Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being misunderstood and unappreciated:
I work as a receptionist and employee applicant registration officer for a company that provides employees to specific industry in our area. I think I’m polite and kind to people and I try to resolve problems peacefully and courteously. However, most of the people I talk to on the phone or in person are rude and discourteous and are not well educated or able to communicate very well.
At first I tried to be polite and communicate effectively but after about three months of trying I started feeling very stressed and depressed over it. I started getting fed up with rude and unpleasant people demanding things from me. They are often angry, seem to give off bad energy and demand that I give them a job, even though I am not the Human Resource person, I’m just the person who takes their application.When I was hired no one told me to answer phone calls in a certain way or how I should handle the rude callers we receive.
On my own I answered the phone by mentioning the company name and asking how I could help. Some of my colleagues even teased me about being too courteous and that I should just say “Hello.” But, I kept trying to be courteous even though the people calling were not. My colleagues said most people in my job quit quickly. Now I understand why! But, I’ve been here for five months trying to do my job well. Another example of the good quality of my work is that I often have to ask questions in one language and translate into English. I also have to find out the details of their work history because they don’t know how to write a CV (resume) that can be understood or used for employment. When I realized most applicants didn’t know how to write a CV I developed instructions, on my own, and posted them on the wall. Some applicants follow the instructions and some don’t.Another problem is that applicants are supposed to bring some specific materials in when they apply. Some of them don’t bring in the material so I have to politely explain that I can’t register them and that gets them even more upset and increases the stress on me. At the same time some of the other people in the office don’t realize how much work I’m doing so they bring tasks for me to do and get upset when I say no, I can’t do the extra work for them.All of that leads up to what recently has happened.
The new Director of the company is apparently disappointed with my work and thinks I don’t know how to answer the phone correctly and courteously. He bases that opinion on one thing that happened on his first day. Someone had called for him and I transferred the call but he didn’t answer. I told the caller that the Director couldn’t answer, but right at that moment the Director walked up and I told him someone on the phone wanted to talk to him. He got very upset that I didn’t get the caller’s name and went on and on and on about how I didn’t answer the phone correctly and how I lack communication skills.
He has no idea about how hard I have tried for four months to do a good job and how I’ve been the most polite person in the office. He doesn’t know anything about how stressful this job is, he just thinks I’m rude. And to make things worse, he has asked a new manager, a guy who just graduated from college and is four years older than me, to train me on how to do my job and how to answer the phone! This new manager has only worked here for one month but he is going to tell me how to do the job I have worked so hard at for four months! I feel very angry and upset over this and feel as though I have been misunderstood and unappreciated. What can I do about this situation?
Signed, Feeling Misunderstood
Dear Feeling Misunderstood:
I rewrote portions of your question to conceal your employment and also to condense it down a bit. However, I think I kept your essential frustration over not being appreciated for the hard work you have done. I can also understand how hurtful it is to be judged based on only one call after months of handling stressful calls without any training or assistance. So, I can see how you feel misunderstood and unappreciated! Consider these ideas for handling this situation:
1. You have no choice but to accept the training and advice by the new manager. However, you may find the training to be a very good thing. The manager may not have done your work but that isn’t necessary for him to know how the new Director wants phone calls to be handled. For the first time you will receive guidance you should have received five months ago. There is always room to grow and learn, so you may find a few techniques or ideas for making your work less stressful and more effective.Try to take the approach that it’s a good thing that someone is showing an interest in what you do. One thing is for sure: The new manager will soon find out the challenges of your work and will probably report back to the new Director about it, which should make you look good.
2. Make sure you let the manager know about the extra work you have done. Show him the CV instructions you have developed and ask him if he has ideas for how to get better CVs from applicants and how to ensure that they bring their required paperwork. Work with him not against him, as a way to make your job easier and less stressful.Let him know about the requests for extra work that you receive and how upset people get when you say you can’t help. He may be sympathetic to that and try to help find a solution. He may want to show the new Director what he can do and that may help you!
3. You say you are kind and courteous. Show that to the manager who has been told to train you. He may not want to be doing the training and he may realize how you feel about it. So, you can help make it better for both you by letting him know you are willing to get ideas from him.If it turns out that he isn’t a very friendly or nice person himself, you still will have to find a way to accept his training. In that case you may do better to just listen, ask questions, thank him for the answers and keep moving mentally and emotionally.
4. Keep in mind (as you probably do anyway) that the people who are demanding jobs from you may feel desperate and even more stressed than you are. They are angry because they are afraid they won’t have work. They are angry about not having work and about having to follow a bunch of requirements they don’t understand. They may be embarrassed that they don’t know how to write a CV and a younger person is giving them instructions about it. That doesn’t excuse their rudeness, but it may at least allow you to keep it from seeming personally directed at you.
5. This is probably not the last job you will have. It probably is one of your first jobs and you have a long career ahead of you. Use this as a way to train in a tough situation. Think of the experience you’ll be able to claim on future CVs! Come to work fresh and treat each caller as the first one of the day, so frustrations don’t build up. Then, go home and enjoy your life and friends. As a final thought: The reality is that if you want to keep your job you will need to comply with the guidance of the new manager and your new Director. But, if you can do that and show a good attitude you could develop a great reputation there with the new team. Try to view this as an opportunity not a punishment. Show the kind of person you really are and let the new people learn what a valuable resource you can be for them.Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.
Tina Lewis Rowe