How Does Ostracism Affect You Emotionally

Edited by Vanessa Alexandra Avisado, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn and 9 others

Are you enduring the silent bullying, a kind of OSTRACISM in your workplace? You may have been the target of unwarranted criticism, or you've been relieved of your key duties and other responsibilities. Perhaps you feel there's been a negative campaign against you. Next thing you know, you are deprived of your right to employee benefits and privileges extended to other workers. You may feel that your purpose in the workplace is being reduced, and worry that you'll be fired.

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Contents
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What is Ostracism?

  • Ostracism when you are banished, cast out, excluded or dismissed by a group you once belonged to.
  • It includes being ignored or barred by other employees in the workplace. The motive can be personal or professional, and it can be premeditated. Some may ostracize a fellow employee because the person is perceived to be a threat to his or her own promotion or position. Sometimes it's revenge.
  • Ostracism is a dangerous style of workplace bullying that can lead to long-term emotional injury.
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How does being ostracized affect you emotionally? How should you cope? Here are ways to deal with ostracism in the workplace.

Other labels for Ostracism

  • The kiss of social death (Source: Kipling D. Williams, PhD)
  • The Cold Shoulder
  • Excommunication
  • The Silent Treatment
  • Silent Bullying
  • Office Harassment

What is the Cause of Ostracism?

It's one of the most widely used forms of social retribution, and although ostracism may seem more humane than physical punishment, but there is a profound psychological effect that needs to be taken very seriously.

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How is Ostracism Experienced?

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Consisting mainly of verbal insults or threatening physical gestures, ostracism is mostly invisible or disguised.

  • Ostracism is very destructive and very difficult to prove. It's really in-your-face, but those around you, often won't admit that it is happening.
  • You have little or no evidence to document unfairness or harassment at work.
  • Your complaints about their treatment often lead to your being typecast as a "problem", or worse, as "paranoid" or "hysterical".
  • You are intentionally ignored by co-workers or supervisors.
  • You are left out of chats or gatherings and socializing.
  • You are deprived of information and updates essential for performing your work duties effectively.
  • You are left off email distribution lists.
  • You are not notified of meeting, and if you are notified and go to the meeting, you are ignored by co-workers.
  • You are physically relocated from an active or comfortable work location to an area that feels hostile, indifferent, less comfortable or set apart from other workers.
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What are the Effects of Ostracism on You?

Studies show the effects of ostracism are more severe now because individuals have less of a sense of community than in the past. It adversely affects perceptions, your mental state, attitude and your behavior.

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  • Your morale plummets, as you perceive your low value to the organization.
  • Your productivity drops.
  • You become paranoid, wondering who's against you.
  • You second-guess yourself, wondering if it's just your imagination.
  • Sadness, loneliness, shame and anger follow.
  • You disengage as a member of the functioning team and become hostile and distrustful of your supervisor and co-workers.
  • You'll stop caring about your appearance; less exercise, lack of attention to grooming and nutrition. You might become sleepless or take pharmaceuticals.
  • Being rejected for a long period of time can lead to reduced immune response and increased risk of early death through a wide variety of diseases caused by stress.
  • If the situation continues, the isolation, decreased functioning and the loss of value situation can lead to dismissal, which may have been the intention in the first place.
  • All these things can easily lead to depression, aggression, violence or suicide.

How to Deal with Ostracism in the Workplace

As difficult as it might be, try to remain calm. There are things you can do as soon as you feel you are being ostracized at work, to protect yourself psychologically, and in the work place, starting by trying to figure out what's causing the problem in the first place.

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Logically Assess the Situation

Why are you not part of any social group at work? Why are people avoiding you?

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  1. 1
    Are you the youngest in the office?
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  2. 2
    You're new.
    The rest of the employees are have worked there for a long time?
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  3. 3
    You're single.
    The rest are married, and you aren't invited to their social outings.
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  4. 4
    You're married.
    The rest are single, and you aren't invited to their social outings.
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  5. 5
    Be honest with yourself.
    Maybe it's your behavior establishing you as an outsider or different. Are you trying to hard? Not trying hard enough? Are you rude to others? A know-it-all?
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What You Can Do If It's You

To deal with this situation properly, you really need to know where it's coming from. Once you've determined the problem is you, try these fixes.

