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Work has become toxic but I am scared to get out

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I have a good paying job at a law firm, and have been working there almost 5 years.


The thing is no matter how hard I work, how much I educate myself, or how much unpaid overtime I put in - it is never enough.


My coworkers are very respectful and often come to me for advice or training.


My bosses, however think I am too dumb to wipe myself.


I am often penalized for other's mistakes, or non-errors.


If I receive a compliment for something, I am reminded that someone else's was better.


If I complete a large project completely correctly, they pretend to find error in my work where there is none. For example, I was read the riot act recently for typing a medical expert's name "wrong." "Jessica it takes one second to look at a report and make sure someone's make is spelled correctly. You're making me look like an idiot with all your spelling mistakes."


Yeah. I emailed him a report with her name on it, proving I was correct. I got no response. Later that day, he told a room full of my coworkers that I do nothing all day except go out for breaks...


Not to mention, we work longer than normal office hours, and are expected to me at our desks at all times. Last I checked, I have gained just under 120 lbs since I started this job. That's an extra person squeezing into my little chair. Needless to say, I have been single and sex-free for almost 3 years, as my appearance has basically rendered me un-datable.


I am getting so tired of the nonsense.. but I am scared to leave. At my last 3 long term jobs, it was the same story. I prove myself, I get good raises and overall respect, but there is always an automatic assumption that I am lazy and incompetent. It is as if employers love to keep knocking me down to keep me submissive and not feeling good enough to speak to them on their level.


Some might say "stick with the evil you know." Part of me wants to, because my last job literally put me in the hospital on suicide watch. Employers quite literally make me hate myself..


So how to I break this? How to I demand respect without coming across at an unpleasant person? How do I stand up for myself without being looked at as insubordinate?

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If it was just this one employer or one person...but..... The common denominator is you and namely that you teach people how to treat you and what you are teaching them isn't very good for you. How do you break this? Get counseling and coaching for yourself on how to do things differently. This isn't something anyone can teach you via self help or on an online board. It will actually be a long road for you in that you will have to not only learn how to, but power through learning how to interact and behave very differently from what feels comfortable to you until the new way of being becomes comfortable and feels right to you. Once you do that, you will find that these kinds of issues do not keep following you through life and your career.

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First things first. Don't take things from work to home. Once you leave work. Forget about work. It's you time... Plan a fun vacation. You deserve it.


Just do whatever they want during working hours and leave it at that. Who cares what they think. It's all about how you think..


Good luck.

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Gotta say DF's got a point with you being the common denominator here.


Four jobs in a row now wherein you're experiencing this sort of perceived mistreatment would fall under some extreme odds, even if you're the type who has a rough time asserting herself. Not necessarily doubting it, but this is a case I do feel may be above our pay grades and it'd be irresponsible for us to attempt to discern. Have you been actively pursuing any form of therapy since you were previously placed on suicide watch?

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automatic assumption that I am lazy and incompetent
i would ask them for feedback regularly and ask that they specify exactly where they want improved efficiency. make it measurable. do they want you to take x amount of cases more per month? do they want tasks such and such done daily? which tasks? where, precisely, is the lack of performance?


then keep a paper trail of everything you do, including others' work you've done, extra work you've done, when you did it, what amount of time you spent on it. also file their emails where they state you have made a mistake and add proof you corrected it on the spot/ there wasn't a mistake.


if multiple employers have complained about your inefficiency, it may be true, and you'll need to list specific areas for yourself where you need to do better to prevent this problem from recurring.

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...we work longer than normal office hours, and are expected to me at our desks at all times. Last I checked, I have gained just under 120 lbs since I started this job.


Key words here are 'we' and 'I'. You're not singled out as the only one working under harsh expectations, that's the 'we,' so I'd ask all of your coworkers who treat you respectfully how they've managed to work their desk jobs without gaining 120 pounds.


What kind of self care do you employ during non-work hours? Could you be working side by side with others who tolerate the same bosses but manage to roll with it without internalizing it?


Since you're not complaining about an overall hostile environment where coworkers try to sabotage you, but rather they respect you and learn from you, why not avail yourself of some equal learning from those who you admire most in how they manage criticism and long hours yet can thrive socially, physically and emotionally?


So how to I break this? How to I demand respect without coming across at an unpleasant person? How do I stand up for myself without being looked at as insubordinate?


There's a huge difference between 'demanding,' which is a temper tantrum and won't work for anyone, versus consistently assertive and proactive behavior that demonstrates competence and earns respect over time.


For instance, when you sent the report to prove the correct spelling of whutshername, did you send it without comment, or punch the point? Responding, "My goal would never be to make you look foolish, which is why I carefully copied the name from the attached report," spells out WHY you've sent the report and notes the snide comment made to you as an error. Period. End of discussion, without expectation that such a boss would concede to the error and apologize.


Watch your expectations and assumptions, as those are the stuff that eats your own stomach lining. Applying 'shoulds' to bosses who won't conform to your ideals with praise and demonstrations of valuing you is a cycle of misery that's self imposed--and unnecessary.


Write more if it helps, and head high.

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