Lonely–Left Out!

Question:

I am in a sales support role for a bank, and I do all the work to ensure deals go through. I support 4 individuals and they get to have all the fun going golfing with bankers and customers, ball games etc. I am never invited, and frankly I feel very left out. I don’t think it is fair. I also sit in a cube where the walls are so tall I cannot even see over when I stand up. I am very lonely. I have gained approximately 30 pounds in the last year because this job has started to get me depressed. I need some advice.

Signed,

Not Included


Answer:

Dear Not Included:

Not to be included is to be lonely. You have three choices: 1. To be happy not to be included by the sales group you support. 2. To create ways to be included or 3. To find outside interests in which you are included. Think with me about each of these choices in reverse order: Finding interests outside of work in which you are included. I don’t know your personal situation, whether you live with family, have friends, or live alone. But have you considered taking a photography class at the library, joining a book review club, singing in a choir, being a tutor after school or helping those working on their GED, joining a workout or yoga class, starting a game night with neighbors, taking a night class that might improve your employability? In short, get included. Don’t isolate yourself outside of work. Create ways to be included by those in your workplace. Perhaps the sales force you support does not think of you as a peer and see the need for you to join the “fun” in golf or ballgame outings. You can help them think of you as a peer by using such language as our sales team, we, our sales projects, our customers. Talk shop. Confront them individually by asking how you might help them sell more and might make their jobs easier.

It may be that you will never be seen as a sales peer but you might be included if they knew you wanted to be and if you put on your cheerleader attitude. Have you candidly shared with any of them that you would like to be seen as a part of the team and that you feel isolated in your high-walled cubicle? Attitude and location, location, location have a lot to do with selling and selling you. Where might you be located to feel more a part of your work group? Are there ways to reconfigure your workgroup so that you all have more attractive and pleasant surroundings; art, and greenery, places to work alone, places to socialize, places to workout, places to collaborate? Heading up a campaign to enhance your surroundings can spring from your feelings of being isolated and not included. And that campaign begins with conversation, not complaints, but small talk about how we might make this place more efficient, effective, enjoyable and perhaps exciting.

Happy to not be included. Is that possible? Possibly it is. You need not be a monk to appreciate working alone. That is possible in that you can be all ears for each of your sales force; listening and living through them. Giving yourself away as a supporter is and can be your all-consuming job. And when you have moments that permit relaxation, you can take breaks and strike up conversations with others on breaks.

You can have a personal goal of self-improvement; making yourself the most informed possible about different jobs and aspects in your bank, possibly requesting that your job be rotated so that you might become more valuable to the bank and more interested in the world of banking. Dress like you do when applying for a job. Carry your self as a professional. You don’t say if you like your job. Liking can have a lot to do with being more knowledgeable about your business and increasing your say in what goes on there. If you don’t like your work, then now is the time to explore other kinds of work. These choices are overlapping. None is exclusive. But each and all require that you are unhappy enough with the way things are now that you will risk making some changes. Does this make sense? If so, will you get back to me on what you try? Think of me as a personal coach from afar who will monitor and encourage you to the degree that you report what you do. Better still find someone within your bank who will serve as a career coach. Working is hard enough without feeling lonely.

It is natural and necessary to focus on your self. Independent-mindedness is the good side of ego. You, however, are most fulfilled when you are and feel that you are part of a group. That is most likely to happen when you are interdependent-minded; when you think and act with an attitude I call WEGO.

William Gorden