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By Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

RISMEDIA, May 24, 2008-(MCT)-Question: I often feel like an outsider in this office.. All my co-workers are in their 20s and 30s. The whole group goes out for “happy hour” once every six weeks. My boss’s boss came up with this idea, and he always attends. I usually avoid these get-togethers, because I don’t feel comfortable with the youngsters. Recently, a good friend said that this is a mistake. She believes my colleagues and managers will think that I’m snubbing them. I had a pretty good time at one happy hour, but I’ve skipped the last two. Do you think I should start going?Answer: When you were bopping to the Beatles and watching the first moon landing, your office cohorts weren’t even born. So of course you feel different. But the more you let these feelings isolate you, the more you actually will become an outsider. Happy hours are not a job requirement, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to go. However, attendance does bring political benefits.

Social interaction will strengthen your working relationships. And because your boss’s boss organized these outings, he may notice who shows up. And more important, who doesn’t. Chatting with the young folks may be easier than you think. Simply listen to their stories, ask about their interests, and look for common bonds. You might enjoy getting to know them.

Since your last happy hour experience went well, give it another try. A few months from now, you may wonder why you ever stayed home.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com.

© 2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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