Clique Out

I have always hated cliques. They remind me of pecking orders. When I use to read Dr. Dobson’s books when my kids were little, he used to say better hope your child isn’t on the low end of the pecking order in school or he/she may have problems and definitely suffer with self-esteem issues.  And that is what pecking orders are as adults, cliques and just as detrimental mentally.

We are all born with innate sense of venerability. We all need to be held, fed and loved. As we are fostered and nurtured, if we are lucky, much of the desperation for those needs to be met immediately and substantially in large quotas goes away. We grow up and mature and do not need to scream, bang our fists and stomp our feet to get our needs met.  Though we all see the occasional exception to the rule, invariably, this is true.

Hitting middle and high school years, the pecking order is so much a part of the norm you can walk into any high school USA and know who is in what group. It usually goes something like this, sports jocks, cheerleaders, popular, band members, goody-too-shoes, science/math majors; we don’t fit in and don’t care, smart-ass kids, drug users, drop-outs, and then a few others. The ones on the top groups of the popularity list get major boosts in their esteem building in high school. It isn’t because they have anything at all over anyone else.  It is simply because of their association with the right group.  It really is an unfair unjust system and schools should work harder to not allow the lines to be drawn so tightly. It alienates kids who need the added lift at school who might not be getting it at home or anywhere else.

Reaching adulthood, all the sudden 18 year olds are thrown into the “real world.’  Supposedly high school is left behind. In many senses it is. In college, if attending a commuter college, there isn’t too much of this nonsense. Big name colleges with fraternities and sororities, you have that acceptance piece again if joining clubs.  Everyone will do everything to get accepted, outside of reason infact.  So many cases have been documented whereby stupidity supersedes logical thinking.  Even with the sports athlete on an all paid scholarship, for the hopes of gaining acceptance and admiration into the right group, no holds are barred. 

We, as a society, long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Somehow this must be imparted onto our youth. We harbor that vulnerability that just us, by ourself, is simply not enough and we need to belong, even if the norm is not right. We even pull back and say nothing if we see others hurt by our participation and their exclusion.

In the working world for years, in several different roles, I saw this play out continually. It was much more prevalent with women than men. This stage of the game, they are called cliques. These are groups of people that find niche areas where they seem to fit together well.  Work is obviously a connection.

Men seem to realize independence shows confidence and esteem whereby women seem to equate power with belonging to a power group, popularity.  And many times, that popularity, I have seen firsthand, is not used in a positive way.  There is cat-fighting, gossiping, down-grading, and back-stabbing to get ahead.   Men seem to be much more upfront with the confrontations and thus, resolve them a great deal quicker and without mental stress.

The cliques extend to so many areas of life, including sports teams, churches, and clubs for various ailments that mutual folks suffer from, e.g. cancer.  All of these groups and organizations are for a soul purpose usually, connecting people for a common mission.  And yet, within it, there seems to be an innate human nature to have mini groups form where some folks feel they are over and above others. They use that self-proclaimed power to influence members they deem worthy in a negative way, a select few. It gives them a greater feeling of pride in themselves at the expense of others, other’s hurt feelings.

 The outcome is the members not on their goody goody list fall on the short end of the stick and get left out. They are the ones that have little input, are talked about, not included as much and truly show the group is not operating as a group but as multiple cliques, like high school and not mature adults.  Any of this sound familiar?  These groups often create more esteem issues for members on the outs who are less confrontational and are less willing, over time, to want to get involved.  Infact, they just may walk away. There is no magical age when people enjoy being left out and treated badly. 

It amazes me that some folks just don’t see this pattern, even in organizations that are geared solely for supportive purposes, the good of all that participate.  One bad seed in a group where someone has issues can build up a clique of people in a snap.  They can create an image of themselves in a favorable light and get all those around them to literally leave others out in the cold. 

This happens without folks questioning the motives or the reason the cliques have formed in the first place. These usually always form because the ones that are in charge are truly the ones that are creating this type of environment or the ones leading the cliques are spear-heading it.  Remember, the least confidant person will use others to gain a false sense of importance by manipulating others to join them and by putting others down, excluding them.  Your silence is your acceptance of this behavior.

Not being inclusive with all beings, whether it is with children or adults, in a work setting or play, is never okay.  We all deserve to be treated and respected with dignity. Leaving others out and not working equally hard to make everyone feel a part of whatever they are participating in is making an organization weaker and more doomed for failure.  Think of the things you tell your children when they are not included. Be sure you are practicing these principles in your own activities as an adult. So many adults are not.

If you are part of a group and desire success, encourage members to build each other up and not tearing each other down.  You can be the catalyst for change and redirect energy away from cliques and towards inclusive unions and improve everyone’s esteem and productivity by helping everyone click. 
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