The Unexpected Perks Of Being The Office Pariah

So you never really found a way to fit in at work. Jill from accounting thinks you’re a loser, and Ben (who’s a traveling salesman and shouldn’t have an opinion because he doesn’t even know you) gives you the cold shoulder whenever he sees you. So what?

No, really: So what? If the people at work don’t like you — and they may have myriad reasons, both good and bad — it’s not the end of the world. And it’s time you stop dreading the awkward interactions with people in the copy room and start accepting the fact that if you’re not going to change anyone’s mind about liking you (you won’t) you may as well live your best life as the office’s chosen social outcast.

Don’t worry, though. Being the office pariah isn’t awful. In fact, it can be pretty damn rewarding.

Here’s why:

No one will ever invite you to anything.

No matter what anyone tells you, no one wants to spend their time outside of the office with people that they spend forty hours a week working alongside. Even if you like the people you work with, there’s no denying that once five o’clock hits all you want to do is steamroll everyone else to the elevator and get home.

That’s why being the person everyone is annoyed by is actually a pretty sweet deal. Instead of pretending that you’re just going to “network” with the team at Chili’s, you can shut off your computer and confidently stride out of the building, knowing that you don’t have to give the people at your place of employment a single thought off company time. And think of all the time and money you save by skipping the happy hour and just microwaving a Lean Cuisine at home. Let your office mates whisper about their clandestine get-togethers at TGI Friday’s to their heart’s content. You’ve got a bubble bath and a whole new season of Orange Is the New Black to get through.

You don’t have to pretend to like your coworkers, thus giving you the freedom to focus on real friendships and/or valuable skills.

Here’s the thing: building alliances with your cube mates and establishing micro-feuds with the people ten feet over is exhausting. It not only takes away from what you’re really supposed to be doing at work (watching YouTube), but it takes an emotional toll as well. Just trying to piece together who you’re supposed to be friends with this week is a tiring exercise in a court intrigue of you never signed up for.

The good news, if you’re the office pariah, is that you’ll never be asked to weigh in on who’s okay and who’s not (you), which will give you time to dust off your resume, learn a new language during your numerous restroom breaks, or get on Gchat and talk to your real friends about how awful everyone at your job is.

You never have to keep in touch with these people again.

Don’t you hate that song and dance most people have to do when they leave their current job? We’re talking the whole “let’s keep in touch forever” thing where you exchange non-company email addresses and phone numbers and promise you’ll totally get together and still be friends even though the one thing you have in common will disappear as soon as you walk out that door. People everyone dislikes? They don’t have to worry about doing that. And they don’t have to pretend that the “friendships they’ve made along the way” are in any way meaningful or important to them.

You don’t have to say yes unless you really want to.

Whether people like you or not, they’re going to ask you for favors. If you’re the person everyone is annoyed by, it might be tempting to do all the favors you can in the hopes that the people who think less of you than they should (they’re no better than you, friend!) will suddenly change their mind and realize you’re not so bad after all. But that’s never going to happen. Instead, they’ll probably accept the favor and then secretly make fun of you anyway.

Don’t let any of that get you down, though. If people have already decided they dislike you, you’ve actually got more freedom than you think. Knowing that nothing you do will change someone’s opinion of you frees you to say no as much as you need to. You can certainly help someone out if you’d like, but if people are going to hate regardless, you’re not beholden to helping them out if it’s an inconvenience.

And if you say no enough (and at the right time), your co-workers’ dislike may not waver, but their respect for you may go up.

“I don’t like that guy,” Nate from finance might say one day, “but I’ve got to respect the way he stands up for himself.”

Working with people you hate may actually force you to be better. 

Surprised? Don’t be. It’s easy to think that working with someone you really, really like is going to be easy, but when the people you’re working with are your friends you step into dangerous territory where decisions you make about work turn personal and vice-versa.

When those people are not your friends and you’re not trying to win their love and affection, it becomes easier to make decisions, disagree, and stand up for what you think is right. We’re not saying you’ll always be correct, but you’ll at least be free of the fear that you’ll lose your weekend plans if you let the person you’re working on a project with know that you disagree with the direction they’re taking.

But there’s one more thing that working with people who dislike you can force you to do: gain more confidence. Sure, it’s easy to think that if people have decided they’re against you that there’s something wrong with you, but you’ve got to really think about how group mentality and hive minds work. Some people may act like they’re not cool with you because they don’t want the majority to turn on them. So instead of succumbing to the pain of thinking you’re not good enough (you are!), you should take this time as an opportunity to try out new things in your job and think about what you will and won’t put up with in the future.

And hey, if all else fails, you can always purchase huge headphones to wear at your desk and drink heavily on your lunch hour.