  1. 1
    You're shy.
    Try to engage more with your co-workers, even if it's difficult for you. Sometimes, shyness in interpreted �" wrongly �" as arrogance.
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  2. 2
    Are you arrogant?
    Perhaps you've taken this job and you feel it's beneath your skills, projecting that into the workplace will not do you any favors, and the rest of the staff will avoid you.
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  3. 3
    Avoid telling your co-workers how to do their job.
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  4. 4
    Avoid flirting in the office, telling off-coloured jokes, discussing inappropriate things - basically, make sure you aren't doing things to ostracize yourself.
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What To Do If It's Them

This is a terrible position to be in. It's emotionally devastating. Still, you need to keep your head while you try a few things, but at the same time, protect yourself.

  1. 1
    Make an ally.
    Find one person in the office to connect with. One friend will do you a world of good, and offer emotional support.
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  2. 2
    Avoid confrontation in the office.
    There are no good results that will come from this action.
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  3. 3
    Hold your breath.
    If it's a one-time event over one situation, just let it drop and see if it blows over.
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  4. 4
    Don't let 'em see you sweat.
    Like bullies in grade school, the more you let it show you're upset, the more they'll see you as a target. This doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about it with a friend outside the office, because you should.
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  5. 5
    Send an email to your superior.
    Express your concerns in a very calm manner. The email will have a time date and stamp, where if you talk to your superior in person, there will be no record of it. You need to do this if later one, this situation ends in a lawsuit. You need to show you reached out to a superior regarding this, at least once �" twice is better.
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Document Everything!

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There may come a day when you need evidence of everything happening to you. An unlawful dismissal, emotional abuse and situations causing psychological damage may end up in a lawsuit, and you need to compile evidence from day one. If you don't do this, and end up being fired for what you perceive unfair circumstances, any lawsuit will make it seem it's retaliation for being let go.

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  1. 1
    Check the manual.
    Research and record the company's employee manual to learn its policies regarding workplace harassment.
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  2. 2
    Write it down.
    Whenever incidents occur, write them down.
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  3. 3
    Note the time, location, people involved and specific form of ostracism.
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  4. 4
    Include details.
    Record as many details as possible and keep all documentation of incidents together in safe place.
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  5. 5
    Protect yourself.
    If there's even a chance your computer can be used by someone else, or if you are on a shared network, you need to do the following:  
    1. Keep a physical file where you've recorded incidences �" both a hard copy, and also email the incident reports to yourself �" at an email address you don't use at work �" like your personal Gmail account.
    2. Forward every email you receive where you feel you've been singled out, or picked on, to yourself.
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  6. 6
    If you keep track of these emails at work, create a file folder in your email and title it something innocuous like �" Paid Bills, Past Projects, etc.
    Store all your evidence in this file, but it would still be prudent to forward them all to a different email address.
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Remain Professional

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Whether or not the reasons for the ostracism are justified, don't them more ammunition.

  1. 1
    Turn the other cheek.
    Try your best to ignore the glimpses, chuckles and deliberate disregard co-workers have for you. That is obviously challenging, but imperative for establishing a solid, legal ground.
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  2. 2
    Carry On.
    Continue to perform all required work duties to the best of your abilities.
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  3. 3
    Be present at meetings.
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  4. 4
    Engage.
    Relate with co-workers and customers, and transact business in a professional manner at all times.
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Form New Acquaintances

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A stressful work environment has significant impact on an employee's work production and mental health. This is the time you need friends in your life, and at least one ally at work.

