Social & Interpersonal Skills

8 Ways To Respond When You Are Deliberately Excluded At Work  

Let’s face it; being deliberately excluded by other people in any capacity hurts. It can cause low morale and decreased performance when you are deliberately excluded at work.

The comforting truth is that you’re not alone, and there are some methods you can use to respond accordingly. Here’s more information about workplace exclusion and the best ways to respond to it when it happens to you.

Are You Being Deliberately Excluded at Work?

The term “exclusion” is quite broad and can take on several meanings. The most prevalent type of workplace exclusion is on a social level. Here are some examples of being excluded at work:

  • Being avoided or ignored by coworkers
  • Not being invited to employee social functions
  • Failing to receive notifications for important meetings
  • Having others withhold vital procedural information from you
  • Other people ignore your intracompany communications
  • Being left alone during breaks and conferences

Those are a few examples of being excluded from work social events. However, you can also experience professional exclusion. For example, your bosses may not consider you for a promotional opportunity, even if you qualify.

They could exclude you from working in a department you desire to work in or fail to give you performance reviews as well. Allowing acts such as mobbing and condescension is yet another way you can be a victim of exclusion in your workplace.

when you are deliberately excluded at work

So, why are you being excluded at work by your manager?

Here are possible reasons for exclusion by a manager:

1.Miscommunication or Misunderstanding: Sometimes, exclusion may stem from simple misunderstandings or lack of clear communication. Here are some examples:

  • Lack of Clarity in Expectations: If you’re not clear about what is expected of you, you may inadvertently fall short of your manager’s expectations, leading to exclusion.
  • Perceived Attitude Problems: Your manager might perceive your behavior or attitude as problematic, even if that’s not your intention.

2. Professional Reasons: Exclusion might also be related to professional aspects of your job:

  • Performance Issues: If your manager believes your performance is lacking, they might exclude you from certain projects or responsibilities.
  • Alignment with Company Goals: Your exclusion might be a result of your perceived misalignment with the company’s mission and values.

3. Personal Bias or Conflict: Unfortunately, personal biases or conflicts can also lead to exclusion:

  • Personal Dislikes or Preferences: Your manager might have personal preferences that lead to your exclusion, even if it’s not justified.
  • Conflict of Interest: A personal conflict between you and your manager might lead to exclusion from certain activities or responsibilities.

4. Jealousy or Perception of Threat: In some cases, a manager might see you as a threat or be jealous of your abilities, relationships, or success within the organization:

  • Feeling Threatened by Your Skills: Your manager might feel threatened by your skills or achievements, especially if they overshadow their own.
  • Jealousy of Your Relationships: If you have strong relationships with other team members or higher-ups, your manager might feel jealous and exclude you as a result.

How Exclusion Affects the Workforce

According to Tech Republic, employees who feel included are 50 percent less likely to quit and 56 percent more likely to give a stellar work performance.

Furthermore, a worker who feels like he or she belongs is 167% more likely to recommend the company to people looking for work. Thus, cultivating a closely-knit workforce can benefit employers and employees alike.

Eight Ways To Respond To Deliberate Exclusion at Work

These are some of the ways you can respond to deliberate exclusion effectively:

1. Determine Whether You Could Be Misunderstanding the Situation

Think about the incidents you believe are workplace exclusion first and determine whether they are genuine cases. That’s not to say that you’re wrong. However, you must avoid assuming the worst right away. Consider whether the incident is something that may be a trigger from another event that happened to you, and evaluate all possible alternative explanations.

For example, you might think someone is excluding you by ignoring you. However, it’s possible the other person was involved in work-related activities and sincerely didn’t notice your presence. On the other hand, you may be correct about the exclusion if it happens to you all the time when trying to interact with the same people or person.

Problems such as missed meeting notifications could easily be a technological failure or user error. The person who sends the messages may have handled the group email or text messaging service improperly. The software could also have failed.

Alternately, the problem could be coming from your end because of a highly sensitive spam block or a hardware or software issue. Check all of those things to ensure that you cover all bases.

You must also consider whether you seem approachable to your colleagues. Think about your mannerisms, facial expressions, and whether you seem guarded.

The time you spend alone in the break room could have something to with your colleagues’ apprehension about approaching you. Oftentimes, people look unapproachable when they don’t smile, so make sure you keep a smile on your face as much as possible.

