In your personal life, you can walk away from toxic friendships. At the office, it’s more difficult to distance from someone who tries to take advantage of you. You’ll want to find other ways to cope.
You’ve probably run into this situation at least once. A coworker takes credit for an idea you mentioned to them before a meeting. Another employee invents excuses for shifting their assignments to you.
Being helpful is part of being a team player, but being a doormat can undermine your career and peace of mind. Learn how to achieve balance, so you can be supportive and respected.
Steps to Take on Your Own:
Your coworkers are responsible for their actions, but you could be making it easier for others to impose on you.
Try these tips for preventing trouble on the job:
- Check your job description. Understand your responsibilities in order to figure out if a request for help is reasonable. A written job description can also be valuable documentation in case of a conflict. If you don’t have one, ask your boss or HR department to take care of that.
- Set goals. Create targets for yourself that align with your employer’s mission and give you an opportunity to advance your career. If you’re busy with your own priorities, you’re less vulnerable to distractions.
- Maintain boundaries. How do you want others to treat you, and what will you do if they overstep your limits? Be clear with yourself and others in your workplace.
- Stay calm. You might feel anxious and frustrated if you think a coworker is trying to benefit at your expense. However, you’ll probably be more effective if you stay objective. Learning to relax under pressure will also relieve stress.
- Plan ahead. Rehearsing your responses is one way to feel surer of yourself. Run through different scenarios in your head or act them out with your partner or a friend. You’ll know what to say on the spot instead of realizing it later.
- Value yourself. Make self-love a daily habit. Adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Take time out to have fun and cultivate close relationships.
- Move on. If your job is still draining you, it may be time to consider other options. Update your resume and apply for other positions. You may feel more empowered even if you decide to stay where you are.
Steps to Take with Your Coworkers:
What can you do if you’re already feeling exploited?
Experiment with different strategies for taking back control:
- Talk it over. Your coworker may not realize the impact they’re having on you, or they may even think they’re being helpful. Start by letting them know your preferences without making any judgements. You may wind up with a new office buddy.
- Be assertive. On the other hand, there are times when you need to be firm. Become more skillful at saying no. Speak politely and directly without feeling guilty or making excuses.
- See your boss. Try to resolve your differences on your own first. However, a pushy coworker may back off if you tell them that you need to clarify expectations with your boss.
- Teach others. Do others come to you for tasks they’re unable to complete on their own? Volunteering to train others may take a load off of you and impress your boss.
- Consider counseling. If you struggle to be assertive, therapy may help. Talking with a professional can give you new insights and coping strategies.
Stand up for yourself if you think you’re being taken advantage of at work. You can help create an environment where colleagues do their share and help each other out.