Have you ever heard the phrase “odd person out”?
It means you don’t fit. You don’t measure up for some reason. You are excluded. Being odd person out can hurt if for some unfair reason one is descriminated against.
While I certainly can’t claim discrimination the way many people understand the term, I’ve been odd man out numerous times. I’ve been there because I’m pastor at times. People assume I can’t also be fun – or I would judge their activities – so there are many social events I don’t get invited to attend. I remember feeling this way as the only person from a single-parent home among my friends in high school.
We’ve all been excluded at some point in life for some reason.
It’s a bad thing to be “odd person out” by no choice of your own, but some people actually place themselves in the position by the decisions they make and the way they respond to others. It happens all the time in team dynamics.
Some people seem to choose to be ” odd person out”. The choices they make cause them not to fit well on a particular team.
I’ve led or worked with many teams and whether there are a few people or many on who make up the team, there can often be one who chooses to be “odd person out”. And, in fairness, it may or may not be a conscious decision they’ve made – they simply don’t fit well with the rest of the team, but they got there by some of their own decisions.
If unaddressed it can be dangerous for organizational health. Trying to build consensus or form team spirit becomes more difficult. Morale is infected by the intentional “odd person out”. Spotting this as the problem early can avoid further issues down the road.
In this post, I’ll address some ways this occurs or symptoms of the issue. I’m writing from the perspective of the one who doesn’t fit well on the team.
Here are 8 ways to be the “odd person out” on a team:
Be resistant to every change – Whenever a new idea is presented, always be the first to say it won’t work. You don’t have to have a reason. Just oppose it.
Always be negative – about everything – See the glass half-empty. Always. There’s nothing good about this place – leader – idea – day – life.
Always have an excuse – It’s not your fault. It’s someone else’s fault. Always.
Never have the solution – It’s your job to point out problems, not to help solve them. In fact, you don’t care to build – you’re here to tear down. And, you intend to do your job well.
Hold opinions until after something isn’t working well – Make sure everyone knows you were opposed to the idea from the start. You can clearly see how things should have been done. And, you make sure everyone knows.
Talk behind people’s back – Rather than going to the source – it stirs more drama if you talk about someone rather than to someone. Of course, you talk behind the leader’s back too, though your usually extremely pleasant in their presence.
Refuse to participate in any team social activities – Who needs them, right? Why would you want to hang out with people you work with? You might get to know them – and they might get to know you.
Don’t buy into the vision – And, actually, this translates into working against the vision. You may even have a vision of your own.
Of course, these are written with a hint of sarcasm, but these people distance themselves from others on the team by the way they respond on the team. Have you ever worked with anyone like this?
As you read the list, do you spot the “odd person out” on your team?
It should be noted, this doesn’t mean these are bad people. Many times, I’ve learned, these people were injured in some way previously. It could have been on the job or in their personal life. They may have been passed over for a promotion or they began to feel taken advantage of in some way. They may have social disorders which need to be addressed. They may just really be negative about their own life and bring this attitude into their professional life. Often, understanding why they feel as they do can help address their performance on the team.
I should also note, I’m not advocating always agreeing with a team. It’s okay to have different opinions, challenge the system – and even the leader. Differing viewpoints help make us all better. The key is to do so in a spirit of cooperation, not a spirit of disruption. You don’t have to be the odd person out – even if you’re different from everyone else. In fact, don’t be.
What characteristics would you add of a person who purposefully doesn’t fit on a team?