Being taken advantage of is a very common problem in the work place today. Of course there is no problem with being asked to go above and beyond your duties from time to time to meet the demands of a project or to help out your co-workers, but feeling used and unappreciated is absolutely toxic for anyone who is an employee.
Do you ever find yourself stuck and stressed out with work that is not your responsibility? Do you find yourself taking on too much because you do not know how to say no to people? Could it be that you are being taken advantage of?
No doubt we have all being there. It can be very difficult to let people down when they ask you for help. Perhaps you are a person who naturally likes to help people. However, it is also not healthy to allow yourself to be used by others or put yourself last in order to make others happy.
So, how can you stop being taken advantage of
Know yourself first
Know yourself and know your limits. Though it may not be easy to recognize your limits until you go beyond them, it’s important to establish how much you can take from other people without affecting your own plans and your health. The way to achieve this is by being honest with yourself, that is, have an honest assessment of what you are realistically capable of doing. Our mind and bodies have limitations. When you do this, you will be able to stop taking on what you cannot manage to do hence not allowing people to take advantage of you.
Set your Boundaries
Personal boundaries are one thing you should set at the very start of your work life to avoid being taken advantage of. It is about making yourself a priority and teaching your employers and co-workers what sort of treatment you will accept. An article on Career Contessa on setting healthy boundaries at work said. “By doing this, you will avoid a potential toxic work environment and you will be able to do your best work without burning out”. This will stop people from walking all over you or manipulating you into doing their work. It also stops people from getting too far into your personal space
Learn to Say No
Saying no especially in a work environment is easier said than done. For example, if you are seen as someone who is great at their job, some people might want to take of this. You can find yourself doing loads of favors for co-workers who asked you even though they could have probably done those things themselves.
The downside of this is that, even though you might be great at your job, the more you are seeing as “the doer” of everything around the office, the more you will keep on just being, “the doer”. You might project the image of being always available, going above and beyond to make everyone happy. If you keep doing work for your co-workers, you might end up as the “doormat” of the office, for lack of a better term. This will leave you no time for your own creativity and innovations hence there is a chance promotions might actually pass you by.
Therefore, you need to understand that you are allowed to say no. Remember, this doesn’t mean being cruel or insensitive. It simply means that you learn to communicate your boundaries and priorities.
A more sustainable way of helping your co-workers is to teach them how to do something on their own. Rather than coming to you to do their task for them all the time, teach them once or twice and let them go and do it on their own. This way, your co-workers will develop respect for you and they will know that they can’t just rely on you to do their work because you will have made it clear that you will not be bending over backwards for them.
You might find that you cannot afford to take on more work, but because your supervisor asks, and you do not want to be perceived as “lazy”, you end up agreeing to it anyway. Sometimes, this can happen as a result of you thinking that because you do your job well, you are the most relied on.
For example, if your boss keeps on piling more and more work on your desk that you cannot handle, it is the best time to speak up. You need to communicate and let him or her know that you do not mind doing the new assignments, however, you have other tasks pending which you need to execute properly in your best abilities. You can respectfully communicate how taking on more work will affect the other work that you already have negatively. You can further make suggestions of what you think can be done about the new tasks, whether it is to find someone to do it or to move the deadline in order to give yourself ample time to work. This will help your boss to plan out your assignments realistically and to set reasonable deadlines for you. It will also show him or her that you are good at prioritizing and are assertive about your priorities.
Being taken advantage of is not fun. It can take away from your self-esteem when you realize that you are not being appreciated. Therefore, take all the necessary steps to correct the situation so that you can enjoy your work life.