What Women Can Do When They Feel Marginalized at Work

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By EmployDiversity

Feeling rejected or marginalized at work can be a painful and difficult experience. Although you may feel defeated in the moment, being marginalized can be an opportunity for learning and self-growth. Learning from rejection requires the difficult step of seeking out and receiving feedback from others. If you can muster the courage to do this, you can learn from the experience and be stronger going forward.

Are you being marginalized at work? 

Rejection can occur in many different situations and can be large or small in impact. It can be unexpected or unsurprising if you believe the likelihood of being awarded a contract or promotion is low. You may be marginalized if you:

  • Did not receive a promotion

  • Were not selected for a great assignment

  • Didn’t get invited to a co-worker’s party

  • Consistently find your boss cancelling your meetings with him

  • Did not receive a bonus or salary increase

  • Had a co-worker push you out of a project

5 steps to deal with being marginalized at work

Being marginalized can make you angry, spiteful, and depressed. You don’t have to avoid the negative feelings that come with rejection, but you can choose to deal with them effectively.  

Control your emotions

It is natural to feel sad or angry but letting those emotions show won’t help you get the feedback you need. Your goal should be to find out why you were passed over for that project or promotion. If your boss doesn’t think you’re capable of taking honest feedback, they will not feel comfortable providing it. An emotional outburst can leave others feeling manipulated and may compromise perceptions of your professionalism.  

Ask for feedback

If you’ve been marginalized, gather up the courage to ask why. You might not realize that your behaviour is off-putting to your colleagues and limiting your success. It’s important that you be ready to receive feedback and understand that it may be tough to hear. Demonstrating that you’re open to receiving feedback is critical if others are to be honest with you. Do not get defensive or accusatory or the person providing the feedback will quickly shut down.

Learn from feedback

It’s important to process all of the information and keep an open mind. Remember, you asked for the feedback! Your goal is to learn from it. Hearing negative feedback can be difficult, but the people providing the feedback are also in a tough spot. They may sanitize their feedback because of their own discomfort. It’s important to listen to them, consider what they are not saying, and ask questions to learn more.

Make changes

If the feedback you received identified some shortcomings, make a plan to improve or change. You can involve your manager or colleagues who will be honest with you. If you missed out on a promotion due to a lack of experience, work with your manager to gain what’s needed.

Tell others

Everyone is busy, and no one will be monitoring your progress. It’s important that you be vocal about your accomplishments and let others know what improvements you’re making.  If you’re taking a new training course, casually let your boss or colleagues know. If your manager is involved in your improvement plan, occasionally let them know what progress you’re making and ask for advice when you need it.

While difficult, being marginalized can be a learning opportunity. Be proactive about seeking feedback and creating an improvement plan so that you’ll be the top choice for the next promotion or project.