  1. 1
    Work ally.
    It's important to make at least one genuine friend in the workplace, while trying to avoid their personal issues.
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  2. 2
    Friends outside the workplace.
    If it's so bad you cannot find one friend in the workplace, strengthen your friendships outside the workplace.
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  3. 3
    TMI.
    Make sure you have someone you can talk to about what's going on at work, but don't laden them with your situation. Don't let yourself become obsessed with it. You'll stop being fun to be around.
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  4. 4
    Take the initiative.
    Come up with suggestions to unwind and become social with your acquaintances at work.
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  5. 5
    Look for a new job.
    You should always aspire to work somewhere that inspires, and does not may you feel terrible about yourself and others. While all this is going on, look for another job, with a better fit.
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Consult a Mentor

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Inside or outside the workplace, you also need someone who can offer you an unbiased, different perspective regarding your situation. This may give you some clarity.

  1. 1
    Counselor or Therapist.
    A counselor can offer sensible advice and support. This is a place you can reveal everything that's going on, and your deepest fears regarding this difficult situation.
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  2. 2
    A mentor.
    Perhaps you know a wise person in the same kind of work as you who will help. This person, because of their insight and experience, can offer an objective viewpoint.
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  3. 3
    A teacher.
    An old high school or college teacher may be a good sounding board: a place where you can safely voice your frustrations with the situation.
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Speak with Management Privately

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It's important you contact management or HS in your company to let them know what's going on as soon as you are sure it's happening. If you meet face to face, try to make sure you make the appointment by email, or at the very least, thank them via email, making sure to mention the reason for your meeting, and save and/or forward the email.

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  1. 1
    Uninvolved management.
    Alert a member of management who isn't participating in the ostracism. He may realize the need to schedule professional development workshops or sensitivity training for the entire staff.
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  2. 2
    Hand the manager a copy of the incidents you've recorded, so he understands the extent and seriousness of the issue.
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  3. 3
    Human Resources.
    Put a complaint in with HR. This is what they're there for.
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  4. 4
    Meet with a company mediator.
    Discuss the issues and show them a copy of the evidence you've collected.
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When All Else Fails, Take Steps To Begin Legal Action

Not all companies provide arbitrators, but generally, someone from the human resources department will be appointed to handle workplace harassment issues. Their job is to try settle work-related issues fairly. If you've attempted this, and no resolution was forth coming, you may have to take more drastic actions, especially if you are fired from your position.

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  1. 1
    Work first.
    Remember, if you haven't put in an official complaint or two, it will be very difficult for a lawyer to represent you. The company's lawyers will argue that you didn't give them the opportunity to solve the problem within the company.
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  2. 2
    Research lawyers.
    Find a lawyer who specializes in this kind of litigation and hire him.
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  3. 3
    Contingency.
    If you can't afford a lawyer, you might be able to find one who will take your case on contingency. This means, you don't pay unless the lawyer wins the case for you. The lawyer will take a percentage of what the court awards you if you win. On the positive, it makes your lawyer work harder. On the negative, the lawyer usually gets more money for the case.
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  4. 4
    Hand over the evidence.
    Give your lawyer all the evidence you've collected �" time lines, emails, etc.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Just do your job. Don't react aggressively.
  • Be selective. Get into the habit of associating with those on your level of aspiration, and above. That way, it won't matter to you if others have excluded you or not.
  • Be involved in something that will attract others to you. People are attracted to those who are intelligent, self-confident and flexible, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.
  • Let others recognize how important they are, and be sincere about it. Try asking their opinion in certain situations.
  • Never let them see you sweat. People seem to enjoy knowing their mean ways are getting to you. It's not always an advantage to be predictable.
  • Detach emotionally from your work. Meet your emotional needs outside the workplace..
  • Look for a new job.
  • Don't ever let someone else convince you that you are not valuable. They only have as much power over you �" emotionally - as you give them.
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They sound like horrible people. Smile and consider it a blessing that you've been excluded. Continue to do your business and realize your self-worth.

Questions and Answers

Is ostracism a form of bullying and what are workplaces legally required to do if this is reported?

