Are you happy with the company you work for, yet find yourself having a few problems with your fellow employees? Do you find yourself having to deal with social cliques at work?

Employees can form tight-knit social cliques at the office, and whether they realize it or not other people can feel excluded or disadvantaged by these social cliques.

It can be exciting to be a member of the clique. They might even be considered the ‘cool group’.

Yet it’s not so exciting if you are constantly excluded.

Forming friendships at work is normal and healthy but what do you do if your co-workers form their own private club and don’t want you as a member?

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How to Deal with Social Cliques at Work

Here are my tips on how to deal with social cliques at work.

Form your own tribe

Are the ‘cool group’ popping out for frequent lunches and constantly planning social events? Are they discussing the highlights of the weekend’s escapades while hovering around each others’ cubicles on Monday?

First up – take a deep breath.

Then take a look around you. Check out the other cubicle/desk dwellers. Most likely, unless you work in a small company, you are not the only one being excluded.

Ask the people left behind out for lunch. Form your own group. Get to know each other.

In a social situation, say over lunch or a drink at the end of the day, they are more likely to open up. You may be pleasantly surprised talking to the person you previously thought you had nothing in common with.

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Don’t make it about ‘Us and Them’

While forming your own tribe is good, try to avoid the mentality of ‘Us and Them’.

This attitude will only drive a stronger wedge between the people you have to work with on a daily basis.

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Improve your existing work relationships

You are bound to have people at work that you get on well with either professionally, personally, or both.

Instead of focusing on being left out of the clique, focus on building better relationships with your existing friends and colleagues at work.

Some one-on-one time might be more conducive to strengthening your relationship than socializing in a large group.

Related post – The 12 Types of People You Will Talk to About Work

Reinforce the connections within your work team

Work teams often splinter into subsectors by way of design, smaller workgroups within a large team stick together or groups are formed through levels of seniority.

Where appropriate, focus on the team as a whole instead of the smaller components. Organize work and social functions that focus on getting the whole team together.

For Managers aware of division in their group, at your next team function have people sitting in designated spots (name tags on the table can help) so that employees are sitting next to someone they are not as familiar with.

Look further afield

Let’s look at an example. If you work in sales, it can be easy to spend your time surrounded by other salespeople, yet never meet with the lovely woman in accounts who processes your orders. Though you may speak to the person in accounts regularly on the phone (most likely when you want something), when was the last time you caught up for a quick coffee or popped by her desk to speak to her in person?

Make an effort to befriend people outside of your workgroup, department, or floor.

Work kitchens can be a great place to socialize with people.

Instead of running in and quickly grabbing your tea or coffee, make an effort to speak to new people. Find out their first names and refer to them by name in the future.

Rushing about can result in a lot of quick conversations with no substance, so when you have the opportunity slow down and try to have more meaningful conversations.

Related post12 Best Books on Having Better Conversations

What if the clique invites you along?

The truth is the group may not realize they are excluding you, particularly if they are a group of employees who have simply formed close friendships out of work due to similar interests.

Remember they may not be excluding you on purpose.

If they should ask you to join them for lunch and you want to go, then you should join in. If not a polite decline is the best approach.

Most likely, sometimes you will get invited and sometimes you won’t. Don’t be one of those people who get bent out of shape if they are not asked along to every function, every time.

What not to do?

Don’t assume you have done something wrong if you are being excluded.

Don’t worry that you have upset someone. If you are the sort of person who is going to lose sleep over being excluded, one option could be to politely and discreetly ask a person in the group that you get on well with, if there is a problem.

Another option (my preferred one) is to not take it personally. Worrying about cliques at work is a waste of your precious time and energy. That’s energy that could be best channeled elsewhere.

Related post5 Ways to Stop Taking Things Personally

Don’t let it affect your work

Ultimately you are paid to work. 

You are there to do a job. Don’t let cliques at your place of employment distract you from the task at hand.

Produce great work, keep working towards your goals, and be proud of your achievements. Use the tips above to allow the social aspect of work to fall into place.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends on social media. You never know who might have to deal with a social clique at work today!

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