7 Signs You're Being Disrespected At Work, According To HR Experts


In my first “real” job out of college, I had a nightmare boss. Granted, I was young and inexperienced — and did plenty of things that, looking back, must have been frustrating — but the job was entry level and they specifically wanted someone with very little experience. But instead of training me, my boss alternated between indirect insults, ignoring me, and purposely excluding me from group events. Just like in an abusive relationship, she’d be a little bit nice every couple of months and I’d think, “Oh! Maybe it’s getting better!” only for her to slam me back down again. I was being disrespected at work constantly for two and a half years.

Like I said: A nightmare. But while I knew the situation wasn’t working for me, I was too inexperienced to really trust my own instincts. Was this normal? Was I to blame? Should I just buck up and deal with it? I spent a lot of time doubting myself during that job and eventually quit and moved to South America. (Yup — that’s how rough it was. I left the continent to get away from my boss and that job.)

So I know how it feels to be disrespected at work — and to not even know whether or not you’re being disrespected. I know what it feels like to continually doubt yourself; to feel like something is not quite right but not be able to exactly nail down what’s wrong. With the hope of helping out other people who are in that situation (and maybe if you can identify it sooner, you can get out sooner), HR professionals share signs that you’re not being respected at work below.

They Don’t Want To Hear Your Opinion

Do you have a colleague or boss who never wants to hear anyone else’s opinion? That’s disrespectful.

“A colleague who shows no interest in hearing other people's opinions is exhibiting signs of disrespect,” Lee Fisher, head of HR at Roman Blinds Direct, tells Bustle. “This is especially damaging when it compromises the quality of our output, or has an effect on team morale.”

You Hate Going To Work

Sure, everyone hates going to work sometimes. But do you wake up every morning dreading going in?

“Do you hate coming into work each day? Why?” Marina Vorobyev, CEO of career consultancy company Skillumè, tells Bustle. “If the answer is that you don't want to go into the office because you dread the interaction with the people in your department because they aren't nice to you, or you dislike the way your manager speaks to you, chances are you are being mistreated.”

Your Superiors Call You Names

Obviously being called a “bitch” is a blatant sign of disrespect, but even other — seemingly sweet — names are also disrespectful.

“The signs you are not being respected at work are subtle to blatant,” veteran HR executive and head of the HR firm we.moxie, Jennifer Oswald tells Bustle. “Being called 'honey', 'sweetie', 'missy' and other slang words that are signs of disrespect or not being taken seriously.”

You’re Overloaded

Do you do more work than your colleagues without getting paid more? Do you rarely get credit for everything you do? That could be a sign that you’re not being respected.

“One of the biggest signs of disrespect in the workplace is that you’re undervalued and overworked,” Charles Vethan, CEO of the Vethan Law Firm, tells Bustle. “Too many assignments with little consideration of your schedule or workload is a red flag.”

You’re Actively Excluded

One thing that really stings is being ignored or actively excluded from group activities — or even meetings. “If your colleagues ignore you and make an effort to exclude you from conversations or work functions, they are disrespecting you,” Vethan says.

Work Feels Like High School

Cliquey behavior sucks in high school, but it almost sucks more when it happens at work because you feel like you and your peers should be past this kind of nonsense. So if work feels like high school? It may be time to find a new job. “If your workplace reminds you of high school, with cliques you’re not a part of and gossip about you, then you’re being disrespected,” Vethan says.

There’s An “I Win, You Lose” Culture

“The most common signs of disrespect at work? They’re what I call the ‘three D’s’ — discounting, dismissing, and demeaning behaviors from one (or many) players to another,” S. Chris Edmond, CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, tells Bustle. “In a work culture driven by an ‘I win, you lose’ dynamic, the three D’s are used frequently. If I discount, dismiss, and demean your efforts, ideas, contributions, and more, then I look better than you. I ‘win’ while you ‘lose.’”

Obviously not everyone has the option of quitting like I did when things become unbearable, but if you’ve gone through this list and checked off more than you’re comfortable with? It may be time to hit the job boards. Remember: Work doesn’t have to be like this. You can find somewhere that respects and values you.