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 Im never invited to. Should I even say something or just let it go?
A. You should say something, but dont assume that anyone is purposely not inviting you. Typically, when a persons feelings get hurt in the workplace, it is based on assumptions about the motives of others.
Many of us tend to make up what we think that co-workers think, and then we decide that we are hurt about what we have made up.
Youll 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 dont 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 dont 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 didnt think you were interested. After you make accusations of insensitivity, you wont be included because they are now hurt. Most of us are too quick to assume the worst about other people.
If we were quicker to be inquisitive and slower to take offense, wed find out that most people most of the time either have benevolent motives or just didnt think.
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 arent 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. Youll likely find yourself most welcome at lunch.
By expressing what you want without assuming malicious intent, youll also find youve built bridges rather than walls the rest of your workday.
Q. Ive 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.