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Fear of Missing Out... Do you have it in the office?

I think I am missing out at work!

By Crystal Johnston - February 16, 2018

We have all been there, overhearing a coworker talk about a girls night out, or not knowing that there was an office happy hour that you weren’t invited to, but does that actually affect your working environment? It is harder now than ever to disassociate work from personal life, and it makes it even harder when FOMO kicks in at the office. How do we overcome this Fear of Missing Out when it come to our colleagues?
 
1. I am just not getting invited
                It is true, you won’t get invited to every gathering, but when it seems to be a regular occurrence, have you looked into as why? “Everybody has a need for social approval. It’s the basis of our human functioning.” This was stated by Marie Mitchell, co-author of the research and professor of Managements at UGA. When this social approval becomes a basis of acceptance in the work place, employees can start to feel disconnected and unappreciated within their working environment. This effect of being excluded can cause a detrimental effect on employees and their thoughts of workplace acceptance.
                Have you ever considered why you are not invited? Is it intentional that you are not included in employee gatherings or is it your perception that you are not being invited out with the guys for a beer? Maybe you have placed an invisible wall up that makes it difficult to be invited to external gatherings? These questions need to be asked in order to really dive into why exclusions may be affecting you in the work place.
2. I want to go, but I say no because I am so busy
                Have you caught yourself saying “No” before you were even invited? Face it, we live very busy lives and a little spontaneity can be overwhelming. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that people spend around 30 minutes a day socializing and communicating, that’s not a lot of time. Since it is only 30 minutes, that time becomes quite valuable. So, that happy hour after work may be more time than you want to dedicate because you treasure your “disconnection time”.
3. I don’t think I am accepted at work.
                Since humans by nature work off of acceptance, it is hard to be “OK” with the fact that we are not invited to every gathering or outing, but how do we cope? It is completely ok to feel negative about not being included, what is detrimental is holding onto those emotions as fact, verses a short time emotional feeling. Create an element of awareness that these feeling are occurring; these feelings do not have to dictate your future interaction with your coworkers. Just because the invite didn’t come through does not mean that you are not accepted, it just means that the invite didn’t come through. Don’t hold onto those negative emotions.
4. I know that they are intentionally leaving me out!
                Do you really believe that your coworkers are intentionally leaving you out of gatherings? Have you tried asking them, or even inviting yourself? We, as people, are GREAT at assuming situations that are occurring instead of finding true reasoning behind situations. Investigate further as to why you are being excluded. Biggest thing you can do is refrain from obsession over believing it is an intentional act. Easier said than done, but rise above these actions as they will cause a resentment in the workplace.
5. They are just trying to bully me and push me out.
                If this is the case, then why are you still there? Work isn’t always the most prime location to make friends, because you are there to work. If your work is now being interfered by a colleague who is intentionally bullying you, get out. Sometimes it is as simple of moving to a different part of the office, or speaking to a trusted authority of the organization. If you feel that you are intentionally being left out because of a bully, you need to speak up.
6. I just want to be a part of the group!
                You are the only one who will change your situation, so why not take action. Start making your own plans and inviting others to them, don’t wait for the invitation to come your way. Avoid being the victim and become a victor. Initiate the outings and become the host. As colleagues see you are wanting to participate more, they will be more inclined to invite you on future events!
7. I want to be a part of the popular group, they just don’t seem to like me
                The “popular” don’t see themselves as in the “in group”. They too feel disassociated and left out from time to time. Stop comparing yourself to them and take the lead. People drive towards confidence. Give yourself a reason to be in the “in crowd,” if one even exists that is.
 
Biggest thing, don’t let the thought of being left out get you down, you are ultimately the one who can change this feeling. Not everyone is going to be invited, this isn’t on you, this is only a situation. Let yourself take initiative and go above being the invited and become the person doing the inviting. Keep in mind, these are emotions and they will pass as long as you allow to look at them at face value.
 
 
Resources: Weeks, M. UGA Study Shows What Happens When Employees Feel Excluded at Work. 9/22/14 https://news.uga.edu/employee-exclusion-study/
Bureau of Labor and Statistics; Average hours per day spent in selected leisure and sports activities by age https://www.bls.gov/charts/american-time-use/activity-leisure.htm
Segal, Z. Three Ways Acceptance Helps You Work with Difficult Emotions 5/18/2016 https://www.mindful.org/three-ways-acceptance-helps-work-difficult-emotions/