I made a comment to a coworker I supervise, who misinterpreted it. I suggested she take a break because she looked upset. She complained about me to everyone and now many people are not talking to me and turning the other way when I pass by. When this happened, she reported me to HR and was told not to mention this situation to anyone. I contacted HR and my immediate supervisor a few months later when it was becoming very uncomfortable for me. Things got better before they had a chance to talk to her. I dread returning to work after vacation and want to transfer.

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You can request a transfer. It seems that even though you had no intention of offending her, it got way out of hand. The good news is that people have short memories. By the time you get back from vacation, your co-workers will most likely have forgotten the drama, especially since you have not been at work as a daily reminder. If there is still an atmosphere that has you uncomfortable, ask HR to speak with the person you offended with HR present. It might be best to clear the air once and for all and agree to bury the drama.

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How can I deal with being excluded in my neighborhood by some neighbors?

We are excluded by a few neighbors after an argument with the neighborhood gardener. The gardener is not a trustworthy person but they took the gardener's side. They mistreated our dogs. I yelled at them. They started staring at our house and I complained to the landlord. I'm not sure now who is right or wrong. I am affected by others views. They are hostile toward us, and we are emotional and maybe a socially phobic family and feel so sad. Please help us. Even now, although I'm away from the situation, my stomach hurts.

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A gardener can be as essential as the mail carrier in some communities. Your neighbors have most likely known the gardener longer than you so they are reacting defensively. You also have to consider that they did not witness what happened to your dogs and unfortunately dogs are one of the most popular causes of neighborhood conflicts. If you're aware of which neighbors are upset by the strife, write them a note and attach it to a tray of baked goods. Basically send a peace/truce offering. No one wants to live in a tense environment all the time. If you make the first move to apologize, hopefully things will calm down.

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I am having a problem with one of my work colleagues, I'm a qualified nurse working at Dr. Surgery, The Care Assistant at the surgery is ostracizing me & undermining me?

I started working at Dr. Surgery a year & a half ago, I love my job & caring for people. I get on well with all of the administration staff - but the 2 members of staff I am supposed to work with most closely - another qualified nurse and a care assistant are making it nearly impossible to work. The start of my problems was when I did not want to swap shifts with the Care Assistant. Two weeks before she needed time off, she asked the other nurse to do so, but she had child care issues. My boyfriend had booked a surprise that he had paid a deposit on so I was unwilling to change my shift. She just expected me to say yes and give up my plans, as I had on previous occasions, lose money & maybe have a falling out with my boyfriend so she could have her social life. I got upset & she accused me of being verbally aggressive to her. I wasn't I stood 8 feet away from her & tried to explain the situation, but she wasn't interested. All she said was "what do you expect me to do, give up my annual leave?" It turns out it wasn't annual leave but time owing - which it was her responsibility to ensure was covered. She is very friendly with the other nurse & she stuck up for her.

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Since then (2 months ago now) she has been ignoring me unless it's to ask something about work. The other nurse will only talk to me if the care assistant is not in the room. Actually, thinking back, they haven't included me in meetings that as a member of the nursing staff, should have been included in. They never discuss any shifts that they need covering with me unless they want me to cover them - everything else is sorted out between them. I have spoken to the manager about this but she can't force the Care Assistant to be courteous or polite (I understand this).

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The other problem I have with this member of staff is when booking appointments for patients, she ensures that I have the majority of patients or all of them even if it means that I am over booked. She has also accused me of using the wrong dressing on a patient, even, according to her, though I'm her senior. I've worked on a post-op ward for 4 years & know what dressings should be used on what wounds. I worked as a Care Assistant myself for 3 years & have the greatest respect for them, when they work hard, they are essential to the process, ensuring patients are looked after correctly, but I am senior to her & although she has a lot of experience, she should show me some respect.

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I am not a rude or mean person but it seems when I try to stick up for myself I am made out to be the bad person. I have spoken to the nurse that worked at the surgery before I started working there & she said that this member of staff treated her exactly the same way, so unfortunately I can't see her changing her ways & I don't know how long I can cope with this situation as I know it will effect my health eventually. Please help if you can!

