toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

September 03, 2007

signs your job is in trouble

Juanita has had more job and relationship troubles than the average woman, and has learned a great deal from her mistakes. She is now a happily married stay at home wife but dearly wants to find a stable job.

"Signs of a job or a relationship breakdown have similarities," says Juanita, "Let's start with job jeopardy first."

"No sooner than finding a job, you’re likely to be out of it without notice," says Juanita. "Sometimes, there are no early signs, and by the time the obvious signs hit you it's too late to make a graceful exit."

"For women who are in stressful situations like this it is difficult to see the wood for the trees."

"The obvious signs of job jeopardy," says Juanita, "include such manipulative measures as being given a special project that stinks, a less senior person getting promoted over you, superiors becoming uncommunicative, your minor mistakes suddenly being seen as major mistakes, being no longer invited to after-hours functions, your PC mysteriously starting to play up, things disappearing off your desk, strange things appearing on your desk, being moved without warning, learning that team meetings are held when you're away, managers and co-workers avoiding you and either being given less work or inundated with extra work."

"I've experienced all of these obvious manipulative behaviors in the jobs I've had," laughs Juanita, "and some happened so soon after I started the job that it was difficult to tell whether this was normal for the job or whether they were blatantly trying to get rid of me quickly!"

"The obvious signs of relationship jeopardy," says Juanita, "include such manipulative measures as the guy talking a lot more about other women than he does about you, sleeping in the study saying he doesn't want to disturb you, becoming uncommunicative or critical towards you, no longer taking you out or buying you gifts, taking calls in private, opening a post office box for his mail, removing his belongings from your place, spending more and more time away from home, finding incriminating things he has hidden in sometimes not-to-secret places, buying new clothes, getting a make-over, joining a gym, finding tell-tale marks on his clothes and realizing that his friends and family are avoiding you."

"I've experienced all of these obvious manipulative behaviors in the relationships I've had, too," laughs Juanita, "and while it's more difficult to spot the obvious signs with guys you're dating than with the guys you're married to, it's basically the same old routine."

"Over and above signs that are obvious for jobs or relationships," explains Juanita, "there are obvious signs for both situations and these include receiving telephone hang-ups, they can’t look you in the eye, or if they do it is done brazenly, they touch parts of their face, particularly the nose - always a good sign of deception, they speak rapidly, they change the subject, there are inappropriate silences in conversations, they stop talking when you enter the room and when you inquire 'is anything wrong?' they deny it."

Juanita says that there are plenty more obvious signs that can be added to all the ones she's mentioned, but she's covered the basics and the rest are peculiar to specific situations.

"I have honed my intuition sufficiently not to face too many obvious signs of manipulative behavior these days," says Juanita, "but because these signs are happening earlier in jobs and relationships because of the uncertain times we live in, I believe we should all be prepared to face unpleasantness and do our best not to rationalize what is happening."

"When we receive obvious signs," says Juanita, "our situation has gone beyond the early warning stage. By then, we are in deep trouble and probably past the stage at which we can mend the situation."

Juanita feels that paying attention to these signs and accepting that our job or relationship is ending is far smarter, and healthier for us, than ignoring the signs and carrying on regardless.

"While it would be so much easier if those doing the deceiving were candid and did not have to resort to this bizarre behavior," she says, "it is really no more bizarre than ours if we are rationalizing it."

"By remaining in a job or a relationship where the signs are pretty clear that something is very wrong," says Juanita, "we are deceiving ourselves. We are acting in a bizarre manner, too."

Juanita had to educate herself to become an intuitive woman. She is now able to read the early signs of trouble very quickly, and when there are obvious signs of trouble without the early signs she has trained herself to act swiftly and appropriately to what is happening around her.

Whether the signs indicate that a job is going down the gurgler, or a relationship is, Juanita feels that it is her responsibility to tune in and act quickly, saving herself a lot of anguish down the line.

"If I knew then, what I know now," sighs Juanita, "I could have had a beautiful life. It's all very well for myself - and others - to rationalize that without meeting so many Mr Wrongs I would never have met Mr Right, but the fact is that if I had been smart I would never have got involved with so many Mr Wrongs to start off with."

Juanita was 51 - yes, 51 - when she met her Mr Right and intends to take full responsibility for making the rest of her life beautiful.

"As for the jobs," sighs Juanita, "I can't do much about the outsourcing and downsizing and all the other stuff that causes so much uncertainly and strange behavior in workplaces. I'm just lucky that I'm married and don't need a job so desperately that I have to put up with that sort of bad treatment any more."

(Juanita's story first appeared as jeopardy signs and is reprinted with permission.)

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