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Are You the Reason Your Job Sucks? Here’s How to Know

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Joanne Poh

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It can be all too tempting to blame your boss, otherwise known as Satan, for all the troubles you’re facing at your hellhole of a job. But if you’ve hopped from one job to another, only to end up feeling the same passionate loathing for each of them, we hate to break it to you, but YOU might be the problem.

If you’re hanging your head in despair and resigning yourself to a lifetime of drudgery at work, know that this is a problem that’s fixable. Here are three reasons you might be making your own life miserable.

 

1. A bad attitude

You’ve probably noticed the downward spiral your own attitude towards work has taken. In the first few months at work, most people are still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to be able to show up at the office looking reasonably enthusiastic.

But as the months and years drag by, you develop an intense dislike for the voice of the loud coworker in the next cubicle who’s always talking loudly about her kids, or start feeling a twinge of annoyance whenever your boss tells you to do something. Most of these reactions aren’t triggered by the actual events of the moment but rather by responses that have started to become automatic.

Here’s a true story. I once had a boss who was so fierce I practically had a stroke every time she asked to see me. A good day at work was when I didn’t have to see her face. One day in December I received a call on my office phone summoning me to her office. The next three minutes of my life were ruined as I cursed my job, my boss and my life to the high heavens. I walked into her office expecting a guillotine to fall on my neck. Then she handed me a Christmas present.

I’m not saying you should accept cruelty or nastiness at the office. But many times, we let a few unpleasant experiences completely derail us and ruin every other day on the job.

In the US, people would probably suggest going to therapy, but Singapore is expensive, and I also know nobody is going to do that.

Changing your attitude at work (and to life, actually) isn’t just about reading a few self-help books.

Whatever you choose to do, recognising that your own attitude is one of the reasons you hate your job is the first step towards exploring solutions that work for you. Different people will recommend different methods. Some swear by meditation, some turn to religion, while others devise lifehacks to help them deal.

 

2. Office politics

Being an employee is a lot harder than it sounds. The difficulties of your actual job are just a small part of all the crap you have to deal with in a day. If you were given a chance to do the exact same job at home or in a location of your choosing, chances are you would start feeling a lot more motivated and engaged.

There’s a whole list of things you might hate about coming to work, none of which have anything to do with the actual work you’ve been hired to do.

Two of the most pernicious things at the office are politics and gossip. If you begin the day bitching about your boss and coworkers, you only have yourself to blame if you feel terrible at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, even if you refuse to play the game, you’re going to be affected by office politics simply by virtue of being present. I once worked in an office where employees ganged up against coworkers they disliked, even going to the extent of goading brand new employees into take sides.

If you work in a particularly poisonous environment, the best thing you can do is probably to remain friendly but detached. Even if you dislike a particular coworker, try to refrain from complaining about him too much or letting him fill your thoughts.

Also, it seems to me that relationships with colleagues based on common interests have a lot more longevity than those built on mutual hatred for a particular person. I’ve seen many a close coworker fade out of my life after one or both of us left the job and we realised we had nothing in common apart from distaste for our former workplace.

 

3. Poor boundaries

If you’re the kind of person who would feel guilty for saying no if someone asked you to fling yourself out of a window, I’m quite sure your coworkers and boss take full advantage of you right now. Jobs in Singapore already have a bad reputation for being sweatshops, so it’s up to you to establish the appropriate boundaries to ensure you’re not getting taken advantage of.

There’s a difference between being an employee who rises to the challenge and letting everyone walk all over you. Decide for yourself what kind of treatment you won’t accept as a matter of principle and then do not allow anyone to cross those boundaries.

One of my friends used to work for a law firm where she was routinely abused by a senior associate, who would hurl vulgarities at her and throw things on her desk. If she had gone home and cried herself to sleep every night she would probably be on suicide watch right now.

But she stood up for herself, warned him she would not accept such behaviour and brought a complaint to management when he continued. Although she has since left that office, having strong boundaries in place was her key to managing stress at the workplace.

Do you think you’re the reason you hate your job? Tell us why in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.