Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Exclusion at work worries team member

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm being excluded from a project at work and it's been very difficult for me to cope. I'm wondering if I am overreacting.

I work as part of a small team of six artists: four production artists (myself included) and two lead artists. We usually work very closely together. This project has a ton of work for everyone except one person, and that person turned out to be me.

Every day, my team is consumed with this project. I's all they talk about. They have meetings, and I'm left sitting by myself in our rows of desks. They have their own dedicated chat that I am not invited to and they have discussions, make team announcements and have in-jokes, all of which I am not privy to. They're learning, getting experience in our craft and bonding as a team while I am excluded.

Meanwhile the work I've been assigned is not related to my job description.

I asked the supervisor if I could work on the team project, and he said no. I asked my teammates if there was anything they needed help with and was met with silence.

I try to be rational about this and think positively, but every day it gets more difficult as I feel more and more excluded and less valuable to the team.

I feel very upset over this. Have my team leads failed in how they've handled this project? Should they have found something for me to do, or at least allowed me to be privy to the information about the project? Am I being oversensitive? Should I tell my leads how this has made me feel? Or should I just suck it up and stay quiet? What can I do to be more proactive about this situation?

At this point, I'm not sure what's valid or appropriate. I don't want to be seen as emotional or not a team player, but I cannot deny that it has greatly upset me.

It is very difficult to watch my entire team work on something without me.

Your advice?

-- Worrier

Dear Worrier: The way you describe your situation, you are being deliberately excluded from this team project. You appealed to your supervisor, who has also denied you access. Yes, this seems short-sighted on their part, because inspiration comes from many quarters.

Because of the paucity of information and lack of communication regarding why you've been excluded, you should assume that your skill level does not match that of the other team members. Your current assignment (unrelated to your job description) is another clue that you might need to commit to more training. You could ask for an explanation about why you've been left behind, but don't bother telling anyone how this makes you feel.

You might be able to turn this pile of lemons into lemonade if you can muster up the fortitude and determination to leave your emotion about this behind, and simply commit to improving your skills. You should also look for a different job.

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Dear Amy: You get so many questions about the difficult relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law that I often wonder: Do you ever hear from daughters-in-law who were nasty to their mothers-in-law, and now they are mothers-in-law, themselves?

Do daughters-in-law look back and regret their behavior?

-- Struggling MIL, Myself

Dear Struggling: I don't think I have ever seen such an admission from a daughter-in-law in this space, but I'd certainly be interested in exploring this very special (and challenging) dynamic.

I got very lucky with my (two) mothers-in-law from my two marriages. Both women were very different from each other -- and from me -- but they both handled the relationship in a way that inspired my respect.

I also assume the fact that I was afraid of them helped to keep me in line until I got to know them.

I will share readers' words of wisdom from each side of this relationship.

Dear Amy: "Tired of Listening" described a friendship that consisted of his friend complaining, and Tired listening and offering advice and solutions that fell on deaf ears.

Thank you for identifying this friend as a "narcissistic bore." Unfortunately, you failed to warn this friend that a relationship with a true narcissist will never thrive, and will turn increasingly toxic as time passes.

-- Been There

Dear Been There: Several readers have written in to say that they have been on the receiving end of this sort of selfish behavior, and that severing the relationship was ultimately the only way to preserve their own self-esteem.

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(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)


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