairface at 8:29 PM on October 22, 2012

I work in a very small restaurant so this picture represents almost half of my coworkers, including several I am friendly with outside of work. The thing is, even if I had been invited, I wasn't available

If you want to, you can bring it up with them - nicely - but don't if you think it's going to come across as bitter or passive-aggressive.
posted by heyjude at 8:44 PM on October 22, 2012

There is nothing at all to be gained from bringing this up.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:55 PM on October 22, 2012

Don't bring it up. If they wanted you to know about it, they'd have told you. If it was an accident, they'll feel bad for not inviting you. If it was deliberate, then you're going to have to work with these people knowing that you're not as close friends as you thought you were and/or that there's an undercurrent of dislike within the group.

Being friendly with someone doesn't mean that you always have to go to every social occasion together. It might be that they just wanted a smaller, more intimate thing, especially as over half of the workforce wasn't there. If you were the only person not invited, then I think that the situation would be different, but it doesn't seem like that's the case. Situations like this are one of the downsides of being overly friendly with one's work colleagues - there are two sets of social norms interacting and they don't always get along.

Organising something yourself is a very good idea. People like socialising but they often don't want to bother with arranging a time and place. I generally organise the outings in my workplace and people seem to respond well. There have been occasions where specific people haven't been invited, but those people's behaviour in the workplace was seriously inappropriate (sexual harassment) to the point of not wanting to spend time with those individuals while working, let alone when we weren't being paid to do so.

Ultimately, I'd guess that this isn't about you. It doesn't seem like you were singled out here. If you bring it up at work, it's going to cause drama and quite probably lessen the chances of you being invited in the future.
posted by Solomon at 11:21 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it was me I'd have to ask. Just be super upbeat and casual about it:

- "Looked like from Instagram you guys had a super fun time on Monday, what did you get up to?"
- "A few of us are comic book fans so we went to that exhibition that's on at the contemporary art gallery."
- "Ah awesome. If there's another one invite me along, I'm a super geek."
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:23 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It would be off-putting and likely undermine existing positive feelings about you to inquire. Be gracious about it by not making it about you, since it probably isn't.

griphus, carsonb, cookergirl, and Solomon have good advice. Own your feelings, but don't let them fixate on any specific thing about yourself, because that's just madness.

Plan something and be inclusive. Just make sure there's a bit of space between this event and yours so that it doesn't seem like you're trying to coast on the energy of that outing.
posted by batmonkey at 11:59 PM on October 22, 2012

Try to let it go. It may be something simple, like an event that came up out of the blue and wasn't planned, and so wasn't thoroughly inclusive. It may be that they knew you weren't available. It may be that there was a spontaneous "Who wants to do X?" and you just happened to not be there for that part, and were unintentionally left out.

I have a hard time not taking this stuff personally, so I always ask, and it has never - not one time - never ever ever worked out in a way that wasn't at least a little more awkward than if I'd have just let it go. Most of the time it's not been personal, and my prodding at the issue just created awkward tension.
posted by nile_red at 7:12 AM on October 23, 2012

A minority of your coworkers, only a few of whom you are friendly with, did something together without you.

This almost certainly not an issue unless you make it one.

Also, mentioning it at all will make you appear clingy, needy, and insecure, all of which are generally off-putting.
posted by jsturgill at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are going to have to let it go. You can feel hurt and left out. But at the end of the day, for whatever reason, you weren't invited.

This is not something to fixate on, I'm sure they didn't get together and tell each other, "Hey, keep it on the QT, we don't want tumbleweedjack to find out."

Let this remind you that it's important not to put all your eggs in one basket, friend-wise.

Be the same at work as you always are, and I'm sure you'll be invited to the next thing. If it seems that you're deliberately being excluded, oh well. You have other friends, and while it's kind of sucky, sometimes it happens that way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2012

I will share with you an explanation that may be true or close to the truth.

These eight people were all together and said to each other, "let's all do X thing." Then they thought about the fact that if they invited anyone else, they would have to invite everyone from work. So it was decided it would just be the eight of them.

Unless you have a strong reason to believe that you're unliked or nobody wants you in the group, I wouldn't worry.

I don't think it's needy, desperate, bitter, or passive-aggressive to just say "why didn't you invite me." Well, it is to strangers or polite acquaintances, it isn't to friends. Which side of the fold do your coworkers fall on? Nobody reading this question knows this. Trust your gut.
posted by kettleoffish at 4:59 PM on October 23, 2012

I struggle with the same feelings you have of being excluded from things my friends do, but there are *so* many reasons why people don't get invited to do something, and I try to remind myself of those at times like these:

-- someone in the group knew you were busy, so when your name came up, they said 'Nah, he's got that thing'
-- the plan was made in a super casual way among people who happened to be on the same shift, at the same after hours 3 weeks ago, or involved in the same conversation about whatever activity they did
-- the person organizing the group was one of the people you don't normally hang out with outside of work
-- the person organizing the group doesn't have your cell phone number
-- 8 people was already a largish group for that activity and once they hit that number they didn't invite any more, and you weren't one of the first 8 co-workers they saw

Sure 'someone hates you and blackballed you', 'everyone hates you and deliberately excluded you' and 'no one ever thinks of you so you were forgotten' are possibilities, but if your relationship with your co-workers is generally good and you're not generally socially clueless, they're unlikely. I know how hard it is not to dwell on them, but it doesn't do any good. If that's the problem, you'll never be told anyway.

You can bring the photo up, not to ask about why you were excluded, but to demonstrate that you saw the photos and think the activity sounded like fun. But only if you think your acting chops are good enough to pull it off without coming across as bitter.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:17 AM on October 27, 2012

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