For many years my career goal was to work in office administration. At the age of 45 I graduated with distinction and now have an Office Administration Certificate.
I am beginning to question my choice of careers. Every office I have worked in (I signed up with a temp agency to get experience) has been a challenge. Women have blamed me for things they did wrong, lied about things I did do and did not do, spoke to me like I am a child, blew every little mistake I made out of proportion while sweeping theirs under the rug, etc. Someone even sabotaged some of my work to make me look bad.
This is definitely not what I signed up for. I have to wonder if they feel threatened by my abilities. I learn very quickly and work hard at my job. I get a lot of compliments but seem to attract more negativity and backstabbing.
I am a kind-hearted person and would never dream of treating anyone the way I have been treated. Maybe that makes me more vulnerable to the kind of treatment that I am receiving. I don’t want to hide who I really am but if it takes that to be able to keep a job, I may have to.
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY FRANKE JAMES
Your name is accurate. Your letter is full of disillusionment. It sounds like you’re in the wrong place for you. Obviously there are good companies and bad companies in the world to work for. Your letter shows that you highly value working in an ethical environment where everyone is pulling together for the greater good — and not bickering over petty incidents. That is an admirable goal.
If you agree that this is your goal, then you should focus your job search on working at a company — and with people — that reflect your values. Clearly you aren’t in that job yet, and no amount of effort on your part will change the people you are working with.
Life is too short to put up with the nonsense you describe. Make a wish list today for the type of job you want to have. Is it mainly about the people? Or is it also about the purpose of the company?
Perhaps working in the non-profit or charitable sector would be a better fit for you, in that you would be striving to make a difference in the world (and could slough off some of the in-fighting that happens in all workplaces). Realize that office politics can occur anywhere, even when you’re in a company searching for medical breakthroughs, healing inner-city wounds, or fighting for the greater good.
Another option is to work in a smaller more entrepreneurial company. You’ll wear more hats, and work longer hours, but if you mesh with the owners, you will probably have more impact on how the company is run, and the tone of the office culture. Lastly, ask some friends who are happy in their work what they would recommend.
Keep searching and you’ll find a better fit — and you’ll be glad that you took action to improve your life.
Good luck. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Franke James, MFA
Editor & Founder, Office-Politics.com
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game
Editor’s note added in 2007: To open your mind to better career possibilities, read Dreamcrafting: The Art of Dreaming Big, the Science of Making It Happen
Publication note: This letter was originally published in 2003. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.
Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.