Workplace Clique Creates Misery for Others

Lindsey Novak on

Q: I started a new job at a small company with mostly female employees in administrative-type jobs -- filing, secretarial, reception. They have all worked together for quite a while, and they go to lunch together every day. We are all in proximity to each other in the office, but they have yet to invite me or include me in their lunch plans. This hurts me because I know it's intentional. I hesitate to invite myself because that will probably start them gossiping about me being aggressive or desperate.

I don't think I can speak to the boss because if he talks to them about it, it will backfire on me. I'm still fairly new, but the atmosphere is miserable and not improving. I want to like where I work, but I don't know what to do other than start looking for a new job. It's not as if this job is to die for. Help!

A: You are already upset at being rejected by this rude and snobby clique at work, so whatever you do to break in, you have nothing to lose if you fail. Start with brief but friendly conversation to the various women. If a co-worker ignores you, innocently stand there and repeat yourself. Don't act haughty or retaliative; just look at her curiously as to why she hasn't responded to you. Maybe she didn't hear you the first time. She should eventually respond, and if she is rude or sarcastic, just smile and return to your work. Try that approach with each member of the clique. If the women respond similarly, it is time for a different approach.

Ask directly if you have said or done anything that offended them. Of course, you know you haven't, but it gives them an opening to speak. Regardless of their individual or collective responses, keep smiling, and remain curious. They are clearly an odd group, so if they continue being antagonistic, getting through to them is likely not worth your effort. Start a job search with the intention of just wanting out of there. But once you secure a job and give notice, speak privately to the boss about their behavior being intolerable and without cause. He needs to know what these women are up to if he doesn't want them ruining his company for all new hires. He is the only person you should be honest with.

The less you say to the women, the better off you will be. You did not accept this job to be a social worker to this narrow-minded, boorish group. You wanted a job and hoped the employees would behave as adults, regardless of their intellect or maturity levels. Since that is not the situation, it's time to move on to the next job.


When you interview, do not admit what you are experiencing at the company. It's a weird and negative situation, and you don't want to bring these employees' bizarre behavior into your new work experience. Ask work style- and culture-related questions during your interview, and make sure you meet all co-workers you would work with, as well as bosses you would work for. You don't want any surprises this time around.

If you have been at this company under three months, leave it off your resume. If asked about the length of time of your job search, say you've been looking for a company where you'll be pleased with the work and the people. It's OK to be picky; too many people forget to interview the interviewer and live to regret it.

Email career and life coach: Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit and for past columns, see COPYRIGHT 2021 CREATORS.COM




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