How quiet is my office? Why is nobody talking and laughing with me? Is something wrong with me? Why is it so difficult to talk to the people I see every day and spend most of the day with them?
Sounds familiar? Despite high potential for social interaction, many of us feel disconnected at our workplaces. Amongst tight deadlines, client calls, team meetings, we sit down with a cup of coffee, nodding to familiar faces and yet we feel lost, unable to share our hearts with anyone. Loneliness is usually perceived as a private problem but there is more to it, with loneliness and isolation coming together making it a concern of social in nature. This unwanted solitude can be difficult to figure out, as displaying emotions at work is not the social norm in a society. People are afraid of appearing weak, and therefore mask themselves in order to avoid judgment. Loneliness is also an effect of inadequate attention given to each one of the members who are working as a team. . By changing our perspective and letting ourselves be a part of the workplace, we can break this deadlock.
After conducting a survey on 672 workers in 143 teams, Hakan Ozcelik and Sigal Barsade concluded that loneliness led to weaker productivity, less motivation, withdrawal from work and low performance levels. More importantly, the study also showed that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum that “co-workers can recognize this loneliness and see it hindering team member effectiveness.”
Steven Miranda of Cornell University told the Fortune Magazine in 2014 that people who are lonely and disengaged at work deliver far less non-compulsory effort than people who have a support system or a go-to person at work.”
Finding like-minded people, valuing and deepening our interactions with our colleagues can break the ice and make us feel connected again. It can also help someone else feeling the same break their own barriers.
Ways to deal with loneliness at workplace.
- Identify why you feel lonely at your workplace- Whether you are shy, you do not get along well with your colleagues, or it is the structure of the organization that facilitates a formal code of conduct. As there will be a concerns that we can deal which are under our control but it would be difficult to deal with the ones which are still our concerns but they not under our control.
- Take short breaks from work to connect to friends via text/call- For someone who is social, it does get difficult to work in an environment which does not facilitate formation of social groups at work. Talking/keeping in touch on how things are going at work/life to friends outside work can quench your social need.
- Add something to your surrounding- For Example, plug in your earphones and tune into your favorite music or podcasts or anything you would want to keep running at the back in order to keep the ongoing flow of your work provided you stay focused towards the work and your co-workers do not complain about it.
- Keep your own sense of humor-Try using the social habit of sharing humor with your co-workers. If you cannot share or connect with your co-workers or towards the extreme side, despite your efforts going unseen, a sense of humor always does the wonders of at least you feeling happy at that one moment that you can be persistent with to maintain your well-being.
- Get to know a go-to person- You can socialize with someone who has been in the organization longer than you and who comes across to you as a social person. This step would help you to at least have an understanding of your existing co-workers and the small nuances in people’s personalities.
- Take the initiative of saying what you feel – Be it a compliment, a greeting in the morning or while you are leaving from work or when you find something unfavorable for you at your workplace, take the efforts and express it in order to make the work atmosphere more comfortable to work within.
- Share your personal story/challenge at work- When you share and welcome suggestions, you give a window to other people on your accounts of Work-life. By opening this window, you also let other people speak freely with you. This could help you in creating a social bond or friendship. Though, should be used with caution, assessing the culture of the organization.
- Welcome feedback- There are times when one feels like an odd one in a social setting. It could be due to a different set of attitudes/values/experiences/assignment of tasks. One can welcome feedback and see it as a free market research on oneself. Instead of discarding it, you can introspect and work on those shortcomings. Anything that you think improves your individual/social/work self could be incorporated.
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”- Albert Einstein
Read more about loneliness– empty nest syndrome | how to deal with loneliness in college | cause of loneliness | isolation and loneliness | how to deal with loneliness
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