Women working with a man on the computer

What to do when your coworkers walk all over you

ConfidencePeople Pleasing

Your coworkers are nice enough. But you can’t help but think they tend to walk all over you. It seems that whenever there is a task that no one else wants to do…your name gets brought up and all the sudden it’s another thing added to your to-do list. It’s not that you don’t want to help, sure, you’re all about creating that productive team atmosphere. It’s just that it seems like you’re the only one taking on that mindset, and all others are just dumping on you.

What do you do when you feel like you’re the dumping grounds for all the work no one else wants to do?

The first step is to take some ownership for the situation you’re in.

And I am not saying blaming yourself for what’s happened here or berating yourself for letting things get so out of hand that everyone seems to see you as the doormat on which to place all the crap they don’t want to deal with. But what I am saying is thinking about the part you’ve played in the situation.

Were there opportunities you could have said no, but didn’t? Did you have a chance to ask for help or support, and yet, may have been too worried about how your coworkers could have reacted that you just kept your head down and drudged forward instead?

Identifying places in which you see the part you played will help you to identify your points of influence for how to create different results for yourself moving forward.

Next, choose how you want to respond moving forward.

Now that you know your own part in creating your current situation, you can decide how to respond moving forward. You can either decide not to change anything and let things continue as they have been – or to do something about it. Now, it’s easy to say you want change, but much harder to actually implement. Because that will likely mean saying or doing things that you may perceive others won’t like. And I’ll bet that the last thing you want to do is compromise others’ opinion of you – which is probably part of what got you in your current predicament in the first place.

But you need to consider that by putting the team first, your putting your own needs second. There may be times when you actively make this decision – and you like your reason for it. And that’s okay. But the problem occurs when this becomes a habit – and through this happening over and over – you’re telling yourself that your needs aren’t important. And as soon as that belief comes into existence, your brain responds accordingly – agreeing to all the things that others need at the sake of your own, because you’ve told yourself that you don’t matter.

You need to choose if you want to continue thinking and responding in this way. And you need to like your reason for your decision. Meaning don’t just choose to keep things as they are because it feels safer, easier, or less burdensome. No – make a decision because it’s truly what you want – and not out of trying to avoid a difficult situation.

Once you know how you want to respond moving forward…

Ask yourself, what would I need to feel to be able to take those actions?

This step is key. Because everything we do is driven by an emotion – either to move towards something good, or to move away from something scary or painful. If you can identify the emotion that would lead you to take the actions you want to take, you’ll be more likely to act on them.

Is it confidence to speak up? Is it feeling accepted so that you can say no even if your coworker will be upset? Is it self compassion so that you can finally put your needs ahead of the team for once? Once you know that feeling – determine what thought would help you to generate that feeling, because that will help you to be able to conjure and maintain that feeling so that you can take action from it.

And finally…

Expect that when it comes time to taking action, your brain will freak out.

This is normal. Because for so long you’ve been the one that people dumped their work on, and you’ve maybe even thought of – labeled – yourself that way. So as soon as you start taking action that contradicts this, your brain will think that things are going terrible wrong because that is not what you’ve done. It may tell you that you’re crazy or being foolish – that you’re being over dramatic and should just leave things the way you are. It may tell you dramatic stories about what will happen if you do put your foot down and start pushing back more at work. It’s all normal. And none of it means that you need to stop.

Instead, acknowledge that you hear your brain – it is frightened, and let that be okay. Let it be okay to be fearful, and know this doesn’t mean you must stop or not take action. Because you can survive whatever negative emotion comes your way. And it’s worth it – because you made a conscious choice to change how you – and others – are defining you. That means there may be some disruption from your brain (and potentially your coworkers) along the way. But as long as you remember your reason for taking action – and you like that reason and know it’s worth it – you can continue forward. Regardless of how hard it may feel.