Most of Us Want to Be Liked
There are few people who seek out friction with others. Most of us, on some level, want others to feel comfortable around us, and if they don't, we look for ways to ease the tension. This isn't true of everyone, of course. We've all had colleagues who seem to relish opportunities to make others squirm in discomfort; we've also worked with people who distance themselves from the group to the point where it becomes almost uncomfortable for everyone else.
Have you ever thought "Why is it that no one at work likes me?" How do you know if you're liked at work? You may feel like everything's fine, but it may be that your colleagues and/or supervisors have been sending you messages that you haven't been reading. You'll never please everyone all the time, but if you're wondering if you're generally liked on the job, here are ten straight-forward ways to find out.
1. If You're Being Left Out of the Loop
Regardless of what you've been told, no one lost your e-mail, and it didn't go directly into the "junk" folder by mistake. Your phone message wasn't too muffled to make out, and the end wasn't cut off by the machine. No, you need to face it. You're not getting e-mails and phone calls returned because someone or everyone doesn't like you. For whatever reason, you're being avoided, and messages are an easy means to avoidance. Unlike face time, any form of message can be readily disregarded when the sender is disliked.
2. If Items From Your Desk Are Missing
How often do items from your desk or cubicle area go missing? A lot? I'm not suggesting that your colleagues are purposely ripping you off (although that happens, too). Rather, I'm suggesting that anyone walking by your desk or in its vicinity sees it as a supply station. If you were a warm, genuinely-liked person, your peers wouldn't constantly take your things with little regard for your needs or feelings. All those missing paper clips, rubber bands, and sticks of gum are indications that either you work with a bunch of selfish jerks or that you're the jerk. It's up to you to figure out which it is.
3. If You Never Get Preferential Treatment
Have you ever seen someone walk in the copy room to make a few copies, and it seems like others bend over backwards to let them cut the line? Does anyone ever offer to let you cut the line? Does anyone ever offer to cut short a lengthy copy job, so that you can sneak in a quick 10 copies? If not, you need to think about what that could mean. Most well-liked employees get some amount of preferential treatment on the Xerox. Waiting in a long line every time doesn't mean you're a terrible person; it could, however, mean that you're not embraced yet or others just don't feel like they know you all that well. I can tell you, from years of making copies, that etiquette usually involves making allowances for others. When it comes to a miserable peer, however, all bets are off.
4. If Conversations Stop When You Arrive
There's an old joke about conversations stopping when someone walks into a room. The funniest part of this story is that its true. Pay close attention to this one. Do you often come upon unusually quiet groups of colleagues? How about silent groups of colleagues in social settings (lunch room,etc.)? You need to start paying attention. Groups of people are rarely silent, unless they're under strict working conditions. If you consistently come upon quiet groups of your colleagues, it's altogether possible that you're the reason. This may be an old routine, but it's true. No one wants to risk drawing a jerk into a fun conversation. Most people will admit they've done this at one time or another.
5. If Nobody Knows You, Really
Does everyone at your place of work seem surprisingly out of touch with what's going on with the latest celebrity scandal or the newest reality television show? Do you feel like no one ever gets your musical reference or your film quote out of context? This is a sure sign they don't like you. Assuming you don't work solely with the elderly, your colleagues get your jokes and mentions of the hottest sitcom. They just don't want to talk about it with you. If they admit they also like the show you watched last night, they're worried that you'll drone on endlessly about your opinions and analysis. Your coworkers are telling you they don't like you by not telling you anything at all.
6. If No One Ever Has Change
Do you ever go to the vending machine (that happens to stand near some tables in the lounge or the edge of the cafeteria seating area), find that it's only taking correct change, and you're left standing there, holding your dollar? Have you ever asked your colleagues if anyone has change for a dollar? Have they ever had change? Ever?
Once in a blue moon, someone must have some change. It simply can't be that no one you work with ever carries any coins around at any point in time. At the very least, do your peers feign an effort to look in their purses and feel their pockets for change when you ask? When someone is liked, they automatically earn this amount of minimal effort. If you're not at least getting the fake pocket pat, you're not held in high esteem.
7. If Conversations Go Nowhere
People who are looking to disengage from conversations use certain lines of dialogue regularly. Hearing a few of these is normal for everyone (after all, you are at work), but if you're hearing these type of responses on a consistent basis, then people don't want to talk to you. Start really listening to what others are trying to tell you. These are common conversation stoppers. They grow more powerful when accompanied by physical movement away from you, so watch for footsteps, too.
* "Well, you know how it goes."/"That's the way it goes."
* "We've all been there before."
* "I hear ya."
* "I see what you're saying."
* "Well, you never know."
* "What are ya gonna do?"
* "Sounds good."
* "Well, only ___ more days to go." (indicating days of the week)
* "Sounds about right."
* "Same $%^#, different day."
* "Those are the breaks."
* "That's too bad." (No, this isn't real concern.)
* "Well, better luck next time."
* Any mention of the world turning or being unpredictable.
* Any mention of the individual day of the week.
* Any mention of a retired colleague.
* Nodding, with no verbal response.
8. If You're Always Given the Lousiest Jobs
This might seem like an obvious one, but how often are you chosen for special or unusual events? How often are you picked to be on a hiring committee? Are you chosen to attend that awesome conference in New York? Are you told in advance about a surprise party for Jeff? A baby gift for Laura?
Does it feel like office parties, excursions, games, and jokes are shared by others, and somehow you keep missing the news? The reality is that supervisors choose employees they personally like to go to cool locations and enjoy the perks of the job. Colleagues include friends when it comes to important or social news. If you feel out of the loop, it's because you're either new or you're disliked by someone.
9. If You're Sitting With the Employees Nobody Likes
Do you often find yourself eating lunch or conversing with people you hate? Do you regularly share watercooler moments with people you'd rather never see again? This is a backwards way of looking at your own likability, but there are three possible reasons why you share so much time with loathsome individuals. The first possibility is the most unlikely: everyone you work with is awful. The second possibility is more likely: you've been excluded from the cool clique. The third possibility is most likely: everyone seems awful because you're awful. You're the unlikable one, not them. The world is full of difficult people, to be sure, but one thing that's always been true is that everyone seems terrible to a terrible person. Your own dislike of others is a sign that you're disliked.
10. If Work Leaves You With a Negative Feelings
The last sure sign that no one at work likes you doesn't take place at work at all. It takes place inside you: at home, at the store, at the dentist's office. How do you feel about your day when you wake up in the morning? Do you dread the drive to work? Are you having fits Sunday night about going back to work the next morning? Do you drag yourself from your bed to your desk each and every work day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you know some people at work don't like you. Heck, you don't even like yourself. Would you want to work all week long next to someone who is that negative? It would be like a punishment to have to collaborate on projects with a colleague who openly hates his job, wouldn't it? To have to eat lunch at the same table as someone who complains endlessly about politicians, taxes, supervisors, and deadlines?
If you go to work everyday feeling like this, you really don't need to be on the look-out for the other nine signs, do you?