Concerned about criticism

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2012
Concerned about criticism
Wed, 01-08-2014 - 2:52pm


I am feeling concerned about criticism re my bad attitude at work.  This was a huge shock to me as I always strive to be professional.  During my performance review last month I was criticised by my boss relating to body language.  She says this shows I'm frustrated with the menial aspects of my role  I'm in a team support role).  When I asked for specific details, she struggled to come up with anything but did say she thought I had once told a colleague I was too busy to do something for them when asked.  I cannot recall ever doing this and indeed often work overtime, unasked and without thanks. She put very strong pressure on me to admit that I didn't like the job.  I didn't know where she was headed with this confession thing so I responded as neutrally as I could. 

To be honest I do find some of the stuff frustrating, but always strive to act in a professional manner and be friendly as we are a small close-knit team and I have been here for a long time.  Even with the worst parts of the job I strive to come over as neutral.  My colleagues on the same level confirm that I do act professionally in their eyes. 

My question is basically, is it possible to get rid of someone because of perceived body language?  It feels like the thought police are on patrol!  I am feeling vulnerable and unsure where I stand and I fear that this may eventually be pursued down the disciplinary route.  I believe that my work is satisfactory and I'm not complacent.  I'm a shy person so perhaps my body language problem is a part of that?  Or maybe my face doesn't fit any more and these are attempts to get rid of me?  Please help!


Avatar for lizmvr
Community Leader
Registered: 06-06-2001
Thu, 01-09-2014 - 8:41am

As a follow up to asking for examples, did you ask her for ways that she might have in mind to help you change this perception of you having a bad attitude? If you didn't ask that, maybe you still should, following maybe a statement of how you really value your job and want to do your best in your role there.

Maybe you should try to strive for more enthusiastic than neutral, too. It could be that by just trying for neutral you're not getting quite there yet, shy or not. I should mention, too, though that sometimes joking about the more menial things at a job can actually be seen as positive rather than negative. For example, if you have to clear a paper jam, laughing about the "always jamming" copier can be ingratiating rather than irritating to coworkers. It can provide a bonding topic. So can collating. If you have an assembly line with another coworker to put together packets, you both are in the same menial boat and if you can lighten the mood by laughing about your luck "getting stuck doing this routine thing," you're actually building a stronger team. Sometimes that actually sheds light on the tasks and earns you recognition for pitching in, too.

On a more serious note, in many situations you can be let go or fired for all sorts of reasons. It is possible that if you don't fit into your working group well, it's within the rights of your employer to terminate your employment. I am not sure that you are remotely near to this happening, but you are right in trying to address any negatives in your performance review.

Good luck!



Clinical Research Associate


Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 01-10-2014 - 8:37pm

My question is basically, is it possible to get rid of someone because of perceived body language?  If you live in an "at will" state, then YES, they can get rid of you for ANY reason, as long as it is not discriminatory.

I cannot recall ever doing this and indeed often work overtime, unasked and without thanks.  As a previous manager myself, I must point out that most managers would see this as an indication that you cannot get your job done in the allotted time, and are trying to make up.  This does NOT reflect well on you.

Finally, professionalism has NOTHING to do with attitude.  Your "neutrality" comes across as arrogance and distaste.  You should be displaying enthusiausm for the job, and cameraderie with your teammates. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2012
Mon, 01-13-2014 - 4:23pm
Thanks for this, Lizmvr. Food for thought there. I'm going to follow up with by saying to the boss that I value my job, apologise for giving the impression that I am frustrated, and say that I want to remain a part of the team and do my bit. To me, that means understanding my role and sticking to it and doing my professional best - professional in the sense of always treating colleagues and their requests with politeness and respect. Knowing the team as I do, I think that an overly submissive attitude would make them more uncomfortable than relaxed behaviour. I've also been reminded that sometimes it takes others to point out that thoughts or frustrations do leak out in the form of body language even if you think they don't at the time. A reality check for me.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2012
Mon, 01-13-2014 - 4:46pm

Thanks for your comments, Sabrtooth. Regarding the overtime, there's simply an expectation that I will do all the stuff that comes my way without bothering a manager with the details. I understand that this may come over as being incompetent, and I'm sure that in some situations this is the case. However, where the individual is unable to control the timing of the work coming in, and there is little concern on the part of managers about this, it often comes down to two choices: work overtime, or leave on time with the work undone. I would say that the first action could indicate enthusiasm while leaving on time despite the extra work and regardless of the consequences for colleagues could come over as arrogance or defiance.