work cliques
November 13, 2007 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Social situation at work is making feel like I'm in junior high again. What is the appropriate response?

I was invited to colleague A's home along with a few other colleagues for drinks after work on a Friday. It was good fun. A couple weeks later that same colleague A indicated that she planned to see me at colleague B's home after work, and I indicated that I didn't get that invitation. Colleague A is a little embarrassed and insists that it was just an oversight. Not so. This group has continued to meet without including me, which is fine, until colleague A invites me back to her house with the same group of people.

Most of my social life is centered around work, which is not a good thing, but it's what I have right now. I really like colleague A (in fact I really like the other folks who apparently don't like hanging with me), appreciate the invitation, and would like to spend some down time with her, but how do I handle the other part of the problem?
posted by SMP to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see the problem. Continue to accept Colleague A's invitations, have a good time, and don't worry about the parties you don't get invited to. What about having a social gathering at your house?
posted by chiababe at 4:50 PM on November 13, 2007

Maybe they just need to get used to you being around. You're new, so you're easy to forget. I find myself doing this to new friends all the time - it just takes awhile to remember to include them with the regular group.
posted by chundo at 4:57 PM on November 13, 2007

You know, the marketeers don't like hanging around the geeks. I mean, they will but it isn't their first (second, or third) choices. So what? This isn't junior high anymore.

As chiababe sez, go when you're invited, do your own thing when not, hold your own events, and don't worry about any of it.

Additionally, if you like doing stuff with A, then set something up with just the two of you. Why not?
posted by trinity8-director at 4:57 PM on November 13, 2007

2nding chiababe. This problem only exists in your head.

When you see the others add A's house, put a big old smile on your face and laugh heartily at their lame jokes. Have a great time. You're awesome.
posted by mpls2 at 4:59 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

It may be that the group at B's has been doing the same thing with the same people for a while and just like to keep it small. So it really may be just force of habit than anything against you. Some tight knit groups are hard to break into and that's just the way it is.

Of course even if this just really catty behavior, which I definitely have seen in the workplace, I would just ignore it and try to get to know A better.

If you have something at your house I wouldn't invite just the little group, I'd invite other people from work too, then it won't be like you are trying to break into their little "clique" and you'll get to know some other people who aren't so cliquish.
posted by whoaali at 5:00 PM on November 13, 2007

ugh, i feel your pain. i would go to the events you are invited to, and have a good time. i would make an effort to be friendly with the other folks--if for no other reason than to rise above any pettiness.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:26 PM on November 13, 2007

I sympathize (more than a bunch of other people here, it seems), but it sounds like the best way to ease into the larger social group is exactly what you're doing right now.

It is hard to expect other people to invite you to their home. It's one thing if people are just going out to a bar and explicitly keeping this information from you, but it's another thing to feel obliged to invite someone into your own home because they are part of a group that is a little larger and more nebulous than the group you would naturally invite.

Hopefully you can enjoy the events at A's place without feeling like you're being snubbed by the others. If you do, I wouldn't be surprised if you'll get integrated into the larger group more over time.
posted by dfan at 6:58 PM on November 13, 2007

I think the poster hasn't explained what has happened. I think that A has been coming up to him and saying "why don't we get together after the party." The poster is in a bind--he doesn't want her to feel awkward or to let her know that he hasn't been to the party, but he still wants to hang out with her. The problem is that if A doesn't know that he didn't get an invite, then she might assume he is blowing her off when he doesn't show up at the event and subsequently at A's house. The problem is therefore real.

The solution is to be honest. "A, I'd like to hang out, but I never seem to get those invites. Maybe you and I can get together some other time."
posted by Ironmouth at 7:23 PM on November 13, 2007

There's probably some inner circle social hierarchy taking place here. Perhaps your colleagues feel that if they invite you, they would have to invite a handful of other non-inner circle people, which would then turn their small intimate gathering into a bigger event than they want.

I wouldn't sweat it, just make some alternate plans with your other work friend.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:31 PM on November 13, 2007

I've noticed something similar since moving to a new department at my workplace recently. There is a very clear clique of younger people, who all eat lunch together and seem to go out drinking together as well. These people are all my immediate co-workers (they do the same job I do), but I have never been invited to participate in any of their activities.

Upon thinking about the situation dispassionately, I realized that there are actually quite a lot of other people in the department who are also at the same level, who are not part of this group. Also, I am really over the "sitting together in the lunchroom" stage of life anyway.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:04 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would only worry if everybody in your company or department except you was invited over to B's house; and if you were being made to feel like the office pariah at work.

If on the other hand they are nice to you at work, and you notice that this is a particular clique or group that is going over to B's house, etc. (rather than the whole department excluding you) then I wouldn't sweat it. Maybe B just likes to invite a select few people over to his house and doesn't want those little parties to turn into a mob scene. Maybe after a while you will be in that select little group. Otherwise, it's OK to not be "in" with every clique.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:17 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

If indeed there is some sort of social favoritism going on, and you are not privy to it and/or not feeling included, it's better if you alter the situation such that you don't know about it. Ignorance is bliss. After a while, you won't wonder or care or even think about what they are doing without you. Find ways to fill your time doing other, more rewarding things. Spend that time cultivating confidence and kicking ass at your job. You will feel much better expending energy on that endeavor. You decide what level of social interaction you have with coworkers, not them. Don't view zero interaction as social failure, view it as professional divide. It doesn't reflect on your worthiness either way.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:02 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

What's the issue? Just continue going to the events you are invited to at A's house. If B doesn't invite you out, is it really such a big issue?
posted by chunking express at 7:04 AM on November 14, 2007

And I'd look to do things outside of work. Start doing Yoga or take a class or whatever. There are other ways to meet people.
posted by chunking express at 7:05 AM on November 14, 2007

Give up trying to be friends with colleague B. That means don't always be the first to greet them in the halls. Or it means toning down any obsequiousness on your part. The problem, it seems, is that you want to be part of the group and they don't want you to be in the group. The only thing you can change is how much you want to be in the group.
posted by philosophistry at 9:10 PM on November 14, 2007

I'm sorry this situation has got you feeling down. I feel for you and don't think there's anything wrong with seeking a solution.

Not knowing all the details of the situation, my best advice would be to get to know Colleague B and his/her friends a little better. Like one of the other posters said, maybe it's not personal, and maybe B just doesn't invite you over like A does because he doesn't know you as well.

I'm not sure how large this group is, but if you do like them and want to be friends with them, maybe suggest some get-togethers at a neutral place like a bar or restaurant happy hour.

If the business with Colleague B and what you perceive to be his or her exclusiveness is something you don't want to deal with, there's nothing wrong with continuing your friendship with A outside this group. There are cliques at every workplace, and you don't have to take them as an all-or-nothing deal. Colleague A has already shown to you that she likes spending time with you by extending her own invitations. You have no obligation to be anything but workplace-cordial with the others.

Good luck to you.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 8:38 AM on November 15, 2007

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