How easy it is to find that you do not belong.

Let me count (some) of the ways:

You are the only woman in the team

You are the only person over 50 in the team

You are the only person of colour in the team

You are the only LGBTQI+ person in the team

You are the only disabled person in the team

You are the youngest person in the team

You are the only northerner in the team

You are the only English person in the team

You are the shortest person in the team

You are the only introvert on the team

You are the only married person in the team

You’re the only person without a “significant other” on the team

You are the only working mum in the team

You are the only person with diagnosed mental illness on the team

You are the only person with a hot flush in the team

You are the only religiously devout person on the team

You are the only non-drinker in the team

You are the only person who didn’t go to university in the team

You are the only person who doesn’t ski

You are the only public school boy on the team

You are the only person on the team that doesn’t follow cricket/football/Love Island/rugby

You are the only person on the team without Netflix

You are the only person on the team without kids at home

You don’t have a puppy

You don’t speak digital acronyms

All you know about AI is from Bladerunner

Your idea of team bonding doesn’t involve the pub

You are offended by banter

You are bereft of a way of connecting without banter

You hate it when you are challenged in public

You cannot cope with politics

You are obsessed with FOMO

If you don’t get a compliment you assume you’re out of favour

You are lonely at the top

You are crushed at the bottom and feel like you do all the work and get none of the credit

You didn’t grow up with the same kids TV shows as the rest of the team

You are disappointed to know that you have to pretend to be different than your real self in order to fit in

You come from a working class background and the team is middle class

You are hiding your real feelings in case they make people like you less

And so it goes on….

Feeling like you don’t fit in can be for a myriad of reasons.  They are not equivalent by any means.  As one interviewee told me for our book Belonging: “I now know that if my profile (as a straight white middle class man) changes by one increment, my (professional) journey becomes harder.  If I change it by two or three or four, it becomes impossible.”

However, if you have ever felt that you don’t belong, then you can do something wonderful.  You can empathise and imagine what others might be feeling.  And if you do this then you can help them to feel like they belong with positive affirmations and standing up for them when you sense that they are being left out.

In our book Belonging, the key to transforming and maintaining diversity, inclusion and equality at work (and just shortlisted for the 2021 Business Book Awards UK), we explain exactly how to lead from every seat.

You can be a champion of Belonging and drive real change in your place of work so that no-one feels like an unwanted outlier.

So that everyone feels like they belong.

 

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