Do you know how it feels like being singled out at work. Imagine how you would feel when the whole group went out for drinks after work without telling you? And also the next situation: After you shared or presented your opinion, people left the conversation. Indeed, you are being “abandoned” by your colleagues at your workplace.

Sometimes things like that happen by chance. In that case, it makes you feel a bit annoyed. But if they happen regularly, it can have consequences. Your productivity, work ethic, joy, sense of purpose and office relationships will be significantly affected. 

Therefore, however painful it might be: Do find out the causes of your colleagues’ action. Perhaps your thoughtless actions are the cause for feeling being singled out at work

And let’s face: whatever it is, causing you being left out, it is always better to know specifically, than to only feel the pain and consequences, but not truly seeing it. These causes are powerful pieces of information.

Some significant reasons why people can feel being singled out at work

  1. Too often managers are ahead of the troops and inadvertently lose connection with their team. Not everyone can switch or come fast enough. The demands are so high that many people walk on tiptoe, not daring to indicate it. This leads them to be left out. And then burn out.
  2. In the workplace, personal feelings are rarely recognized or discussed, which also applies to any developments in the private lives of employees. Individual well-being often seems less important because there is no ‘set manner’ to discuss it in. To do so (probably a good idea) requires more practice and ‘trial and error’-a type of connecting.
  3. To remain motivated, employees must not only be given the space and confidence to develop, but they must also feel heard, understood, and – more importantly – connected. That is not the case everywhere. The (possibly unconsciously) sensed disconnection can cause preference amongst employees.

Not only this, other reasons for feeling being singled out work includes

  1. Many larger organizations work with flex desks. The team members are often not physically close to their team. Their workplace is located daily between unknown people, and not everyone knows how to socialize in this situation. They often feel left to their own devices, experience no team handling and support, and, therefore, go to work uncomfortably. And that might cause all kinds of ‘clumsy’ behavior to compensate for that inner state.
  2. Not everyone is equally confident, sometimes sensitive, and, in that case, therefore find it very difficult to approach others. 
  3. 1.2 million in Holland alone people experience bullying, intimidation, or discrimination at work. Being different in some way can cause this. If you dare to go and look for that reason and make the difference as a ‘mere fact of life’, in spite of however others experience it. You could use that difference to your advantage at some point.
  4. In the case of reorganizations or further developments, it is regularly checked which employee, in the opinion of the placement committee, is most suitable for a position. The main question there is often ‘do they fit’. When someone does not understand that person, or why he or she is behaving in a certain manner – they will not answer ‘yes’ to that ‘fitting-question’. So to ‘understand’ one is key here.

How is it that so many people suffer from feelings of ‘being singled out at work’?

An employer and your other colleagues do not always realize that the above -and many other- incidents can have a significant impact on you as a person. All employees and managers also have to deal with their private lives. Both a manager and an employee can feel completely alone and powerless if there is no one with whom to share their concerns and with whom he can safely speak. In short, it is not surprising that it is difficult for both employees and employers to keep everyone satisfied, to understand each other, and to let each other know their value. Quite a challenge!

What we should avoid in our behavior?

behavior that cause being singled out at work

Here are some of these actions and what you should avoid interacting with your colleagues more positively: If you don’t want to feel being singled out at work

1. Ignore the individual

You host a lunch with colleagues in the group. However, there is a colleague who is not interested in the topic you are discussing. Next time: do not NOT invite her. Let her choose. Here it is so important to respect everyone autonomy 

2. Too much attention to the owner of the story

You have a good story, but your coworker or boss argues with you. It can make you seem like you’re not being appreciated and promise never to share your ideas again.

Everyone knows the need to make a stand to protect their ideas. Therefore, relax, there will be many more opportunities to talk about it. When uncomfortable with it, don’t keep the attention too long. 

3. Interrupting colleagues

You can know for sure what your colleague is about to say and interrupt before she finishes her sentence to save time. But doing so is rude and disrespectful to others and harmful for the dialogical quality of the relationship. Remind yourself that people process information in different ways and that colleague seems to take more time to get to the heart of the matter. Give colleagues time to finish thinking instead of interfering with your ideas. If not, you might even miss that person’s good idea. Or, when you are right indeed, you’ll miss out on a good relation.

4. Not paying respect to the time and attention of colleagues

When you are talking to a colleague, you suddenly receive a phone call, you hurry to accept it and “abandon” the other colleague. He/she will feel that she is not respected. If you continue to act like that with others, you will eventually be the one who was abandoned. Therefore, politely apologize to the other person and then receive the phone or wait until the end of the conversation before answering the phone, the message, the email. 

5. Be palanquin

A new colleague smiles up to you where you started talking, but you leave coldly. Of course, you didn’t mean anything with it, but they will perceive you to be an arrogant colleague. So they’ll ‘leave’ you somehow sooner or later. Therefore, be friendly and sociable with people. Pay attention to words and voice when talking and do not appear to be smarter, more talented than people. Even though you might be all those things. (If you are really that smart, you would not be familiar with this problem ; )

6. Hot-tempered

People often evade impatient and rough-tempered people. If you are, change to be closer to your colleagues. And find out what’s causing your temper. Why is the fire lit-up? What is your passion? What are you so passionate about? Probably there is more to it than your colleague sees. And it is up to you to make that clear in a nice and constructive manner. (If this resonates in you, you probably feel really happy and welcome within the Black Sheep Community. An  account is made for free.)

7. Misread the colleague’s name

Colleagues sometimes have uncommon names. If you do not pronounce it correctly or automatically call another name funnier and more comfortable to remember without permission of the person – that may be perceived as rude. When you meet someone with a name you’ve never heard of, ask again, say it aloud and write it down in case you overlook it. It is always better to ask again out of the desire to call someone by his or her name properly, then to mix say it.

Some console when feeling being singled out at work

If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being singled out at work, you will surely understand how frustrating it can be.

Now all the above are mere facts. And those can be changed. They do not need to be that way.

Especially with the courage to find the causes and look into the reality of the social dynamics, a solution will come. A way to change the situation will show itself.


The Black Sheep Community is filled with people who dared to look at that and made a change (or are making it). And if you have the courage, you are welcome too! Make a free account and join this group of special Forward Thinkers. (Meant to be Thought Leaders indeed)

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