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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Office Cliques

Dear Sue: What do you think of office mates who host parties at their own residences, but only invite some of the individuals who work in the office? Our office is not big; there are only 30 of us working here and most of us have worked cohesively together for the past few years. From what I can see, there have been a handful of people who have not been included in the gatherings. Incidentally, these get-togethers have been distributed throughout the office via email and/or routing envelopes.

As one of the few left out of these gatherings, I am finding it difficult to understand. I am considering bringing this to the attention of the president. I am not doing it to merely to complain or get people into trouble, but feel that if he were to send word to everyone about office protocol that it would have some impact.

– Left out

Sue Says: Groups and cliques are commonplace in most work environments, and it is never fun to be the one excluded. No matter what size the company, cliques can be found. The bigger the company, the more opportunity there is to find people outside a clique for you to connect with. In your small company, with just a few people being left out makes it all the more obvious and painful.

In elementary school, if kids are handing out invitations and not inviting the whole class, most are discouraged from distributing the invitations at school. It’s fun for those who are, but painful for those who are not. It used to be that valentines were given in school randomly, but now kids are instructed to bring cards for the entire class, and for the same reason; it hurts to be left out. It hurts as a kid and it hurts as an adult too.

While there may be a reason a handful of you are left out, there is a good chance that the people hosting these events are oblivious to you and the others left out, and simply are inviting the people they feel closest to.

Bringing the issue to their attention is a wise thing to do; establishing protocol will be a benefit to everyone. If you feel it is best to have the suggestion come from the president, then proceed with your plan. I am not sure it has to come from the president or anyone else – you might be the perfect person to propose the new protocol.

As long as you don’t blame anyone or have ulterior motives, the suggestion to use other means of distributing invitations could come from you. However you decide to proceed, do something; there are more people than you realize who will appreciate your efforts.

Dear Sue: I am 16 years old and was wondering how to check on my job application. Recently I put in applications and no one has called. I just wanted to know what to say to check on it and what to do.

 – Sixteen

Sue Says: Don’t wait for them to call you – pick up the phone and call them. The more interested you appear the better. Right now, your application is one of many that are sitting in a pile on someone’s desk.

You may or may not ever get a call as a result of filling out the application. However, if you make the call or better yet, personally introduce yourself to the manager you’ll have a better chance of getting an interview and ultimately, a job.

You have to stand out and work hard for what you want; submitting an application is the first step, securing an interview the next. You probably weren’t called and asked to fill out the application – you went in, requested an application and submitted it. The same is true for the interview and getting a job offer – you need to go after it. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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