There are any number of ways you might be different from your workmates, the odd one out at work. It could be a cultural, racial or sexual orientation issue or maybe you’re just from a different side of town. The other side of the tracks maybe.
Thriving in this situation is going to be tough and will take every ounce of your patience and determination. Knowing that any tension you feel is likely to be short-lived should give you the encouragement you need to contribute.
Whatever makes you stand out from the crowd will attract signs of intolerance, especially from anyone whose own feelings of self-esteem are low. Picking on you makes them feel less inadequate.
Never react emotionally. Stay calm and rational. If someone has been deliberately insensitive, it’s usually best to deal with it immediately. Otherwise you run the risk of building up resentment.
Be clear that their behavior doesn’t work for you and nor will it work for anyone if the team plans to achieve its goals. If possible, use a little humor to defuse any tension.
Don’t isolate yourself. If you withdraw or only mix with other minorities, you’ll achieve the opposite of what you want, which is to ben considered a valuable colleague and a team player.
Use your differences to your advantage. Help others who may be feeling left out for reasons of their own.
Remember that most of your fellow workers will want you to succeed. So, just as though you were in a sports team, they’ll expect you to do your share of work and to help create a successful environment for everyone.
Explain your background and your experiences so that others can see that really you’re not very different at all, except in minor details. Soon they’ll forget your differences and focus only on the similarities.
Finally, be authentic. Be the real you. Don’t assume responsibility for others like you, but encourage them to follow your example. Never lose faith in yourself.
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