I Feel Alienated at My Office. How Should I Relate to My Coworkers?

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a 50-something woman who works part-time. I feel alienated at my office because I’m not interested in the topics some of my colleagues discuss during breaks.

The workplace is full of women of my generation. They enjoy watching videos on their smartphones and interacting with each other in private. However, the group always tries to put me down.

Their jobs don’t require high skills, but they exaggerate and point out others’ mistakes while looking lightly on group members’ errors. They even make suggestions to our supervisor about who should be in charge of duties.

I’ve been with the company for years, but I was suddenly assigned to do an entry-level job. It’s a shame, because I worked hard in the belief that I’d eventually be entrusted with higher-level tasks.

Is there anything a person with poor communication skills can do, other than accept the situation? I don’t want to invest time and money in something I have zero interest to join the group.

How can I get along with people with whom I feel no connection?

— Q, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. Q:

You probably think the women in your office are idiots, and look down on them as lazy individuals who are all talk and no action.

It’s easy for them to pick up on this vibe — that’s why they’re so high-handed with you. They don’t even want you to join their smartphone video circle.

You say you want to do higher-level work, but opine that your workplace is not a high-level establishment. If you feel this job isn’t right for you, you should move on as soon as possible. However, until you address your innate arrogance, you’re likely to find yourself in a similar situation again, just as you described.

If you understand that you’re not a good communicator, you don’t have to talk to your coworkers and create relationships with them. But it must be hard for you to just continue on, grumbling and complaining. You need a reason to have self-belief.

You should be serious about investing time and money to improve yourself, such as by sitting the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test or a test in color coordination, or by studying Korean, or anything else that might interest you.

Don’t worry about what other people think. Improving yourself will make your life and work more meaningful.

True confidence — backed by hard work, not self-indulgence — will make you dependable and instill inner strength.

One day, you too, will have a circle of people around you, who have nothing to do with your smartphone.

— Shinji Ishii, writer