Agony Aunt: I am soft-spoken and this works against me at the workplace

Hi, I am a post-graduate and working with a company since the past 4 years. I love my job and the work environment is also quite amicable. When I joined this company, I was still studying and my starting salary was very less. I continued working diligently (often working overtime) even at that meagre pay. I had a word with my boss who said that this being my first job and my first year, I was being paid less. I continued working with the hope that next year it will increase substantially. However, it’s been 4 years now and each year my pay hike is barely anything. I feel like I am not being paid my worth and have spoken to my boss about it as well, but that has not led to any change. How can I change this without leaving my job?

Ans: The dissatisfaction you are experiencing with respect to the pay is transcending into a source of stress and worry to certain degree. Looking at better options which might involve shifting job wouldn’t be a bad choice if things have to be changed but the existing environment isn’t allowing you to do so. Despite repeated efforts your boss hasn’t been able to fulfil your request. Rather than putting your efforts and at times extra efforts (overtime) in a place where there is lack of appreciation and recognition, finding an environment for yourself who might provide you with the same is essential. Change could be daunting at times, however a lot depends on your willingness as well towards accepting that change.

Corrupt conversation

Hello, I’m working as a teacher in reputed coaching classes for higher secondary school students. The problem I am facing is regarding my colleagues. They are extremely competitive and aggressive in their approach towards the job. Each day, we as teachers go to our respective classes for our lectures and after completing them, we gather in the staff area for the break. The break is about half an hour during which time, my colleagues always talk about each other’s pay, the holidays that we take, number of lectures and timings we have and somehow try and get as much information possible and subsequently use that to outwit each other. I find this very stressful and have been a target for this twice already. But, I’m feeling quite stuck, because if I do not communicate with them during the breaks, then they might feel that I am avoiding or being rude to them. What do you suggest I do?

Ans: I understand your conflict here with respect to being friendly with your colleagues and at the same time not completely convinced with their outlook towards each other. Firstly, there isn’t a hard and fast rule to adhere to the conversations that others are having. Secondly, you can always bring in a new topic to discuss so that you are less likely to participate in conversations that don’t interest you. Often people succumb to social pressure and would opt not to raise their concerns regarding the issues, if you initiate this in a subtle way, you might encounter others around you who might also not be keen on such communication.

The setback of being soft-spoken

I am 30-years-old working in a firm since the past 7 years. My issue is that I am quite soft-spoken and often this works against me at the workplace as my juniors try to take advantage of my temperament and get away with things easily. I am quite firm when it comes to delegation of work, but I do not like to express anger towards others which stops me from getting things done on time. What do I do? My superiors have told me to toughen up and not let others walk all over me. I have tried that, but it doesn’t seem to work and no one takes me seriously.

 Ans: Assertiveness is a skill that works wonders in a lot of situations. There is a fine line between assertiveness and being rude towards others. You can delegate well and the next step to delegation is having a timely check on the progress. You may not have to use aggressive ways to keep a check on them but by being consistent in your discipline pattern. Having a discussion with your juniors from the start of the work regarding your expectations from them could set in motion the idea that though you aren’t going to be overbearing but also can’t be taken for granted. Using raised voice, abusing, or humiliating others aren’t the only ways in which you can create an authority. Approaching your juniors with a more inclusive manner often works.

Agony Aunt: I am soft-spoken and this works against me at the workplace

Workplace with worse management 

I am working in an advertising firm. This is my second job and I made the switch 4 months ago as the pressures of work at my previous workplace were too much for me to handle. However, once I joined here, only 2 months into the firm I realised that the work culture is worse than my previous job. There is no fixed timing, the systems aren’t in place and people around you are always busy. I sometimes skip meals as there is no proper lunch break and at times I work till post midnight as suddenly too much workload comes in a single day. I am not sure of myself anymore as I feel that maybe this field is like this and I may not be cut out for it. But then, what do I do if not this, since I have studied and earned my degrees in advertising. I love the work, but not the pace and the pressures. I am too stressed. Please help.

Ans: Evaluate the gap between the efforts you’re willing to put in for your job as opposed to the requirement of the job in order to understand whether we’re dealing with major discrepancies. There is an insight towards aspects of job that you don’t like thus use this knowledge to figure out whether there can be anything done in particular to bring about a change for your benefit. It is important to keep aside your comparisons with others at bay and accommodate your requirements in order to experience less stress in the work environment. It’s alright to not be a perfect fit in a given new environment but working towards striking a healthy balance.

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