- Do you feel like some days the world thinks you’re wearing a door mat to work?
- Do people tell you how wonderful you are as they leave the office early on a Friday while you ‘just cover the phones’?
- Do you wish you had the courage to say No at least once a day?
Being nice is lovely and helps the world go round. Helping people out is a wonderful trait and to be encouraged. However, you also need to be nice to yourself.
This post is not about turning into one of the ‘un-nice’. It’s about having respect for yourself as well as for other people.
So next time you’re getting dressed for work make sure you don’t pick up that bristly old mat by the door and inadvertently wear it to work. Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, ‘I am as good as anyone else and I deserve to be treated respectfully’. It is not respectful when people do not value your time or your talents. That’s more likely to be exploitation, taking advantage of your good nature, however it is disguised.
Next time the door mat syndrome threatens to overwhelm you stop for a moment and ask yourself:
How does this situation make me feel? Answer yourself honestly. Are you feeling angry, annoyed, fearful, cowed? What stops you saying what you really mean? What makes you put everyone else’s needs and wants before your own?
Up until now you have been repressing these feelings and not letting people know how you feel. One way of looking at this is, you’re not actually showing them respect by allowing them to believe something about you that isn’t true.
And what is the impact on you of suppressing these feelings? Holding anger/frustration/fear deep within yourself takes its toll. So does letting it go in an uncontrolled way. It might feel good momentarily but after a while the guilt kicks in and you probbaly end up apologising.
What you need is a quick lesson in assertiveness. Not aggression, and definitely not passivity.
How Not To Be A Doormat
Listen politely (I mean really listen, not half an ear cocked while you mentally rehearse what you want to say). Listening is very respectful and people really love being listened to. It’s rare, good listening.
Once you’ve heard what they are asking, repeat it back to them. Be very careful that you don’t lapse into sarcasm, and watch your body language. If you’re feeling angry or anxious it’s likely to show, whatever comes out of your mouth. Just appropriately rephrase the question. Can I just check, are you asking me to stay late this evening?
Then remember how you are feeling. You are allowed to have feelings. You may reply:
Actually, I know I usually say yes to the Friday shift but I have been feeling a bit upset, to be honest, at being asked to do more than my fair share. I can’t stay late this Friday so can you please ask someone else?
Some would say don’t even put that ‘please’ in but I see no reason not to be polite. What you don’t want to do is take ownership of their problem so that somehow you end up trying to find someone to stay till close of business on Friday!
If you are usually a ‘say yes’ person they will be shocked. But you can only manage your own feelings, not theirs. They’ll probably try again but you must stay firm. When next Friday comes around be prepared to give the same response. Manage your own behaviour and they will change theirs, at least in relation to you. And you will feel so much better without that old mat on your back.
P.S. Check out RenewYou, my one day course for women available across the UK from specially selected trainers.
Photo by Ann Cutting c/o Oprah
Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Jane