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My office has a clique, and I'm not part of it

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

Uncovering cliques

You think once you get past high school you’re done with cliques, but, unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Cliques happen in the office more often than you may think.

Workplace bullying

High school was full of cliques — the jocks, the nerds, the bookworms, the punks and the preps, to name a few. The only thing worse than not being in the "cool clique" in high school was not being in any clique at all. And once you graduated, you had hoped to never come across cliques again. We’re all adults, right? Why can’t we just work together and not be so judgmental? In a perfect world, that would be the case; in today’s world, cliques are a part of everyday adult life, whether you like it or not. Let’s break it down.

Types of office cliques

So how common are cliques in the workplace? Apparently, pretty common. A new survey from CareerBuilder finds that 43 percent of workers say their office is populated with cliques. To fit in, people will watch a certain TV show to discuss at work the next day, pretend not to like a certain food, make fun of someone and even take smoke breaks.

Most cliques involve people who work in the same department or who have common interests. You may notice that all of the young sales people go to happy hour together after work, or that the IT employees eat lunch together in the break room. Cliques can oftentimes be intimidating to new team members and, just like high school, can leave employees feeling left out.

Are cliques in the workplace good?

Contrary to what you may believe, cliques aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s always good to feel like you have a place where you belong and to have friends at work. It’s also important, though, for you to make an effort to associate with all different types of people, not just those exactly like yourself. It takes a mature, well-rounded individual to get along with everyone.

Kent Lee, career expert and CEO of Perfect Resumé, thinks joining work cliques is a good idea. "It helps you build strong relationships within a sub-community of your workplace. Doing so can help you gain access and insight for new opportunities," he states.

"The key to joining a clique correctly is doing what I call 'joining up.' Ideally, you want to find and join cliques that are made up of employees who work at a higher level of employment than you. The best cliques to join are those that are made up of leaders or managers of an organization," Kent adds.

"Additionally, when you become a member of a clique, it’s important to not create an atmosphere of ‘exclusivity’ for other peers within your workplace. Just because you have access to a new circle of managers and leaders does not mean you have to treat your other workplace peers poorly," he advises.

What to do if cliques intimidate you

Luckily, the same survey from CareerBuilder finds that only 11 percent of workers are actually intimidated by cliques. Hopefully, at this stage in life, you have the confidence to not let cliques or petty disagreements get the best of you. If they do, however, remind yourself to stay focused on work. If there’s a particular group that’s rude or condescending toward you, speak to your manager or the HR department.

One woman’s story

"I work in a hospital where cliques are pretty common. The doctors associate with the other doctors, the nurses associate with the other nurses and the CNAs associate with the other CNAs. As a nurse, I’ve never been bothered by this and like that I have a group of individuals I can relate to. We’re all friendly and respectful of all the other groups and get along well. I’ve heard of other hospitals where it’s not quite like that, so I consider myself lucky." – Amanda

Tell us

Have you ever experienced a workplace clique? Share in the comments below!

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