How not to feel bad about coworker slights
May 13, 2015 5:06 PM   Subscribe

My coworker is excluding me from social gatherings she has planned with other coworkers. How do I not feel so crappy about this? Am I over-reacting or being overly sensitive?

I work for a large, international company, at its headquarters office, supporting our staff members in a particular region of the world. I work on a small team with two other people. I began working here just a couple of months ago. I generally get along pretty well with my coworkers, but one of my close team members who has worked there for a couple of years has done this thing more than once where we'll have team members from abroad visiting and she spends a lot of time hanging out with them but only invites me to some things.

Overall, I know that doesn't sound that terrible, at least written out like that. It's just that there have been one or two specific incidences where I feel like she's more or less slighted me. For example, we currently have three different staff members visiting who both of us work with on a more or less regular basis, here for the week. A few of us went out to lunch the other day (at my coworker's initiative), and I've been chatting with them here and there in the office, but overall I haven't had a ton of interaction with all of them. My coworker apparently made plans with one of them to come over to her house for dinner tonight, as near as I can tell, and when we were interacting with the other two together today in the office, in meetings etc, she invited them in front of me to go over to her place and have dinner but didn't bother to extend the invitation to me. I guess I felt kind of disappointed and a little offended because we both work with these people and I would like to get to know them better. She already has preexisting relationships with them, so it would be nice if she would do something to help me get to know them a bit better. It makes me feel like she doesn't like me for some reason, because she's being so open about inviting everyone who is in town visiting but not me.

A similar thing happened a month or two ago where we had someone else visiting. I had taken the initiative to invite my coworker and the visiting staff member to hang out during the weekend, but hadn't finalized the plans because I had to leave for the day before all of us could touch base. My coworker said she would call me and let me know what they decided about the location and time. She apparently then spent the whole evening hanging out with the person visiting and they decided on the location and time, but she only bothered to call me and tell me where and when they were meeting after I'd texted and called her the next morning, and only 20 minutes before they were going to meet.

I don't feel like I can say anything to her about this, because it just feels needy or pathetic or something and like it would create tension. But I just feel kind of shitty, and I worry that this is somehow a sign that she doesn't like me or doesn't enjoy working with me. Am I being overly sensitive about this? How would you interpret her actions? What can I do to reassure myself and not let this bother me so much?
posted by knownfossils to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try not to think about it too much. When traveling from abroad a nice homecoming meal is super nice and is at no cost to the traveler who may be staying in a hotel. You can go to your nice cozy home and eat whatever you want. Addressing the issue will just cause tension in the workplace. Besides I have a rule that I never ever go to a coworkers home. Coffee maybe. Lunch sure. But dinner at their home is just too much for me.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:18 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

To be blunt- She doesn't have to hang out with you on her own time. She doesn't owe you anything. If you want her to treat you like a friend and invite you to things at her home or on the weekend- you need to be her personal friend.

If you don't want to be her friend- you're going to have to build up those relationships with the visiting people on your own. She isn't obligated to do so.
posted by Blisterlips at 5:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]

Try making friends outside of work and otherwise occupying yourself. Maybe this person doesn't want to be your friend, or maybe you just haven't been there long enough to break into the group. Either way, bringing it up would probably create drama and that should be avoided at work.

That said, feeling left out sucks, even if it isn't meant to be malicious. I have felt that way before. These days, I generally try to spend social time with people who actively seek my company.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

She sees you all the time at work. Why should she have to see you in her home as well? I think that you are being overly sensitive about this. It's really nice that she welcomes visiting workers into her home. If they lived there, and she saw them as often as she saw you, she would not be hosting them so much.
posted by myselfasme at 5:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Am I being overly sensitive about this? Yes.

How would you interpret her actions? I'd say that she's your coworker and you should treat her as such. If you want to hang out with other people it's up to you to take the initiative and not her. She doesn't have to be your friend outside of the workplace. Sorry, that's not her job.

What can I do to reassure myself and not let this bother me so much? See above. Coworkers are thrown together by happenstance, not because they want to be together. Your only job is to be polite and friendly with her while you're at work. Same with her. Don't feel slighted by her because she choses not to spend her off time with you. I mean, that's her time, she can spend it as she wishes. Feel free to do the same.

