What do you do when a person’s behavior makes you feel taken for granted, controlled or undervalued in a personal or professional relationship? Feeling undervalued can be extremely frustrating and demotivating, especially in workplaces when you want your efforts to be recognized and rewarded. When your efforts go unnoticed, ignored and unappreciated, you feel small, disrespected or undervalued. This can lead to desperation and stress that makes you feel helpless. There are many such situations we come across in life where people take us for granted whether it is with your partner, friends, colleagues at work or relationships with other loved ones. This is one of the most common interpersonal issue that arises when people overstep our personal boundaries. But what can be done if you find that in spite of all your efforts, you are still used and devalued. How can you highlight your achievements? Who should you talk to about feeling unappreciated? Or Is it also because of you that your efforts are being overlooked?
Are you letting others to take you for granted?
Sometimes the reasons for this can be originating from some of your own actions like overcommitting, or lack of assertiveness or proper communication. Wrong perception of your self-worth can also be the reason of being undervalued. If you have grown up believing that your self-worth comes from giving to others and in a way, you crave recognition and praise from others. You get into a habit of self-sacrificing or manipulating others to feel better about yourself. If you believe that your worth only comes from others and is not intrinsic to who you are, you might feel like you are being taken for granted without that recognition. On an unconscious level, you believe that you deserve to be taken for granted because you aren’t worthy and on a conscious level you realize that you are being unappreciated. This tends to keep you stuck in a confusing cycle of being undervalued or not recognised. Here are some signs that you are letting others take you for granted.
• Failure to speak up when you are treated badly.
• Giving away too much of your time or over-committing.
• You agree with a person when you actually feel like disagreeing.
• You say ‘yes’ to a person when you want to say ‘no’
• You feel guilty dedicating time for yourself.
• You make too many grand sacrifices for others at your own expense.
• You constantly feel like the victim.
• You feel like you have to earn respect by being nice to others or you are a people-pleaser.
• You feel responsible for others’ unhappiness.
• You are not focused on your needs.
• You attract people who try to control or dominate you.
However, even if you open up and are still met with indifference or coercion, you can be sure that the person doesn’t really care about you and is taking you for granted.
Are others taking you for granted?
Sometimes, others take credit for what you do. Such behaviors communicate a sense of entitlement from the person that’s benefiting from the relationship. When others are unwilling to balance favors or reciprocate or when no thanks are given if you help or do something for someone is an indicator that they do not take your feelings into account. An unbalanced personal relationship can lead to make you feel unworthy. Stress and self-doubt creep in when others operate from such sense of entitlement and from lack of empathy. Similarly, if people in work environment are not demonstrating appreciation, it undermines your strength of your commitment. So, how can you tell if you are being taken for granted at work?
• You don’t receive your due credit or someone else takes credit for what you do.
• Exclusion from opportunities or you don’t get paid fairly.
• If people aren’t able to deliver common courtesies or take time to say “well done.”
• Your ideas are not heard or appreciated.
• You don’t have access to enough resources or opportunities for growth.
• You don’t receive valuable feedback.
• You aren’t trusted to do your job or being micromanaged all the time.
How being undervalued affects your productivity
“Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up.” We all have a basic human need to be appreciated for our effort. Genuine appreciation or valuing our efforts makes us feel safe and frees us to do our best work. On the contrary, when your value feels at risk either in the form of taken for granted or unappreciated or undervalued, worry becomes preoccupying which drains your energy leading to negativity and low morale. So, I’m a work environment, if your contributions are overlooked or when your values are undermined, it affects your motivation and productivity. And even if you are productive, you are probably not going to be considered for promotions or opportunities to advance professionally in future. This makes you get stuck in toxic cycle of lack of appreciation where you constantly struggle to prove yourself and creates friction in the workplace.
How to stop being taken for granted
Constant undervaluing of your quality work impacts your future productivity and causes physical harm in the form of stress and anxiety. So, it has to be dealt effectively and you can do so by identifying where you need to reflect on how to identify if you are feeling undervalued in the first place. there are really no quick fixes for this problem. You will need to take active steps that will create a solid platform for your personality and image to take control of yourself. Here are steps that you can take and learn how to stop being taken for granted.
Know your inner worth.
The only way to stop being taken for granted is to realise your self-worth. When your sense of self-worth gets defined by someone else’s feelings, you will be on a downward spiral. The measure of gratitude shown by someone else should not determine the value of what you do. The work you do must have intrinsic value based on who you are, about your values and what you believe in. Focus on positive feedback to increase your ability to intrinsically motivate yourself rather than waiting for outside validation. Be confident in the things you do, not because you do them well, but because you express who you are by doing so. It is important to remember that if we don’t value ourselves first, we can’t expect others to value us.
Set clear personal boundaries
Without strong personal boundaries, you run the risk of confusing your needs and wants with others which leads to toxic one-sided relationship. When you fail to clearly express your needs to others, they become unaware that they are taking you for granted. Voice your needs to make them clear of your personal boundaries and where they are undervaluing your work. If you feel that you are always giving and your efforts are being taken for granted, it might be time to create fresh boundaries to clearly distinguish who you are and what you need from others. Understand that you are not less valuable or worthy than others. Your needs are equally important. Practice assertiveness and learn to say no to non-essential things. Don’t try to please others and let go of the habit of committing to everything and everyone. Let go of toxic friendships and relationships if you feel you are being controlled, manipulated or undervalued and make sure people understand and see what you do. Respect your feelings and needs. When you start to respect yourself, others will notice and follow suit.
