Do you ever feel invisible at work? Maybe more than just sometimes? I think many of us have felt that way at some point of our career. But if you have a job where you feel that way now and it’s starting to get to you, keep reading.
There’s a wonderful song called Mr. Cellophane in the show Chicago. Maybe you can relate to what he’s saying:
Shoulda Been My Name
‘Cause You Can Look Right Through Me
Walk Right By Me
And Never Know I’m There…”
So why do we feel invisible at work?
Well, sometimes it’s just our own perception
The way we feel about ourselves in our daily interactions can be a result of actual circumstances. But it can also be about what we bring to the experience from other places. Feelings and self-perceptions we picked up along the way — and carry around with us always.
Maybe it’s something we learned long ago when we were little. And maybe there were really tough times you had to deal with that left you a bit shell-shocked … or at least insecure about your place in the world. Baggage like that can easily make you feel invisible at work.
But you actually may be seen as a valuable addition to your boss and coworkers. A little shy perhaps, but valued. And here’s a little secret: even successful people can feel that way at times. You are definitely not alone. Now you just need to figure out how to help yourself feel seen.
But sometimes we need to do more
So if you do feel invisible at work, if it’s just a matter of your own perception, you need to know that. And if not, you need to know that too so you can start to change things for yourself. Either way, talk with your boss. Even if it feels hard or like the last thing on earth you want to do, do it anyway.
For those of you who actually are well-respected at work, you’ll get a pleasant surprise. Plus it’s a useful reality check. And if you do need to step things up, this can help turn the situation around. Or at least it can be a first step to becoming more visible — and hopefully starting to like your job a lot more.
In both cases, you can work with your boss to set goals that can help. And maybe you’ll even take on new projects where you do get seen — and noticed. Sure, being invisible has its benefits, since you can lurk in the “safe” shadows. But if it does bother you to feel so invisible, then it might be worth the risk of letting you and your work out into the light.
NOTE: Look, if you feel invisible but that’s actually the way you like it, then don’t worry about it. As long as you aren’t in the dark about being on the way out (this is why you need to talk to your boss), if you’re happy and get good reviews, then balance your work life as you see fit.
But if there is a chance you might enjoy work more by daring to step out of the shadows (even a little more), maybe it’s worth taking that first small step. Perhaps a new project that lets you use skills and talents you’d really enjoy.
And sometimes we just need to move on
Life is too short to spend year after year feeling invisible for so many hours of the day. Human beings thrive when we feel appreciated and listened to. Especially with feedback that helps us know our contributions do matter.
In some cases, you may need to move on because you’re not doing a good job. And, if you can’t fix this one (worth trying), know that there’s another job out there that’s a better fit. The right job can make all the difference. And if you need to acquire new skills or contacts first to get yourself there, go for it!
But even if you are doing a good job, some bosses or work environments are good at letting people hide. Or keeping them down because of their own unhelpful perceptions — or bullying tendencies. It’s worth checking to see if some part of you feels that it’s not you as much as just a really wrong fit.
You deserve a job where you are valued
And you deserve a job that lets you shine …
As much or as little as you want!
Some posts to help:
And just in case you do need to leave