Q. I work as a traveling teacher spread throughout several districts. My office is in a building where I attend weekly morning meetings. The group that is part of these meetings has frequent lunches that I'm never invited to. Should I even say something or just let it go?
A. You should say something, but don't assume that anyone is purposely not inviting you.
You'll notice a dramatic increase in your enjoyment and peace of mind on the job if you just make one change. Before you make any assumptions about what other people think -- ask them.
Go to the supervisor who sets up these lunches and let him or her know that you would like to join in. Tell them you don't know if these meetings are private or planning meetings for a certain team. Ask about how these lunches are organized.
When people who feel hurt go to coworkers for an explanation, they tend to make accusations rather than inquiries. You may have been tempted to say things such as "Why don't you include me?" or "Why am I being left out?" Notice these are not questions but statements about others being rude.
If you come out shooting verbally in the workplace, most people will simply defend or counterattack. People may not have invited you previously because they didn't think you were interested. After you make accusations of insensitivity, you won't be included because they are now hurt.
Most of us are too quick to assume the worst about other people. We scan our workplaces every day because we are just waiting for someone to offend us.
If we were quicker to be inquisitive and slower to take offense, we'd find out that most people most of the time either have benevolent motives or just didn't think. When we ask the critical question to gather data before we attack, most of the time the attack isn't necessary.
One thing you can do tomorrow to generate more peace in your workplace is to open your mind to the possibility that other people really aren't out to get you. They make their own assumptions about us and then make decisions. Most of the time they had no intention to harm you.
Prepare to be pleasantly surprised that when you approach the supervisor to ask about being included. You'll likely find yourself most welcome at lunch. By expressing what you want without assuming malicious intent, you'll also find you've built bridges rather than walls the rest of your workday.
The last word(s)
Q. I've made a lot of mistakes in my career. Is it too late to turn things around?
A. No, good judgment is only developed through bad judgment. Mistakes are those things we trip over on our way to wisdom.
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)