27 Signs you May be a Doormat at Work

avoiding difficult peopleDo you suspect you are a doormat at work?

You are successful. People look to you to solve their problems. You love it! You’ve worked hard to get where you are. It’s not just what you do that’s great; it’s also the type of person you try to be, every day. Respectful. Concerned for others. Always looking for the combination of fairness with others and optimal results for the company.

Then, someone comes along who undermines you, makes confusing passive-aggressive comments or just plain avoids responsibility. They break promises and have all types of excuses.

When you give them corrective feedback, they become defensive and may bulldoze your efforts at a collaborative dialogue.

Caught off guard, you don’t know what to say and then after thinking about what you should have said, you think it’s too late and, maybe,  you should just let it go. The next time you see this person, you don’t even know what to say anymore. It feels safer to avoid them but you know you can’t do that forever.

This can happen to anyone. Suddenly, the confidence and success we have with others disappears and we can even obsess about these difficult exchanges.

Without the right information to teach us how to deal with people with different personality styles, some of us can begin to second guess ourselves and uncertainty creeps in.

Here are 27 signs that you may be acting like a doormat at work:

  1. Your need to be liked and approved of by superiors, colleagues and even subordinates stops you from taking action.
  2. Angry people make you freeze in your tracks.
  3. You are hoping that you will be recognized for your hard work without having to speak up.
  4. People and tasks, that simply don’t belong there, get on your schedule .
  5. You don’t know what to say when someone tells you “you’re too sensitive”.
  6. You hate delegating or outsourcing because you don’t want to have to give someone negative feedback.
  7. You are avoiding disruptive or unreasonable people instead of giving them corrective feedback.
  8. You assume that your ideas are not as valuable as others; so you stay silent.
  9. You let another take credit for your work or steal your idea without saying anything.
  10. You have been known to defend others, even in the face of strong evidence that they don’t deserve your loyalty.
  11. Instead of challenging it, you ignore or engage in gossip. ( To avoid becoming the next target.)
  12. When you are laughed at or demeaned and feel disrespected, even if you pretend to laugh it off, you assume you must have done something to deserve it.
  13. You take the saying “The customer is always right” too far even when you know it’s time to break up with them.
  14. You are terrified of making mistakes. (What will people think of me?)
  15. You give people too many second chances even if they are not competent, not a good fit for the culture, resist changes…
  16. People confide their personal problems or bad decisions to you all the time and you feel you should help them, to the point that it distracts you from your work.
  17. You feel responsible for another person’s bad mood and you walk on eggshells around them.
  18. You have trouble identifying and acknowledging how you feel about something, looking around to see if others are upset too in order to validate your feelings.
  19. You avoid having uncomfortable conversation unless you can guarantee what the outcome will be.
  20. When someone suggests you challenge another’s bad behaviour, you say “It’s OK. I’m used to it” or “Oh, that’s just their personality”.
  21. Having contained yourself around inappropriate treatment, you finally explode. Then, out of guilt, you try to make up for it while avoiding having an honest and open conversation about how you guys got there.
  22. Your self-care and home life suffers while you practice 911 management. (Putting out fires at work that shouldn’t belong to you.)
  23. Even though you have some authority or power, you feel like an imposter and suffer from low self-esteem.
  24. Work causes you to suffer from stress related ailments: migraines/headaches, ulcers, unhealthy weight gain/loss, digestive issues, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, high blood pressure…
  25. Someone suggests taking better care of yourself. You say “It’s nothing, it’s just stress”.
  26. You are more worried about “losing your cool” and you let yourself be taken advantage of. That’s Ok though because, after all, “nice people don’t get angry”, right?
  27. You look in the mirror and say to yourself: “never again!” And then you let it happen again.

confident leaderIn an attempt to please everyone, doormats end up pleasing nobody and not living up to our full potential.

Not knowing where to start, we sabotage our professional relationships and success. But knowing what to say can increase your confidence to ask for what you want and set healthy boundaries.

If this is you, how will it feel if nothing changes in 1 year, 5 years? How will that impact your professional and personal success?

With the right tools, leaders and their teams learn can take control of this all too common theme by learning simple skills. We should all strive to stop avoidance and conflict by engaging in courageous conversations and collaboration.

Will your organization be next?


2 thoughts on “27 Signs you May be a Doormat at Work

  1. Monique, you describe behaviours I have used in too many sutuations, for too many years. You call it ‘being a door mat’. I call it ‘being a people pleaser’. In assertiveness terms it is the ‘passive’ role. Regardless the label for this thorough list of 27, you have done a thorough job. I see at least two tendencies I will better focus on. Thank you for the awareness!

    • It’s my pleasure Patricia. I also call it people pleasing or codependent behavior. A rose by any other name…

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