On preview, what Blisterlips said.
posted by patheral at 5:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Since you've only been there a couple of months, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by invisible ink at 5:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ugh this would make me feel really sucky too, but here's my secret to not feeling quite as sucky: it's never about us, even if it seems that way. If you find yourself fixating on what it must mean about you, stop and try to come up with as many reasons as you can for why it probably isn't about you. Then pick one and affirm it over and over. "Emily hasn't invited me to X because Y and that's totally okay." Even if it really is because she doesn't like you, that has to do with her and how she views the world. I understand why this doesn't feel good though.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

Sounds like she's trying to be a good host to visiting co-worker/friends. They've known each other a while, there's history there. They're most likely going to catch up, reminisce, dish about management and people who've left, etc. They wouldn't really be able to do that in the same way with a new person there.

Since you're still new, you're in the circle of straight-up co-workers. That's not a bad thing, it just takes a while to get to know people. (Maybe you'll be invited to a night out with a larger group, including newer staff, if something like that happens.)

I wouldn't rely on her to facilitate friendships for you, though. You'll do that yourself, by working with people over time.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:58 PM on May 13, 2015

It seems like you are both hurt that she doesn't want to hang out with you the way she does with the international visitors and that she's not helping you get to know the international visitors.

International visitors are transient. She works with you all the time. They don't have a life and home to return to in your city because they are visitors. You do. Even though you are new, you are not a visitor and it is completely normal to treat visitors differently than resident co-workers.

She already has preexisting relationships with them, so it would be nice if she would do something to help me get to know them a bit better.

Why? You can get to know them better yourself, why does she need to organise this for you? I'm confused. If she's inviting everyone else in the office and not you, then that's definitely excluding you and you're totally right to feel hurt. But if she's just invited the visitors, with whom she already has a relationship, why should she go out of her way to make you feel included?

If you want to get to know these visitors better, take the initiative and organise something. You say you already tried this and it sounds like it did turn out a little oddly - but don't let this stop you from trying again! Your co-workers aren't under any obligation to organise your social life, with or without other co-workers.

It sounds like you're not actually very close with this co-worker at a personal/social level, just at an organisational level. If you want to be friends with her, you need to work on that when there aren't distractions in the form of visitors. But be prepared that she may not want to be friends with you. It sucks, but there you are.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify the bit about thinking it would be nice if she'd help facilitate things: I see your point, and probably I will develop more of those relationships by continuing to work there over a longer period of time. It's just that these people really only visit once, maybe twice a year, for short periods during which they are very busy, so there are limited opportunities to get to know them. I feel like if I were in her position, I would do my best to be inclusive for the sake of helping to increase team cohesion, though maybe that's just me and I can see that not everyone would feel that same impulse. The current crop of people are also more senior people, so I would feel strange asking them to interact socially just by myself.

I like my coworker and would be happy to be her friend, which is another reason this bothers me, I guess, though I can't really control that beyond being friendly to her.

Thanks for the advice thus far. Hermione Granger's thoughts were pretty useful.
posted by knownfossils at 6:13 PM on May 13, 2015

you know, she may have no idea that you are even interested in going too- maybe she doesn't want to burden you with work stuff. You say you' d be inclusive in her place, but she's a different person and may be thinking differently. Most likely, it's nothing personal.
posted by bearette at 6:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

An office isn't like an elementary school classroom--the whole class doesn't get Valentines or party invitations. Your colleague has known these people longer than she's known you--of course, she can issue an invitation without including you--she's not deliberately snubbing you, she's making plans with someone else. Work friends are not like private life friends. Yes, it may have been a bit gauche of her to talk about dinner without including you, but in the big scheme of things, this is a minor faux pas.
If you want to get to know the out-of-towners better, give it time.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

I just invited a limited set of coworkers to my home. I excluded some I am work-friendly with, and like a great deal. I excluded some who I find a bit abrasive, even though they are part of my "peer group". It's because my home time is my home time, and I don't have to socialize or hostess anyone I don't really click with or wouldn't appreciate the event I'm hostessing (beer tasting).

