They Hate Me!

Question:

I have been working at a place for three years and am really worried about it. I feel that people don’t like me and I know it is partly my fault, as I do not talk to them. I just keep my self to myself. I have trouble even saying hello and bye. It is not a place where we can chat freely, and I think that has made things a lot worse for me personally. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut. People are always making comments that they don’t like “her” etc. and other comments like, “It’s because no one wants her here” and “Wind her up” etc. I admit I am a person who is of a quiet and sensitive nature.

Signed,

Shy With No Bye Bye


Answer:

Dear Shy With No Bye Bye:

So you’re shy and unhappy because you’ve gotten the message that coworkers feel you don’t fit in. What do you want from The Workplace Doctors? Do you want to fit in? Do you want to do what will “wind you up?” Or do you want to be told your coworkers are to blame? We can’t advise your coworkers. We can only make suggestions for you. We can’t wind you up. We can’t give you a Get Up Pill. Shyness, or as you put it “quiet and sensitive nature”, probably are traits that have taken years to become habits, just as stuttering for some individuals is a speech pattern that starts in their youth and lasts into adulthood.

Might you have seen the recent film about Prince Alfred of England, who shied from taking the throne because he was afraid to speak? Yet he had to become king when his brother abdicated and he had to lead his country at a time of attack by Hitler. Fortunately the King had a speech therapist that helped him manage his stuttering. The king needed a personal counselor, and I suspect that you probably need one too. This is to suggest that your pattern of retreat from communication with those where you’ve worked for three years will continue unless and until you hurt enough that you will do what is necessary to change. Unless and or until you change, you will need to steel your self against put-downs or you will to find a job that allows you to work solo, so solo that even hellos and goodbyes aren’t expected. These suggestions, therefore, are not meant to prescribe a cure, but they are meant to be considered . . . 1. Get a life outside of work; something that is of a group nature, such as aerobics and is fun like Zumba. Group physical movement without speech should tell you that you can fit in, even if you don’t know the steps at first. You can learn. Not being perfect doesn’t matter so long as you move. You get “wound up” by such an activity. The same might be true for other activity such as a choir or walking club. When you feel lonely and lacking respect, you can know that the whole world isn’t that way. You will know that you work where you feel you don’t fit in, but you have a life outside of your workplace. 2. See the positive side of being “quiet and sensitive.” That is much more acceptable that being loud and insensitive. Also look in the mirror to examine the situations that might cause your coworkers to talk about you. What might you do to break out of the rut you say you are in? Possibly a coworker might tell you what you might do to fit in if you frankly confided that you are a quiet and sensitive. Do they really hate you? If so why? Are they the problem or are you? 3. Face up to the meaning of the comments you apparently have overheard about not being wanted. You’ve self-diagnosed those come from your reticence and seeming lack of spark. I don’t know if you could sparkle even if pixie dust were sprinkled on you, but there are a few things you might try, such as memorizing words that have helped others such as those in Exhortation to the Dawn, a beautiful thousand of year old poem from India that I learned decades ago. I’ll not quote it here, but here’s one of its may sites http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Look_to_This_Day.html

Or repeat to yourself excerpts from a much more recent poem Desiderata: You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 4. My point is this: if you fill your mind with beauty it can’t help but spill out in a smile and contentment. This does mean that all you need is self-esteem, but it can’t hurt if you couple that with being a bit more like those you see as being spark plugs, cheerleaders, and those can-doers who make it happen. 5. Suppose you owned your workplace, just suppose. What might you do to cut waste; wasted supplies, wasted energy, wasted duplication, and wasted time? Focus on cutting waste will get your mind off your self and you might even want to say a good word to someone who is doing that or you might start doing some things that you haven’t done for three years and surprise your coworkers.

These are only a few thoughts. My associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, frequently suggests action that can help an individual earn the right to be included. Click on her name on our home page and you’ll access here posts that inspire and talk straight about what one such as you might do. Finally, I’m listing the site with my advice to an individual who felt that her boss hated her. My Boss Hates Me http://workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=3631 If you read such a question as hers and others we post, you’ll realize that you are not alone. I know of others just like you who hate to go to work because they are treated badly. Feeling that others don’t want you there is not all your fault. We humans sometimes put down others for good reasons, but we also do that for bad reasons. Ideally, your supervisor would hold weekly meetings that engage all of you to think “team” and to put your heads together on what you need to do to make each others’ jobs easier and your customers happy.

As I said up front, I can’t give you a “Wind Up Pill.” However, I hope these thoughts prompt you to know that yours unhappiness is not impossible. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. How might my signature sentence apply to you and your work group?

William Gorden