Again, this commentary does not mean you should take the blame if you feel ostracized or excluded. However, it’s wise to weigh all the possibilities before proceeding with an exclusion claim.

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2. Find Out if Other People Have Experienced Exclusion

Talk to other people and gather information about whether someone else has gone through a similar experience. These other people could be coworkers or former employees. You may want to visit an employee review page to see if other people have complaints about ostracism or exclusion in the workplace.

There might be a way to converse with those workers to get additional details. The information you receive can be pretty helpful in building a case to take to the appropriate department if you don’t see any results.

3. Document Everything That Happens

Documenting everything that happens to you is paramount to the success of your case, should you open one. Ensure that you write down each incident of exclusion and how it affected your work performance, emotional and mental health, finances, and the like.

You’ll also want to get videos and pictures if it’s at all possible to do so. Ensure that you write down the dates and times each incident occurred and consult with anyone who may have witnessed what happened. Good recordkeeping will help you if you need to speak to a special organization or attorney about your experiences.

4. Seek Support From Others

Now is a time when you need to lean on other people who can support you. You can turn to your friends, family members, and coworkers you can trust. Ask these individuals for advice about handling your work situation. Another coworker might have insight into why your peers are excluding you.

There could be many reasons behind their behavior, and some may be malicious. Some people experience exclusion because they have differences the company can’t legally outright discriminate against. Thus, the workers may be acting as an extension of the employer and executing their disdain through workplace mobbing.

You could also be in a job where the clique’s presence is strong, and the leader feels that you slighted him or her somehow. In that case, the workers might be acting as an extension of that person. Alternatively, ostracizing new employees might be something this particular group does to everyone. That doesn’t make it acceptable, but it will help you understand when you are deliberately excluded at work.

5. Confront the Individuals

Disagreements and grudges can be squashed in some cases. Therefore, you may want to try confronting the other person or people when you are deliberately excluded at work. You have several options for doing that.

The first option is to pull the person to the side and express that you feel slighted when you are deliberately excluded at work. If it’s a manager, you can request a meeting.

It might be wise to bring a third party into it, such as someone from the Human Resources department. That way, the third person can witness the discussion and testify if your problem is severe enough to take to an attorney.

Let the offending party know you want to eliminate the bad blood between you and ask how to do that. This conversation can go one of two ways. The person will tell you the truth and let you know how to solve the problem, or the individual will gaslight you and pretend no problem exists.

Sadly, that happens often in toxic workplaces. The offenders swear they do nothing wrong and then make the target seem off or imbalanced. “You’ve misunderstood,” “You’re too sensitive,” or “There’s no problem at all.” Since you can’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist, you’re stuck in the same place you were at when you began the conversation.

6. Use the Chain of Command

Most employers have open-door policies and a chain of command that their workers can go through when they experience problems like workplace bullying, harassment, exclusion, and other negative experiences. The chain of command starts with your immediate supervisor and then advances to their superior, the regional manager, and Human Resources.

It’s best to resolve the situation in-house first with your manager. However, you’ll have no choice but to take it further if the exclusion is causing you emotional or psychological turmoil. You have the right to work peacefully and have your coworkers and managers treat you with respect.

Going through the chain of command is a courtesy you can give your employer to see if they will help. Human Resources may act as a middle person if your problem doesn’t dissipate.

7. Try To Find a Middle Ground

Work with your managers, HR department, and the other parties to see if you can reach a middle ground on these matters. You may desire to transfer to another store or department if the exclusion is part of a greater act of bullying or harassment.

Your leadership may be willing to move you to see if you fare better with another branch of the company. Sometimes, a lateral move or department switch can change things for the better when you are deliberately excluded at work. In other cases, the other branches within the company share the same toxic values and standards.

8. Seek Alternative Employment

It might be time to seek alternative work if you’ve tried everything you can to keep your job, but the exclusion continues. You can cut your losses and resign if it won’t hurt your finances and you haven’t invested a lot of time. Alternatively, you can take your case to an employment lawyer or employee protection agency if you have substantial proof.

Now you know some of the choices for actions when you are deliberately excluded at work. Choose the action that seems the most effective and try to keep your head up along the way. If the problem isn’t resolved, it will point you in the right direction career-wise, at the very least.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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