[advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

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[advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by kath on Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:27 am

Recently, there have been a few social things with people from work where I was invited to them last year, and wasn't invited this year (but I know they were happening - in one case I was asked if I was going by not!the planner, other cases people are talking about it occasionally). I'm feeling left out, and I'm not doing a great job managing those emotions, so if anyone has advice for that, I would appreciate it!

I'm not sure why I'm getting invited. I'd like to ask, but also, you get to decide who you invite to your party and I don't get to question it! I'm not sure if there's some etiquette thing I'm missing (not sure what, I am not a raucous party guest, I bring food / drinks ... however I don't host things), or if people notice that I'm not at my socially-strongest at parties and just don't invite me because they don't think I have a good time, or if they just forget. Really, that doesn't actually matter.

But I do slip into a brain black hole thinking about it, and I'm not liking that very much!
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by 8bitGreyscale on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:12 pm

Just making sure, but did you go to the events last year? Or went to some, skipped others, or skipped all of them?
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by Werel on Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:07 pm

How's your social life outside of work people? Relying entirely on a kinda mercurial/cliquish group of people for all socializing needs is a rough position to be in; sustainability-via-diversity is as solid an approach in social lives as in biology, if you can swing it. By which I mean that it's much easier to shrug off feeling left out of one group if you have another group (or two or three) where you can allocate your social points. Multiple outlets = failure in one outlet is less catastrophic.

It also might help to keep in mind that work-related social circles tend to make mountains out of molehills because there's often already so much built-in tension and frustration, and there are a lot of not-personal factors that can lead to some people being excluded (e.g. are you a supervisor? Are you in charge of disciplining anyone? Are you responsible for assessments? Did you make an unpopular management choice? etc.)

And it's okay to feel crappy about social exclusion for a minute when it happens. We've all got a kid inside us who's sad that they didn't get picked for kickball; be nice to that kid for a little bit right after the sting, then dust yourself off, say "eh, I could give or take those people," and focus on the people/activities at the top of your priority list.
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by BasedBuzzed on Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:41 pm

^This.

For the mental aspect: imagine how someone else might have felt left out of stuff you were at, while you yourself would think the person didn't really miss anything by not being there, and imagine instances in which you felt left out while you were at an event because you didn't get the in-joke, or people were temporarily doing an activity you didn't enjoy.

Also, invite work peeps to stuff you are going to anyway and are not organizing yourself beyond dumping a time you can travel together/carpooling in order to score activity organizer credits without having to do any actual work you don't have time for.

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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by kath on Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:33 pm

Thanks for all of your thoughts and input!

8bitGreyscale wrote:Just making sure, but did you go to the events last year? Or went to some, skipped others, or skipped all of them?

I did go to them. I am pretty busy in general, but I don't think I begged off ... any of these types of things that I was invited to. I may not have seemed like I was having a ton of fun though, I am pretty subdued at parties normally.

Werel wrote:How's your social life outside of work people? Relying entirely on a kinda mercurial/cliquish group of people for all socializing needs is a rough position to be in; sustainability-via-diversity is as solid an approach in social lives as in biology, if you can swing it. By which I mean that it's much easier to shrug off feeling left out of one group if you have another group (or two or three) where you can allocate your social points. Multiple outlets = failure in one outlet is less catastrophic.

I don't go to lots of parties, because I actually don't like parties a lot. I run my social life in a pretty "official" way - I do a lot of volunteering and I am much more comfortable there. I don't tend to plan or go to tons of unstructured stuff outside that, and I am active in communities so that I can show up to public events and run into people and don't have to plan them with anyone. For other unstructured stuff, I go to a lot of it with my family, who I like hanging out with. I also went to a party an old friend hosted a while ago and it was like ... not great. So many "..." conversations.

I think one of the reasons I prefer that is I seem to have more luck with random good conversations in the "public event about something" type events than at parties.

I used to be in a critical theory art book club, but the organizer moved away and I don't have the wherewithall (/time) to make that happen. One of my friends did start a book club that begins in January, so I'm going to try that. I suppose I could try making the critical theory thing happen again.

