Help! What should I do with my Cliquey colleagues?

Dear OOO,

I’ve been doing my job for about three years and I really like it. The work is always interesting and stimulating, my manager pushes me to grow and always supports me, and my work-life balance is the envy of my friends. There’s only one problem: the shot is so intense that I feel like I’m back in high school! The ‘cool kids’ are all nice enough to work with them, but at meetings they’re always visibly laughing at a joke from the inside out, and now that we’re all vaccinated, they’re constantly posting photos on Instagram where they all hang out. . and none of us were invited. How can I overcome my jealousy or help change our office culture so that it doesn’t look so much like a popularity contest?


A former boss used to say that people should never be friends with coworkers. It’s a sensible philosophy – most people need clearer lines between work and life, not more blurry, and separating the two avoids toxic growing issues like the ones you encounter. But he also fails to recognize how humans actually work. About 100% of the people I can reasonably call friends were either classmates or colleagues (or the partners or close friends of my classmates or colleagues); I don’t even know how I would meet new friends. A highly scientific poll of people who were active on my Gchat friend list when I sat down to write this column indicated that most people feel the same way. Even my reluctant boss gave in to his principled position; our whole team got close and the rest to this day.

If we accept the inevitability of friendships in the workplace, we’re probably stuck with cliques as well. It is in our nature to form subgroups, and subgroups are by definition exclusive. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: it helps to have people who are particularly loyal to you, even if it means that there are others who are particularly loyal to others than you.

But while rationally, we know everyone deserves a great circle of friends, it can still hurt to see others. While I have no doubts about the ability of “cool kids” to create bigger cultural issues – I was a seventh grade girl – I do think bruised egos can sometimes cause people to see “cliques” at times. instead of a normal old one. ‘groups of friends. I had a drink with some colleagues but not with others, and I was certainly caught laughing in a meeting because of a secondary DM. It’s mostly healthy, especially when everyone is feel a little disconnected a year and a half after the start of a global pandemic. You don’t say if you have a close work friend, Melissa, but focusing on finding one or two or developing intimate jokes with them can be a good distraction to avoid understandable jealousy.

Suppose, however, that the cool group at your workplace really does create a toxic environment beyond the occasional envy-inducing laughter. There are lots of things they or they can do to change their behavior, but your options for changing it are quite limited. Because they are adults and not seventh grade girls, I’m inclined to think of the clique as ignorant, not actively bad, and they don’t understand the effect they have on everyone. With that in mind, I recommend that you choose a member that you know to be nice and reasonable, and kindly ask them to cool it down with [insert problematic behavior here] because it hurts other people’s feelings. Also: Invite clique members out with you and your friends from work. Even if you don’t all start dating regularly, the occasional top of different groups can go a long way in making things less siled.

If none of that works, you will need to figure out how to deal with your own feelings rather than correcting the cause. Step one: turn off or stop following cool kids on Instagram. They have full rights to post photos of their wild nights, just as you have the right to avoid seeing said photos. Step Two: Send a friend a spicy DM at a business meeting, then watch them try to contain their laughter. You will be too happy to care what the clique does.

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