Open admission: I didn’t care too much for high school. The primary reason is that I didn’t fall squarely into the so-called Cool Kids Club. I was therefore an outsider, which in some ways proved to be just fine and in other ways was excruciatingly painful. In social circles, ostracism can be a brutal punishment. Maybe this resonates with you (and if you were one of the Cool Kids in high school, it’s fine now…I’m friends with many of them now via Facebook…funny how time changes us…but I digress).
The point I’m attempting to make is to be mindful of your own community. Do you have any cliques? Is there an “elite” class who may be excluding other members from their group? I’m not suggesting that allowing groups to form is a negative. Just be careful about the dynamics forming from this behavior. If members feel they are not included and welcome in different areas of the community, they’ll likely make way for the door.
What to do? Here are four ideas to get you started:
- Build a language of inclusion into your community communications. Don’t miss an opportunity to express the values of the community. And if you don’t have a guiding set of values, create them.
- Monitor discussions and interactions. Look at how community “elders” communicate with “newbies.” Is it respectful or disdainful? You may need to pull out some conflict mediation skills here.
- Reach out to the individuals in the cliquish group. Chances are they don’t realize the potential harm of their actions. Calmly and clearly remind them of the community’s values and desire for inclusion.
- Find members who model an inclusive approach and send them an appreciative message. You’re rewarding action that you want to see.
Have you ever had to break up a clique or flag inappropriate behavior like this? What did you do? Love to hear your stories.
Oh and by the way, Heathers is one of the most grossly underrated films of all time.