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Do you know how it feels like to be singled out at work? Imagine how you would feel when the whole group went out for drinks after work without telling you. Or if you shared your opinion and people left the conversation. Just like that, your work colleagues could “abandon” you.

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, no matter how painful it might be you should find out the causes of your colleagues’ action. Perhaps it’s your thoughtless actions. Or theirs.

Whatever it is, causing you to feel left out, knowing about it is better than to only feel the pain and consequences.

Some significant reasons why people can feel singled out at work

Discrimination in the workplace.

This happens mainly because of gender, race, and ethnicity. It may not be obvious and directed to you personally, but even the smallest actions of people in your office could be offensive to you. Your colleagues are ‘joking’ by using language that could be harmful to you and your beliefs. Or your boss denying certain training opportunities to you, but not your colleagues.

Always remember:

diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

 -Sundar Pichai

The manager losing connection with the team.

Running a business and leading a team is intense. While being focused on tons of tasks, managers may forget that building a great connection with the people in their team is essential. If this connection is weak, employees will feel unmotivated and left out. Lack of employee involvement will majorly affect the team’s productivity.

Personal feelings not being recognized.

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.

The workplace should be a safe space to discuss about the employee’s mental health and emotions not only because it is important for their individual well-being, but also because it could affect their working process.

Not having enough space.

To remain motivated, employees must not only be given the space and confidence to develop. If this is not available in your workplace, you may feel limited creatively & intellectually and that may lead to weak working performance and poor mental health.

Not being understood.

Employees must feel heard and understood. There must always be room for them to speak out and make suggestions. A team that is unwilling to accept new ideas and opinions is not the right place to be.

Other reasons for feeling singled out while at work include:

  • 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.
  • Not everyone is equally confident, sometimes sensitive, and, in that case, therefore find it very difficult to approach others. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If everyone else is getting a promotion but you, it could also be because of the company’s funds. Sometimes they cannot afford a pay increase, so they try to delay yours as much as possible.
  • You don’t connect with others on a personal level. That could explain why other workers feel more connected to each other while you feel left out.

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.

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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)