How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage of at Work

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If you are someone who is currently in a situation where you feel as though others are constantly taking advantage of you, or where you feel like a doormat sometimes and find yourself always putting yourself last in every situation, then I’m writing this piece for you.

I’m going to share with you my three tips on how to officially end this unhealthy way of living, so that you can become more confident and be in a situation where no one can take advantage of you any longer.

Being taken advantage of is a huge issue that you need to address, especially if it’s happening to you at work. For example, I once had a friend who was smart and capable, knew her stuff, had strong technical expertise, but at her company anytime there was an additional random assignment that needed to be done, her managers and even co-workers would simply flock to her and ask her to get it done. The thing about it was that she would do it. She would do it because she felt that they were all relying on her, and she kept hoping that her taking on all of these tasks for all these other people would eventually lead to further career growth and promotion opportunities for her. Guess what happened? Months went by, years went by, and promotions also went by. They came and went and they were never offered to her.

So why do you think that’s the case? The reason is that when you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, especially at work, it can create a certain image of who you are to the rest of your team, and to the rest of the company. You might be seen as someone who’s very good at her job and very good at doing the tasks, but you are simply just a doer after all. You’ll be seen as someone who would simply just do what you’re told to do, and that’s a huge downside to it.

Here are my three tips on how to overcome feeling taken advantage of by others at work.


Show them how to do it rather than doing it yourself

This first tip is so important because it is key. What you need to understand is that when you are in a position where you’re teaching others how to do something rather than just doing it for them, you are rewarded with respect. This is because what happens is when you can empower others, you are actually instructing them and giving them skills that they didn’t have before. Thus they’re able to respect you more. And on top of that, they know that they can’t just ask you to just do it for them. On the other hand, if someone asks you to do something because they don’t know how to do it and you just do it for them, then that same level of respect isn’t there because they feel that they’re at a higher level and that you’re just going to do what they ask you to do. If you become the advisor for them instead, then you are much more likely to be seen as someone who is respected and knowledgeable in the area of expertise that you have.


Communicate your boundaries and priorities

Tip number 2 is to communicate your boundaries and priorities. What happens a lot of the times is that you find yourself agreeing to take on other people’s work silently. You just give a simple head nod and all of a sudden you have ten more tasks that you didn’t have the day before. If this is you, it means you’re not speaking up or communicating enough. So if you find that your manager or boss is constantly giving you item after item after item to work on, instead of silently saying yes and taking it on, you are going to now communicate what your limits are. You can say something like, ‘Sure, I can do that for you, but just so you’re aware I’m also working on tasks A, B and C which you’ve asked me to complete. If I take on task D, it will conflict with my ability to complete task C on time. So what do you suggest I do about task C? Should I speak to someone else to get task C done or should we move the deadline for task C?’ This framework of answering to your boss and communicating your boundaries is extremely helpful, not just for you but for your boss and manager as well to understand what’s on your plate. You have to let others know that you’re being realistic. What’s going to happen most likely is that your boss or manager is going to respond with something like, ‘Okay, let’s come up with a plan on how you complete task A, B, C and D in the right timeframe.’ Or they’ll come up with an alternative plan to help you get things done.


Simply say ‘No’

Tip number three to not be taken advantage of by others at work is to simply say no. Typically, this only really applies for anyone who is not your direct manager or your manager’s manager. Basically anyone whom you are not reporting to, you have the opportunity to say no to when you get asked to do something that is outside of what you’re normally supposed to do. You need to evaluate for yourself whether it’s worth it for you to do that task. You have to be realistic and ask yourself if that task is going to benefit you. Is it going to help you achieve your goals or the goals of the team and the organization? Is it going to help you with your well being in some sense or your career? If it’s only benefiting the person that you are doing it for, and that person isn’t your direct boss or boss’s boss, then you really want to consider saying no in that case.


Let me mention here that I have nothing against being helpful to your co-workers and to people you work with, but if you are feeling being taken advantage of, it probably means that you have an overloaded plate. So these are just ways to get rid of unnecessary items on your plate.

Sana Uqaili

Sana Uqaili is a professional content creator and a strategic marketing adviser, who started off as a freelance copywriter and pass time blogger, and ended up offering her services as a full-fledged business in early 2019. Her ghostwriting contributions and digital marketing tactics have enhanced the Google rankings of various publications and corporate websites. Her passion for writing peaked in late 2019, when she started this site called Opinined. In 2020, she also started podcasting from her home during quarantine, and was able to gain great traction on her podcast channel during the global lockdown.

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