I just read this.
Something like 30% of Americans feels lonely or left out at least once a week.
I still remember back in school when the guys in my class went to a party and I found out after the weekend. That felt like a stab in my gut.
Now, I can still feel left out if people talk and have fun and I’m in the fringe.
(This happens to everyone all the time, but we tend to only notice when it happens to US.)
You can divide people into two groups depending on how they tackle being left out in a group.
The first one is the Pusher
When the pusher feels left out, he or she tries to push their way back in by cracking jokes, talking more, or do anything that attracts attention.
The second one is the Withdrawer
He or she does the opposite and withdraws when they feel left out. They get quiet or walk away.
Both these strategies just move us further away from everyone else.
We don’t want to push harder, and we don’t want to withdraw.
When I felt left out, my thoughts started spinning… Why was I left out? What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they like me?
Do you see what’s happening here?
When I feel left out, I start focusing on ME.
I’m the Pusher, so my instinct is to break in with jokes or take up more space. But because I was in my own head, I forgot to pay attention to the mood of the group.
One time, people had a thoughtful conversation about children and marriage, and I, feeling left out, pulled a joke that got a few chuckles, but then they continued without me.
I just wanted to be funny. But it backfired.
Do you see what I did wrong here?
I didn’t pay attention to realize that this was a thoughtful conversation, because I was in my own head and just wanted to get attention.
Instead, I should have focused on what they were saying and what the mood was, and add something thoughtful that matched this mood.
Bam! That’s how you become a part of a group of friends.
We don’t need to withdraw, nor push. We want to match the mood, energy, and topic of the group we’re in.
When we don’t, people just get annoyed, because it’s frustrating when someone tries to change the course of whatever we’re into.
(I go more into detail about how to join a conversation in my article “How do you join a group conversation if you’re not supposed to interrupt?”)
What happened the last time you felt left out? Are you a Pusher or a Withdrawer? I’d love to hear in the comments!