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I am bored, overqualified, underpaid…

Dear Office-Politics,

I read this article Entry-level office aide is poisoning our office, with interest as I find myself somewhat ‘on the other side’. While I am not being as disruptive as the girl described, her story and attitudes ring a slight bell.

I too, would be looked down upon by a bunch of stuffy academics. I do not have a university degree. I have worked in fast paced environments, whereas they are used to the luxury of time to think things over.

I have just gone from 15 years of service industry jobs, to an office job, yes, at an entry level, and yes, I am over qualified for it. They may not think it takes much to manage a group of 20 restaurant staff, or a small hotel, but it is certainly a greater challenge than putting phone calls through, and filing invoices. I get.things.done.

They have meetings. And more meetings. Each week we have a meeting which includes all staff, and they bring up the same things they are working on as last week. I have finished that thing and have a new project or account or client by then.

They are supremely happy with my ‘fast work’ but I am increasingly frustrated with the time it takes anyone else to make a single decision. So yes, I have quietly said to one or two people that I am bored, overqualified, underpaid, and that the management has no idea of what it is doing.

Why shouldn’t I? It is only the truth.

By the way, thank you for this site, it has been really useful for an office newbie such as myself. (I am only doing this job because it is in an area I want to eventually be in management in) Also, I think it is called “office” politics for a reason.

In all my years of customer service jobs, I have never seen the kind of underhanded behind-the-back bitchiness that I have seen in my first two months of office life. My theory is that people almost need to have someone to be opposed to. In the service industry that is always, without fail, the customer. (Or one particular customer, or customers. ie:You have a nightmare guest, you whine about it at the after work glass of wine, it’s over.) The key thing is that you remain united with the people you work with.




dr. rick brandon
dr. marty seldman

Dear Other-side,

Although your letter offers comments and doesn’t ask for advice, some of your statements about your own behaviors and attitudes caused us concern. In other words, even though you didn’t ask for advice we are going to give you some. Normally we caution against doling out unsolicited advice but we felt some of the actions you described could undermine your own goals.

You state that your goal is to get into management in the area you are now in. In addition to the experience, intelligence and speed you might bring to that role we suggest adding the savvy skill of Verbal Discipline. A lack of Verbal Discipline could very easily be the thing that hurts your chances of advancement.

Since you seem like you value honesty (your comment “It is only the truth”) it is important to point out that verbal discipline is not dishonesty, it is just not saying everything you think. Why would it sometimes be smart and helpful to not express all your feelings or give your point of view?

Let’s look at two comments you said you made to others at the office:

    i. You are bored, overqualified and underpaid
    ii. The management doesn’t know what they are doing

In an office setting it is hard to see how these comments help you and it is very easy to see how they could hurt you. High risk/no reward is a poor investment strategy or career strategy.

Let’s look at how these comments could hurt you:

    1) Some of your peers may resent your comments

    2) You are contributing to a perception that you are arrogant or feel superior to others

    3) When management learns of your comments you run the risk of “wounding the king.” Now you have potentially punctured some egos who have the power to hurt your career. What are the chances that management will react this way “I always thought I was a decent manager until you were able to point out my deficiencies. Thanks for the feedback.”

So venting your feelings and judgments of others may feel good at the moment but we advise you to think about the impact. The key mental shift is to not label this type of verbal discipline as dishonest or deceptive. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.


Rick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. Co-authors,
Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success

cover of Survival of the SavvyRick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. are Co-authors, Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success. Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America’s most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.

  1. One Answer to “I am bored, overqualified, underpaid…”

  2. I hope to be a “newbie” myself at an age when my fellow former teachers are retiring–at 63, I will begin an office admin preceptorship at a local elementary school. I find “verbal discipline” very practical, especially when I am excited about something, want to share it, but know that verbal restraint is best. Thanks for the wise advice!

    By Lynda Strutt on Apr 10, 2007

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