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You need to address being overbooked. This is something the company can directly deal with, as it's affecting your ability to do your job properly. Overwhelming your bookings is not only a hostile act, but it is unfair to the patients who deserve complete care. Unfortunately, this care assistant comes off as childish and petty, and people like that are completely all about "their way or the highway".

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You also should speak with whoever schedules the meetings that you are missing. Ask the other co-worker to let you know when there are meetings so that you can be up to speed. Also talk to the co-worker who only talks to you when the other woman is not there. This is a sign she is possibly being bullied, and may need someone to talk to. Perhaps you could make an ally of her.

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Over all the only thing you really can do is go to work, keep doing your job expertly as you have been, and remind yourself that the care assistant's bitterness must be exhausting!

How do I file or fight back in a union workplace?

I am being treated inappropriately at work. They have isolated me to where they're treating me like a dog. I have tried: I called in sick the next day so I could file a grievance. I think it was caused by: I asked, and they won't give me a solid answer. Through the grapevine, I learned the person said, "He doesn't like me and I hate him." I believe and know, this is called prejudice and I am outlawed by racism because its hard to prove it unless you have witnesses.

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You can still file an action with the Labor Board in your jurisdiction. The burden of proof in these situations is not on you but the employer. Often a company will have to overhaul their tolerance policies with just a hint to the Labor Board that there is racism in that work place.

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You can't be fired for reporting to the Labor Board so this will be your best course of action.

Disagreeing with the burden of proof. It's always on the person who lays charges. It would be nearly impossible for the other person to prove they weren't racist, so it's up to you to prove they are. Collect witnesses and save any inter-office correspondence that proves this.

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I have a bullying situation at work. There's a big conflict of interests and I'm certainly been ostracized.

My health is being affected and I am constantly anxious. I'm feeling sick by the thought of going into work every morning. I have tried: Tried to speak to the team and boss, but my feelings were not heard. The conflict of interest - the girl who started to create issues with lives with my boss �" they own a house together. My senior leader is also my boss's best friend. I am trying to set up a meeting with union rep and boss this week. I think it was caused by: Not sure. My boss told me that I irritate her friend because I'm so positive and bubbly. She then said that there are things I'm not doing at work that is creating tension. This has since developed into a competence issue and I am in an advice and guidance program. It feels like they want to get rid of me. My other colleague is being monitored by the girl who thinks I'm too positive. Now she has issues with me. All of her statements are about personal feelings.

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The Union Rep will be your best course of action. You can't report your issues to anyone of seniority at work because they are all intertwined emotionally out of work. The fact that one of the girls involved has turned another co-worker against you is like being in high school all over again. This is not a professional environment and things absolutely need to change. The Union Representative will suggest the best course of action for moving forward.

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Less talkative facing ostracism at work?

I'm an introvert and a person of few words. I treat my colleagues well. Greet them even when they don't respond. All this has made me realize I may be forcing myself on them, and they don't like to talk to me so they have to pretend to be good to me when I make an attempt of any sort of conversation with them. Recently I stopped greeting them to see if they great me. It didn't happen. I refuse to gossip about anyone they don't like. It irritates them if I talk to anybody whom they don't like. So now they have all ostracized me. How do I deal with all this and become friendly to everyone?

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Suggest to your management that you all have a Team Building Exercise event. There should be no reason you all can't be civil to one another. Deciding whom you should like and whom you should speak with is not part of their job performance. Order a lunch, like pizza, for everyone one day or bring in pastries in the morning. You may have to be the first one to show a grand gesture of creating a cohesive work environment, before anyone else is willing to make a change.

