makes you unique can
also make you a victim. Standing out from the crowd can hold benefits
when it comes to bagging the star role, getting that great contract which
requires special expertise or being memorable. But the downside to being
exceptional is the tall poppy syndrome. It can also mean you may be seen
as a threat by ‘the group leader’ and become isolated as a
We have always known that being left out of things on purpose can cause
hurt but now science is beginning to prove it. In fact the notion of feeling
deliberately excluded causes the same sensation in a pain centre of the
brain as an actual physical injury. This is probably why we perceive deliberate
isolation or being rejected as a ‘punishing blow’. Which is
why being deliberately excluded can be used as a powerful bullying technique.
what do you do if you suspect you are on the receiving end of it?
Bullies know exclusion is a control technique. Knowledge is power and
we need to be constantly informed to advance our social and work careers.
So keeping you ‘out’ of the group keeps them in—and
ahead of the game. It also serves to distance you from your allies. Ostracising
causes introspection and fear because we perceive exclusion from others
in our peer group as being as harmful for our survival as something that
can physically hurt us. Plus it is intentionally degrading. Maybe we are
not cool enough or smart enough for the A group invitation. God forbid—even
an embarrassment. Deliberate exclusion is a smart but cruel manipulative
technique, so don’t let it work against you by falling for it.
Other people who are still on the ‘in’ are often embarrassed
about talking about exclusion so they won’t do so willingly. Find
other ways of getting information on events and meetings and work out
a strategy to be able to attend them independently.
If you start probing other work colleagues you may be labelled as paranoid
or oversensitive, particularly by the bully. ‘Why wasn’t I
invited to that meeting?’ you ask someone on the inner circle—‘What
meeting? It was just a casual chat about future projects’. But however
you can, get the facts about what is going on as soon as possible before
you’re so far out of the know the door closes behind you. And remember,
bullies are imaginative and have been known to ‘make up events’
to cause deliberate confusion and embarrassment. Their modus operandi
is to paint you in an unfavourable light.
Careful Who You Confide In
Exclusion is an insidious and dangerous. Don’t help the bully by
telling colleagues you think you are being dropped. Voicing your fears
will probably have the opposite effect to what you want. Out of self-preservation
in a competitive world they will probably start avoiding you too. Its
like a domino effect. Think Kate Moss losing all her lucrative contracts
one after another. The higher you are up the chain, the more you have
Give them Excuses
Don’t play into the bully’s hands by not turning up to meetings
or social situations that you are invited to. It will give ample reason
to exclude you from those important events that might hold the key to
your future career.
Group dynamics are changing constantly but your personal goals remain
constant. Keep focused on your objectives and strive to achieve them.
The way to beat a bully is to maintain that unique quality that makes
you inimitable. And bullies hate that.
as published in Class Magazine Issue 2 Easter 2006