Tips for overcoming feelings of outsider status and becoming part of the clique

Faith Wood: Four steps that ensure you become part of the cliqueIf you’ve ever found yourself in a leadership role on a board, you’ve likely encountered the criticism that your group is too cliquey.

A clique refers to a small group of individuals who share common interests or characteristics and tend to spend time together, often excluding others from joining their circle.

Leaders often spend countless hours discussing how to address this recurring complaint.

But is the idea of cliques grounded in reality?

It certainly could be. Humans naturally seek belonging and camaraderie. We gravitate towards those who share similar interests and provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. Finding a tribe that accepts us brings genuine comfort.

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When entering a new social setting, we may find ourselves thinking, “These aren’t my people.” Conversely, we might long to be part of the inner circle so much that we question if something is lacking in ourselves that prevents us from fitting in with the “cool kids.”

Feeling excluded when we desire inclusion is disheartening. It’s easy to attribute this feeling to the perceived cliquishness of the group.

As a child, I had a fallback when feeling like an outsider: being a twin meant instant friendship. However, my upbringing may have fostered a more reserved demeanour than was helpful later in life.

I’ve certainly experienced feeling invisible in a new group until I forced myself to become more engaged. It’s a discomforting feeling. Being welcomed into an established group by someone I already know and trust feels akin to having a twin replacement.

As a community-oriented person, I endeavour to warmly welcome newcomers at meetings. However, at times, especially during conferences, my eagerness to connect with familiar faces may inadvertently neglect new acquaintances. This behaviour isn’t intentional cliquishness.

If you’ve ever felt like the new kid on the block, allow me to offer a few humble recommendations based on my own experiences:

  1. Get involved and quickly contribute if you aspire to be part of the inner circle. Whether assisting at the welcome table or serving in another capacity, working alongside other community-minded individuals offers ample opportunities to build rapport with leaders.
  2. Put yourself out there when you’re the new kid. Initiate conversations, express genuine interest in others, share your ideas, and offer assistance whenever possible. Attend social events, even if you’re feeling shy because you don’t know anyone.
  3. Maintain a cheerful disposition and strive to be a source of positive energy whenever you interact with others. Lurking in the background won’t aid your quest for inclusion.
  4. Instead of lamenting about the group’s perceived cliquishness, honestly reflect on your efforts. We attract what we project, so ensure you’re approachable if you desire to be approached.

By implementing these strategies, you’ll forge numerous connections, and others may soon start to complain about how “cliquey” you and your group have become.

Faith Wood is a professional speaker, author, and certified professional behaviour analyst. Before her career in speaking and writing, she served in law enforcement, which gave her a unique perspective on human behaviour and motivations. Faith is also known for her work as a novelist, with a focus on thrillers and suspense. Her background in law enforcement and understanding of human behaviour often play a significant role in her writing.

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