For these parties, one of them was super amazing and I would love to go to it again. However I'm not 100% sure why that person invited me, I don't know her terribly well. She used to have my job, so lots of people from work were at that party, nto entirely sure how I got included. For the other, I didn't know many people and didn't have a terribly good time, so that one is only a "you invited me last year Sad" loss.

I am (currently) pretty heavily a weak-ties person.

Werel wrote:
It also might help to keep in mind that work-related social circles tend to make mountains out of molehills because there's often already so much built-in tension and frustration, and there are a lot of not-personal factors that can lead to some people being excluded (e.g. are you a supervisor? Are you in charge of disciplining anyone? Are you responsible for assessments? Did you make an unpopular management choice? etc.)
I'm not in charge of any management or discipline, and I think (?) I'm reasonably popular as a coworker.

Werel wrote:And it's okay to feel crappy about social exclusion for a minute when it happens. We've all got a kid inside us who's sad that they didn't get picked for kickball; be nice to that kid for a little bit right after the sting, then dust yourself off, say "eh, I could give or take those people," and focus on the people/activities at the top of your priority list.
In the case of most of these people, I could actually totally not give or take them. They are wonderful. I just usually don't worry to much about being particular close with people, but I would like to be closer to them.

BasedBuzzed wrote:Also, invite work peeps to stuff you are going to anyway and are not organizing yourself beyond dumping a time you can travel together/carpooling in order to score activity organizer credits without having to do any actual work you don't have time for.
The first part of your advice is much appreciated, I was trying to think that stuff! Not great at it. Practice will hopefully help Razz.

For inviting people to stuff you are going to anyway .... I am TERRIBLE at this. I hate social organizing with a burning passion (I had one birthday drinks I was trying to plan where everyone bailed on me at the last minute and I was pretty much like "well, nuts to that"). I also don't always plan what I'm doing very far in advance. I will make an effort to try at this in a better way though. This may sound silly, but anyone have good scripts for this? I'm always like "uh it'll be awkward to invite someone to X thing" and it's like "don't be an idiot, no it won't, you would just be excited if someone did that."

I guess that's pretty much the issue. I would like to turn some work-friends into non-work-friends in a more ... specific way, but I don't have a good toolkit I'm comfortable with to do that. Read that Dale Carnegie book ... ?

But also, part of it is I just don't want to be upset, rather than be invited to more stuff. I don't generally feel like I'm hurting for stuff to do. Maybe if I spent the time I use feeling upset on building closer ties with the work people, I would both have the closer ties and not feel left out ... that hasn't seemed intuitive to me Razz.
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by Werel on Sun Dec 06, 2015 12:05 am

kath wrote:For these parties, one of them was super amazing and I would love to go to it again. However I'm not 100% sure why that person invited me, I don't know her terribly well.  She used to have my job, so lots of people from work were at that party, nto entirely sure how I got included.
Hey, this is so much less a thing to feel bad about than if this was someone you knew well! She probably literally forgot who you were/the planets didn't randomly align to land you on the guest list this time/she made some new Actual Friends in the past year and only has so much space in her house, so the don't-know-well guest list got pruned. I wouldn't even take that to heart as "exclusion" so much as "how the hell did I ever end up at that party"?

Not that it doesn't stink, because it was fun last year and could have been fun again; let this be a lesson that if you ever go to a party that is truly fun, try and stay in light contact with the organizer in some way for purely mercenary invitation reasons. Wink

kath wrote:In the case of most of these people, I could actually totally not give or take them. They are wonderful. I just usually don't worry to much about being particular close with people, but I would like to be closer to them... I would like to turn some work-friends into non-work-friends in a more ... specific way, but I don't have a good toolkit I'm comfortable with to do that.
Ahhhh, then that's a different thing. Like, you like them enough to want to go beyond weak-ties? Enough to want to (eek!) maybe organize a very, very low-key interaction like after-work drinks? I know the vast majority of my transitions from work-friend to real-friend have involved that kind of "want to go get a beer nearby after work because we're already here together in the same physical space so why not?" routine at first. It takes no planning, no effort, and the expectations for time committed are low (you can leave after 40 minutes and it's not weird). It's also okay to invite people to events your volunteer organizations are holding; I know I've crossed my social-circle streams by inviting coworkers who I liked but didn't know well to the public holiday events at the place where I volunteered, which always turned out to be fun. Bonus: it shows the potential friend that you've got other interesting sides/stuff going on in your life, and gives you some automatic conversation material in the way that community events generally do.

