You have bad luck. You keep getting fired, you never get the good projects, or you have really warped coworkers. Or maybe–just maybe–it's not them, it's you. Here are 5 ways to tell if you're the problem.
You have had multiple micro-managing bosses.
We all know that micro-managing bosses exist. But, if you've had two or three in a row, there's a real possibility that they aren't so much micro-managers as they are managers who recognize that you need to be micro-managed. Some employees don't know how to get from step A to Step E without a manager spelling how exactly how to do B, C, and D.
Some employees are sloppy with their work. Formatting is unprofessional. Typos. Important questions are left unanswered.
Take a close look at what kind of things your manager is saying to you. Instead of bristling under the "micro-managing" make an effort to fix those problems before your manager appears. You may find that as you are more careful and thorough in your work, your manager backs off.
You Get Punished For Behavior Your Coworkers Get Away With
If you show up for work 15 minutes late, the boss reams you out, but if your coworker gets in 20 minutes later than you do, no one says anything to her. Sometimes that's an example of managers playing favorites, but sometimes it's an example that the employee is clueless as to the effects of her actions.
If your job is to answer phones, or you play a critical role in a group project, it matters when you show up at the office. If, on the other hand, you work independently, have few meetings, and consistently get your work done before the deadline, your manager is less likely to care when you show up.
If your manager is punishing you for behavior that your coworkers do as well, it's highly likely that he's attacking this behavior because you're doing something else wrong, like missing deadlines, holding up other people's work, or ignoring customers. Check and see what problems are caused by your mistakes.
Your Coworkers Never Want to Eat Lunch with You
Yes, the office can sometimes have "mean girls" who will pick on people and purposely exclude them. But, if it's not just the "cool" people that are not inviting you, but that no one is, and furthermore, when you invite people to go with you, there is hesitance or just flat out nos, then you might be the problem.
- Do you have a bad sense of timing? When everyone else is heads down on a major project, are you the "hey let's go to lunch"? person.
- Are you a restaurant complainer? If you're the type that sends your meal back three times because something is wrong with it, other people don't want to go out with you.
- Do you "order expensive" and then split the check evenly? Do you order steak, wine and dessert while your coworkers order sandwiches and soda and then you say, "Hey, let's just divide the bill evenly. It's easier." Yes, it's easier to exclude you for your tacky behavior.
- Are you a whiner? Yes, misery loves company and coworkers frequently complain to each other at work, but the topics are generally limited to topics of shared misery–the bad boss, the crazy deadlines, etc. If you're talking about your loser boyfriend/girlfriend (dump him/her, or get over it, sweetheart), your crushing debt in the same breath as you brag about your new motorcycle, or tell your gruesome childbirth stories to your not similarly enthralled coworkers, then you're the problem here.
- Are you a bit gross? Do you chew with your mouth open? Forget to use your napkin? Pack lunches that are excessively smelly?
You Had Multiple Run Ins With Different Racists/Sexists/Ageists
We all know that these people exist, but it's not ever-present. If you're constantly encountering people who are treating you poorly because of your race, gender, age, or other characteristic, it may well be that you're perceiving something that isn't there.
Sometimes people are jerks. Sometimes you're getting "picked on" because you're a low performer. Sometimes people mean no offense when they say things.
It's a better idea to assume that people aren't being racist/sexist/whateverist, but are rather acting in good faith. Try to assume this going into your relationships with other people. If your manager corrects you, honestly evaluate if you need correcting before jumping to the conclusion that you're being singled out because you're not 24 and beautiful.
If someone says something that you find offensive, gently correct them. Don't assume that because you think the statement is racist that the speaker thinks it's racist.
If your boss or coworker truly is an "ist" giving them the benefit of the doubt won't cause you any harm and it will become obvious later on that they are the true problem.
Everyone You Work With Is Really Stupid
Your boss is an idiot. His boss is an idiot. Your coworkers are dumb as rocks. And, we won't even talk about the completely incompetent HR department.
Now, there's a really good chance that you'll work with one or two people who are dumber than a box of hair. But, if everyone is, you may need to rethink your definition of stupid. Are you defining these people as incompetent because they disagree with you? It may well be that they just disagree with you.
Are you defining them as not so bright because they don't understand what you are saying? Is it possible that you are not a good communicator? Is it possible that you don't understand what they are saying, and not the other way around?
Whenever there is a problem at work, you need to look at the possibility that the world isn't out to get you–that you just may be the person who needs to change.
Thanks to Suzanne Lucas / BNet / CBS Interactive