FOMO or the ‘fear of missing out’ is REAL and there isn’t a better way of saying it.
No one feels good when they are left out either by friends of colleagues at work. But, let’s face it: it happens and will continue to whether you like it or not. You might be those fortunate ones at work to never have experienced it, but that doesn’t warrant that it may not happen to you, ever. Being left out is quite painful and experiencing rejection becomes a lousy affair. In fact, it can result in feeling a wide spectrum of emotions. But, are all those fears legit?
An article in The American Psychological Association, Nathan DeWall, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky is quoted saying: “Being on the receiving end of a social snub causes a cascade of emotional and cognitive consequences, researchers have found. Social rejection increases anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy and sadness. It reduces performance on difficult intellectual tasks, and can also contribute to aggression and poor impulse control.” No wonder, the pain. But, even if you are kept out of meetings, should you really hold a grudge? Probably not. You must look at your situation objectively and rationally.
Battle your ego
Your ego will be bruised the moment you get to know that you are not invited to a meeting. But, ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly:
- Do you really need to be there?
- Is it a core member meeting?
- Is the focus of the meeting related to your team or work you do?
- Is there a team representative already there in the list of invitees?
Chances are that you will be able to talk yourself out of your anxious state. If you are still not satisfied, speak to a colleague who is on the list to check about the agenda. Eventually you will know if your being there makes sense or not.
Build your case
If you find out that there isn’t enough representation from your team or you should be involved in the discussion because it is critical for the project then you should start building your case. Be prepared to answer the question in a non-self-aggrandising manner. Don’t say: “I should have been sent an invite too” or “why wasn’t I sent the invite”. Instead gather your thoughts and say, “do you think someone from [insert department] be present” or “It will be great to have from [insert your department]. Your concern should be for the organization and the decisions that are going to be made in the meeting and not you. Your response should highlight expertise, perspective and information that can you or your team member will add to the discussions.
You have got to learn to keep emotions at bay. The list of attendees may have people who you get along or not with, but that shouldn’t be the reason why you should check why you aren’t being invited. Don’t say ‘[insert name] is invited, but not me!’ It should barely be of any consequence. Focus on the agenda and not people. Steer the conversation to why it makes sense for you to be present in the meeting. This shows your level of maturity and gain respect from colleagues and managers.
Everyone works their way up the corporate ladder by making their presence felt at work. And, this can be done by doing exceptional work and being engaged with colleagues. You were probably not invited because you are still under the shadow of your boss or you lack knowledge or you don’t take initiatives. What you must do is muster courage and stop working in a silo, especially if you are a newbie. Start speaking to people at work; offer help and be heard. Do you think you can help a colleague with your wizard PowerPoint or Adobe Illustration skills? Then just say it! Figure out what you can do best and be in the limelight.
Talk to your supervisor
If you feel you are being kept out of meeting without any reasonable explanation then speak to your boss. There are times when they may have deliberately kept you out of these meetings because you are already over-burdened with other tasks and projects. Or there was someone already talking about a marketing campaign or sales analysis and they didn’t want to double the headcount by sending you too. Now, before you go to your boss, make sure you are up-to-date with your work and are not asking for a pile of work you won’t be able to cope with.
If you see, you have to learn and unlearn a few things. You can’t expect to be invited to every meeting just because you think so. You have to carefully evaluate not just your emotions, but the circumstances as well. So, next time you find out you weren’t invited, don’t become a crybaby and waste time being irrational. Such situations demand you being realistic. Shouldn’t you become one?