I also get invited to a lot of stuff by coworkers/classmates, and probably 75% of the time I'm not interested or don't have time, but I always make a point of saying "no, but I really appreciate the invite and ask me again later" iff it's true. For people I could really take or leave, I just say no; for people who I do want to maintain/strengthen ties with, I am always sure to make explicit the fact that I'm only saying no to this one thing, not their company in general. Do you do that when people invite you to things you're not into? Is it possible that people misinterpret a pattern of your "not this time"s to mean "...and not EVER"?
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Dec 06, 2015 1:13 pm

A tactic that has worked for me for turning work friends into outside of work friends was to start with lunch. (Assuming certain things about the work schedule) you're both there and have a lunch break every day and need to eat, so why not eat together. It's a casual thing to invite someone to, like "Wanna grab lunch with me? I was thinking of going to the diner."

If they say no, it's probably because they're going to work through lunch, or already have plans, or need some down time to recharge, or something similarly not personal. And it's totally fine to smile and say, "ok, maybe another time", and then, crucially, ask again another time, maybe a week later.

For me, having lunch with someone about once a week for a month or two was what it took to really start to feel closer with them. Also, you can be doing this simultaneously with several people, and be at different stages of closeness with different people.
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by sky on Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:07 am

kath wrote:For inviting people to stuff you are going to anyway .... I am TERRIBLE at this. I hate social organizing with a burning passion (I had one birthday drinks I was trying to plan where everyone bailed on me at the last minute and I was pretty much like "well, nuts to that"). I also don't always plan what I'm doing very far in advance. I will make an effort to try at this in a better way though. This may sound silly, but anyone have good scripts for this? I'm always like "uh it'll be awkward to invite someone to X thing" and it's like "don't be an idiot, no it won't, you would just be excited if someone did that."

I guess that's pretty much the issue. I would like to turn some work-friends into non-work-friends in a more ... specific way, but I don't have a good toolkit I'm comfortable with to do that. Read that Dale Carnegie book ... ?

For starting to make friends with people you know from work, I second the suggestion to invite them to lunch with you during the work day or dinner/drinks after work. Those are sort of the equivalent of the coffee date, where you can chat about something that's not work, and see if you still like spending time with each other when you're not working. I find it's fairly easy to invite them to other things from there if you want to, by just working the activity into the conversation.

To invite someone to something you're going to anyway, my script is really just "Hey $FRIEND, I'm going to do $THING on $DAY/at $TIME. Would you like to come with me/meet up there?" The key here is that it really is something you're planning to do anyway. If it's something you're only just considering attending and whether the friend wants to come along or not is what will tip your decision from going to staying home, then it will feel more like work to plan it, and discouraging if they say no.

I've been invited to several events this way and really the only time it's awkward is if the thing I'm being invited to presumes a way higher level of closeness than the person has with me. Brunch at the house of someone I met an hour ago? Thanks for inviting me but no thanks. Going out for food with the other people who attend a hobby meetup I just joined? Cool, where?

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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by kath on Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:21 am

Thanks guys, all of these scripts are great. I think I will make this my new year's resolution, to improve this skill set. I'll let you guys know how it goes and ask for more advice as I go, because you have all been most hepful.

Also, I am an idiot - I did end up getting invited to the second party, which is actually tonight. I ended up having a bad night - the event I run at work was last night, and it was extremely busy, so I'm not moving very fast today, and then on the way home I was in a minor fender bender (no injuries, not their fault), and my mom had emergency surgery in the wee hours of Thursday morning (she is also fine and back at home), so between all of that I just am so not up to anything. I've sent her an email thanking her for the invite and saying I was really sorry I could not make it (and I did tell her why), and saying I hope I can make it next time.

*headdesk*
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Re: [advice] Feeling left out - managing emotions

Post by Enail on Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:47 am

Oh man, Kath, what a stressful night! Glad you and your mom are both okay! (and it's nice that you did get the invite after all)
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