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Are You Accidentally Making Everyone At Work Hate You?
by Chris Malone,posted Jan 30 2013 7:38AM
It's a given that we all liked to be liked right? We feel more comfortable, part of the team and it doesn't add to the stress levels of work. Sadly, we may be doing some things that are making our co-workers dislike us! Here are 5 ways that could be making you enemy number one at work.
#5. It's Not What You Said, It's What You Didn't Say
For those of us who aren't great with people, we figure that silence is always the safest bet. If you're an introvert, you spend so much of your time wishing that other people would just shut the hell up that you figure you're doing everyone a favor. So, you run into a co-worker at the mall and think it's better to pass by in silence than do an awkward stop-and-chat that you'd probably screw up anyway.
This is literally the most frequent social mistake you could make. You didn't respond to the party invitation. You didn't reply to their funny text with a smiley. You didn't wish them a happy birthday. Now they're bitter and you're confused because, well, who would ever assume that silence is an insult?
So make sure to interact with your co-workers Follow through with being social both on the clock and if you run into each other off the clock.
#4. You Accidentally Asserted Power Over Them
So you applied for a mortgage and got a super low interest rate and minimal closing costs. That's something worth talking about right? Or you just flew back from a weekend in Paris and the maid forgot to take your Mac Duggal dress or Dolce & Gabbana jacket to the cleaners.Perfectly innocent conversations that can instantly backfire as bragging. Look, you know you have it good and you've worked hard and sacrificed for what you have but tone it down. If you look at celebrities that are admired the most you can see they belittle themselves. For example, Tina Fey pretends to be ugly and Jennifer Lawrence makes constant jokes about how gross and ugly she is, even though they pose for yet another magazine cover just minutes after making such statements.
#3. They Think You Owe Them
Have you ever broken up with somebody and had them bafflingly claim, "I can't believe you would just leave me like that! After everything I've done for you!" Or did you once refuse to do a favor for somebody for what seemed like a good reason (say, you couldn't help them move because you had work that day), only to see them get really, really irritated? Almost to the point that they're acting like you were paid for the work in advance and then didn't follow through? Like they thought you owed it to them?
There's a really good chance that the last person who got annoyed with you for seemingly no reason at all did it because you failed to pay a debt you didn't even know you owed. There's this weird thing where in most relationships, and maybe in every relationship at one point or another, both parties think the other side is in debt to them. Your workplace is probably like this as well -- everybody in your department thinks they heroically keep the place afloat with their tireless labor, while the boss thinks you're a bunch of slackers for whom the company generously puts food on the table. You're shocked and insulted when the company heartlessly announces layoffs and the boss is shocked and insulted when any of you quit without notice.
#2. You Wasted Their Time
All you did was email your boss with a simple question or idle thought, and they jumped down your throat! Then, later that night, you popped into your buddy's house unannounced, and like one minute later he's all acting annoyed, opening the door and saying, "Well, good to see you!" like he's ushering you out! Or maybe you're on the other end of the situation in the first entry -- you messaged an acquaintance with a "happy birthday" and you got cold, dead silence in return. How rude!
If you've been paying attention up to this point, you're already trying to figure out how this ties in to the power thing. Well, in the first example, the boss was way too busy at the time to put up with your issue. In the second, your friend clearly was too busy to entertain you for a three hour visit. In the third, the dude got too many birthday wishes to reply to them all. But in each case, due to the complicated power dynamics at play, they weren't allowed to openly say so. So don't take it personal. The person who is being terse with you, or who is clearly screening your calls, is often in an impossible situation. They're coming off as flaunting their power to screen you, while from their point of view, they have no power at all -- they spend all of their time seeing to the needs of the crowd. So, the most good-hearted of busy people just try to deal with your thing, quickly answering your question while silently gritting their teeth and thinking, "It would have taken him five seconds to Google this instead of emailing me."
If that sounds like they're making you pay for someone else's behavior, well, they are. That's the way it works -- prior offenses count, even when it was someone else who committed them. The cashier at the store got annoyed when you for pointing out their name rhymes with rock because they've that joke six times a day. Remember: You are nothing more than one link in somebody else's chain of human interactions. A chain that occasionally rubs them raw.
#1. You Assumed That Because You Were OK With a Situation, Everybody Was
This is the one that is by far the most likely to sneak up on you. Also, it exists at all levels -- between roommates, friends, spouses, ethnic groups, nations. In the office, this usually turns up as some pointless new rule that seems to come out of the blue like a memo says from now on nobody can adjust the thermostat without asking a supervisor. Another announces that the Christmas party is now the "winter holiday" party. In a relationship, it's the partner suddenly deciding after several years that they no longer want Friday to be meatloaf night.
You get the idea -- everything was going along absolutely perfectly fine, the system was running as intended, and suddenly they're making these arbitrary demands. You then hear yourself saying things like: "Why do they have to rock the boat just when things were going good?" "Why complain now, when we've always done it this way?" "I don't have a problem, you're the one who's screaming!" For example, you like to stay in on weekends, your girlfriend/boyfriend likes to go out. After a year or so, they give up and stop trying to get you off the sofa every Saturday. You interpret this as the relationship settling in just how you like it; meanwhile, they're so miserable that they're rehearsing their breakup speech. "But, but ... everything was going great!"
Sure it was. For you. You didn't perceive yourself as being in a position of power because that is the main advantage of power -- that you don't have to think about it. You don't think about money when you're eating at a restaurant. But you sure think about it when you're too poor to eat. And out of all of the pitfalls on this list, this is by far the worst, because it means that you can absolutely make other people hate you without lifting a finger. And you can do it without even knowing it. Which means that, unfortunately, avoiding it requires constant vigilance.
It's exhausting, I know. But hey, at least you'll have fewer people screaming at you.
A very special THANK YOU to David Wong of Cracked.com for this insight that may help you become the person you always wanted to be!