Communicate your needs.
Engage in a conversation on your performance with the person related when you notice you are being taken for granted. Instead of saying ‘I want more appreciation,’ you can talk about where your strengths lie and where you need to improve. Many times, others in the relationship or in your workplace might not be even aware that they were neglecting to appreciate you. So, if you think you deserve the due recognition for your hard work, clearly communicate. If your ideas are not well received, ask how you could improve. Learn to say “no” sometimes. Before you respond, ask yourself, ’will I feel resentful about this later if I say ‘yes’? if the answer is ‘yes’, then it is better to communicate it to the other person. Sometimes in a personal relationship, you may not feel equal when there is a selfishness in the equation as it leaves you resentful and feel used. If it is a friendly relationship, it may be worthwhile to have conversation and share your feelings.
In workplaces, clearly communicating about how you are feeling undervalued and making them aware of your contributions may help them know how to meet your needs. Communicate with the person involved and indicate that there are times that you don’t feel your work is noticed and ask for proper feedback on your performance by mentioning that you are looking for ways to improve. Update others regularly on the projects you are working on or any new tasks you are tackling.
Sometimes it is very important to promote yourself and you should make your voice heard and your achievements seen in order not to be taken for granted. Give your opinions and take credit for your ideas and achievements. Help others by sharing your expertise. If you are feeling undervalued at work, then others in your team may be feeling the same way. Lead by example by being the person who recognizes others efforts. Share positive feedback you receive from others to show that you are valued by others and therefore should be valued by them. If you manage a team, it is important to talk about what your team does, what its goals and achievements are and ways you are striving to do better. Draw attention to your or team’s day-to-day effort. Look for ways to make your work more visible.
Appreciate and Praise others’ contributions. The easiest way to get appreciated is to give it, yet very few do it. Whenever you are collaborating, be vocal about sharing the credit. You don’t need to resort to undercut or one-up your colleague in order to make yourself get appreciated. Share your useful experience to collaborate, be inclusive and give credit to those who are involved in accomplishing a particular task. Offering compliments also improves the performance of your coworkers.
While being appreciated and valued for your work is good thing, but you can’t derive your motivation only from praise and gratitude. Intrinsic motivators are much more powerful. You can be intrinsically motivated when you find meaning in the work you do or driven by passion and not because of external validation. Take some time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t go well and look for answers to the question, “Why am I being taken for granted?” Don’t dwell too much on your deficiencies, but more on your strengths and achievements. Check out your perception of reality and what you perceive as their lack of appreciation. What problems are you solving? What makes you different or unique? What would the people you work with say is the value of your presence? Being able to answer these questions will help you realise your own value.
Be realistic of your efforts.
When feeling undervalued at work, ask yourself whether you are being realistic about the amount of feedback and appreciation you expect from your superiors, coworkers, peers or others. Sometimes it is the busyness of people that might not be getting you as much feedback you want. Being recognised for the work you do and the goals you achieve is always a part of job satisfaction from a professional point of view. But this doesn’t mean your coworkers or superiors should praise you for doing the bare minimum. You have to earn your stripe. Accept the role you play in feeling unappreciated and be willing to change. Evaluate whether you are reading too much into someone else’s lack of gratitude or are you responding to a perceived lack of appreciation. Seek a second opinion on whether the amount of appreciation you expect from colleagues, team members or superiors is realistic.
Consider the alternatives.
It may be possible that even after you have tried to make improvements or inspite of all your efforts, you might continue to feel undervalued. This may be due to toxic work culture or people around. It may be time to ask yourself as to whether it’s worth continuing. It might be a sign that it’s not the right place for you to be no matter whether it is personal or professional in nature and time for you to move on. There is no point staying in a place that does not recognize your effort, there may be other places out there who are looking for someone with your skills and experience and who will give you the credit you deserve. Consider asking yourself, Is it worth staying where you won’t be appreciated or recognized for your efforts? Or can you self-motivate and continue? or is it time to move on for the sake of your well-being and self-respect?
We all stay in relationships either personal or professional, that aren’t perfect for a lot of reasons. If you are being taken for granted in any of your personal relationships, look at how you treat yourself on a daily basis. What areas of your life are you taking for granted? Are you taking your physical or emotional health for granted? When was the last time you thought about what is important to you? Tell yourself that being taken for granted is not an option anymore.
Does your workplace appreciates your efforts or are they toxic? Do you feel undervalued at work or not valued at all? Do you feel your work goes unrecognized and your ideas often neglected? Are you often considered for new opportunities or excluded?
If your work is truly not valued at your workplace, seek to objectively assess your value to the organization. Are you doing quality work that matters to the functioning of the place? Are you doing it well? What could you be doing to make more of an impact? Are you people pleasing and have difficulty in saying no? Are you collaborative and supportive of your team or coworkers? Look for areas where you think you have some expertise to offer and share your useful experiences to add value.
Reflect on the above strategies to identify where the problem lies and have a good hard think about whether it’s the right place for you. If you think you deserve better, may be its time to reconsider your job or personal or professional relationship. While there are ways you can position yourself to help assure you will earn recognition from others, if you expect credit for everything you do, you will no doubt find yourself disappointed. Know when to let it go and save your credit-earning strengths for important tasks.
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