I work in an environment so similar to yours that for the first paragraph, I thought you were a coworker excluded from my event. If you were, I'd feel bad that you felt bad. But it's not, as Ideefixe says, it's not a second grade birthday.
posted by slateyness at 8:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I think these comments about it being a second grade birthday or whatever are kind of unwarranted. I am well aware that my coworker doesn't have to invite me to everything. I never said otherwise. All I said was that if it were me and I worked on a small team with someone supporting this specific group of people who were in town for a very limited period of time, I would try to include that person in a social event that I arranged with the group of people that we support, because I think it's generally good to try to help the people I support network with someone else who can provide similar help, and because I would want to make my coworker feel included. I think that's a reasonable point of view to have, even if it's not my coworker's view, whether because she just wasn't thinking in those terms or for any other reason. Sheesh.
posted by knownfossils at 9:07 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think you might be lucky. If I were new, I would be exhausted from the start up. She is at her pace, and she rolls this way because she has the slack to do so. You might just kick back a bit and give it all more time until you find your pace. You might find you have been well served, it will just take time and trust to get comfortable.
posted by Oyéah at 9:13 PM on May 13, 2015

I don't think you're wrong that in a company with your structure, it would be good practice to hold at least one event where people could drink, eat, get to know each other, etc. That's happened at lots of places I've worked. It's usually a senior person who initiates that kind of thing, quasi-formally, though, not a co-worker.

And it sounds like you have been invited to some evenings, just not all of them.

Try not to take it to heart, and as someone above said, focus on getting to know people when the out-of-towners aren't visiting. (But also, if you are consciously angling for this co-worker to be your social "in" more generally because she's got some kind of capital, it might be she's picked up on that [and dislikes it]. Maybe take it easy for a bit, and relax your expectations of her.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:28 PM on May 13, 2015

One usually hangs out with office friends to complain about bosses and goasip about old coworkers, none of which would be any fun for you.

Or, they could all belong to the same Christian Bible group / furry convention / etc. You have no way of knowing. Make up whatever story is the most comforting and tell it to yourself until you don't care about not being invited.

Also, team cohesion is your boss's job, not yours. Some workplaces pretend they're a big fraternity, others actively discourage outside fraternization by employees.
posted by benzenedream at 1:49 AM on May 14, 2015

Inviting someone to your home is a lot more personal than inviting people to happy hour at a bar or restaurant. If she were inviting the whole office to drinks after work and excluding you, that would be pretty rude. Maybe, your coworker just doesn't feel comfortable inviting you to her house because she doesn't know you as well. It's also more work and money hosting multiple people rather than just one. This could be a reason you repeat to yourself to have a more charitable view of your coworker.

I like my coworker and would be happy to be her friend, which is another reason this bothers me, I guess, though I can't really control that beyond being friendly to her.

Have you tried inviting your coworker to hang out when there are no visitors? It might be easier to cultivate the friendship when it's just you and her. Speaking from the other side, I like it when people want to hang out with me, not just me + others. So it might be a good way to start, and then maybe you would feel more comfortable doing the inviting when there are visitors (though you should take note of your own feelings and try to invite anyone else in the office you think would like to come).
posted by bluefly at 4:45 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well I for one, think her inviting everyone in the room EXCEPT YOU to socialize after work is pretty shitty. She is under no obligation to hang out with you of course, but she could have better grace than to make you feel awkward and rejected at your work. Its not like you have a choice about being there. If she wants to invite everyone except you, there are other ways she could do it so you didn't wind up feeling sad and rejected. Shame on her for her lack of social skills and compassion.

The best thing I think you can do is just be kind to yourself. Be friendly and pleasant to everyone including that co worker. If its just a mater of her getting to know you better, time will pass and that will happen naturally. If its a thing where she is excluding you for a purpose, her snobbishness will begin to grate on others who have gotten to know you well. Basically if you are a nice person and someone else is not, people are going to gravitate to you eventually. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not the folks who are just visiting, because they don't have time to figure out the way things stand, but plenty of people will. Come to think of it, maybe that's why she is in such a hurry to do stuff with the outoftowners, maybe everyone else has her number and doesn't want to hang out with her? Or maybe not. In any case, just be professional, be pleasant and be nice to yourself. I think things will work themselves out. Give it time. Sorry this has happened to you.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:44 AM on May 14, 2015

Best answer: I'm just going to hop in and say I think that it's a good idea that you drop the "If it were me, I'd..." line of thought. That's a great way to build resentment for absolutely no reason, and is flawed logic anyhow. There's SO many innocent and maybe even very valid reasons that this person doesn't invite you into her home for dinner...there are things that you can't possibly know that would affect the situation, so the "if it were me"s have got to go if you want to stop feeling bad about this.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

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