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I was just wondering, after reading this, if this is happening to me

I've been at this place for 2 years. We had a female come in about 16 months ago who does the same job as me - we hand over at certain times. Last year I was off work sick due to depression and anxiety - handled by a doctor, and I just finished CBT sessions. Last November. I was called in for a chat, and on the office phone, the chairman shouted me at about my work. If I tried to explain �" it was ignored. I've tried to stand up to him. Last Friday I was called into the office and asked why I had made these mistakes, and found some were not even my fault. This was done by the secretary of the company who then asked me to fill this form out and said he was in my best interests and would be having a word with ACAS. Over the weekend, I listed all that had been happening in the work place and the abuse by the chairman. Monday I said I had to finish off a few things and would bring them in the next day. I'm just waiting for a meeting now, and wondering whether I've opened a can of worms - whoops. I have tried: Have had a chat with a Manager when I went to work about how my colleagues behavior toward me. One day she is very controlling and moans about everything. I don't say a lot and ignore her comments. We do the same job and I am used to dealing with customers. She has even taken over the desk we share. The office manager is like a puppy with her. I have been there longer and I have had feedback from people. She's asked everyone what they think of me. I have realized the manager is bullying as well. I can't change things, just move around him, but he thinks he should control me, and she can be as bad. My CBT has helped. I think it was caused by: I feel as though I am being undermined and feel that she is turning everyone against me. Today, we shall see if the secretary he has stuck up for me, as he has in the past.

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I am on a graduate trainee and I am being ostracized for coming through a disability scheme.

Please advise an approach. I'm being asked by senior management to work with middle management, who ignore me on a daily basis. I'm also being snubbed, from support staff and P.A.s, to middle and senior management. It means my trainee skills are being limited, causing further isolation. I have tried: I have tried talking directly to both my trainee mentor who is separate from the organization I work with. I have sat down with HR and have reported feeling isolated to the most senior manager. I have also tried to communicate with support staff, who can relay information from middle management. I think it was caused by: Fragmentation between my trainee mentor and my organization HR. Different priorities from senior and middle management. General resentment of my presence, treated differently due to the way I joined the organization and my novice knowledge of their systems and ways of working.

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How does ostracism affect an employees personality?

I am writing an article for that purpose, I need relevant material for my paper

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I'm being ostracized at work by co-workers. How can I get them to accept me?

I believe it is because I'm the boss's son, but I'm working hard to prove myself. I'm not lazy or anything, but I am at my wits end. I have tried: Chit chatting, getting to know them. I think it was caused by: I'm the boss's son. They think I'm an enemy.

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I am becoming more and more dissatisfied with my employer and my memory is being reviewed by the VA. I feel like I'm on a raft in the middle of the ocean and a large ship asks if there are any holes in my boat - then left me there.

It seems the company never reaches out. Everything is on you - more or less. I manage a small outlet and have not had very much corporate support in five years. It's very discouraging.

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Why do people ignore me at work?

This has happened to me in both jobs I've worked at. I try to be friendly and as helpful as possible (I'm not over friendly), and generally try to be nice to people. It always seems to be guys. I try to be friendly and say hi, but I'm ignored. Try to say morning - ignored. Why is it I repel people. I think it was caused by: Can't think- I'm probably perceived as boring.

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Should I approach the ostracism singly, collectively or not at all?

A boss feels threatened by me (a bully outmaneuvered me) and has recruited supporters to ostracize me. All of them. have been friendly to me at times but are now killing me socially. Should I appeal to them individually, gather them for a group air-clearing or just try to be tough and return the coldness?. I have tried: Appeals to a few singly, a conversation with boss following encounter with bully, which she thought should have been about my alleged non-compliance (which didn't exist), resulting in total dissatisfaction for me.. I think it was caused by: A set-in-its ways organization disenfranchises new people by depriving them of training support. I positioned myself physically to passively avail myself of needed support, hastening my skill development. However entrenched ways have been disturbed by this, and old members see me as both a political and social threat. Neither is the case. I feel desperate and in physical pain as I am quite isolated otherwise and this organization and the activity it provides for me are critical to my well-being. However I cannot apologize for taking steps to make sure I am not disenfranchised, even though noses have got out of joint. My greater skill benefits the organization, which is why ultimately the director has not taken steps to stop me. His immediate underling however wants to punish me. What should I do?

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Categories : Relationships

Recent edits by: Vaughn, amanda123, khancat

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