6 Reasons You’re Getting the Side-Eye at Work

We spend most of our time at work and we typically interact with different personalities and our reactions vary in certain situations. The side-eye is a multitasker; it can express annoyance, curiosity, jealousy, scorn and suspicion. In some situations, where you’re the on-looker, the side-eye can be side-splitting funny. Here are some scenarios where the side-eye may appear in the work environment.

You’ve set boundaries

This is an example of a breakdown of the typical work day:

  • You (should) sleep for 6 to 8 hours
  • You’re out of the house within an hour of being awake
  • Your commuting to and from work is another hour
  • You earn your keep for another 8 hours

So that leaves you with 5-7 hours in each work day that you have in reserve for you, your family and friends. Thirty-five hours a week. The frequent outings and the after work drinks/meals, well they cut into your personal quality time. Some organizations bill events as family fun days and encourage you to bring your family to interact with your work colleagues.

Therefore, when your preference is being somewhere else catching up with friends, bonding with family or just decompressing, you’ll probably be viewed as anti-social. There may even be some resentment from those who feel they MUST participate in these activities to keep on the good side of “Those-Who-Matter.”

You’ve not set boundaries

No matter an organisation’s culture, boundaries exist in principle. And where there are boundaries, there are lines that must not and should never be crossed. While you may build close relationships with your co-workers, it is rare for them all to be your friends. And unless it’s a family run business, they are not related to you. Consequently, the majority of your co-workers do not have an interest in you or your personal life other than the basics.

Your co-workers certainly don’t need to know that you drank that thing the one time that turned your pee blue. Also, they don’t need to be bombarded with pictures from your last vacation. I freely admit to experiencing the teensiest bit of resentment when I learn a colleague is going off on vacation leave. That resentment increases whenever there are updates on all the fun they’re having while I am mired in demands and deadlines. Things return to normal once they’ve returned to the trenches. Is that just me?

They’ve read you wrong

You are an introvert and as a result, your actions are misunderstood or misinterpreted.

What you know hurts you and others

I recently read a FastCompany article that there are three reasons people or organizations have secrets. You’re the type that’s never heard a secret that’s been worth keeping or you spend more time gossiping. This behavior will ruin your personal and professional credibility. There is no excuse, even if it is “good news,” whether it was told to you in confidence or you overheard, it is not your story to tell. Even if there is some kind of public announcement, depending on the subject, it may still not be ok for you to broadcast to others.

You’ve got it going on

You’ve hit that sweet spot in your professional and perhaps personal life. The glass ceiling is about to be shattered and your colleagues and friends are scampering for cover in order to avoid the shards. For some, no matter where they are on the organizational hierarchy, your achievements will never be worthy of you and they will wonder, why you and not them. Cue the side-eye.

You earned those achievements honestly. Hence, there is no room for guilt and you should not feel unworthy. That issue is their burden and it’s something they will have to carry.

It’s not you

There are some persons who will just not like you. You’ll be getting that side-eye every day. It’s not anything you did or said and it doesn’t matter what you will do in this or any other life. You may never get a plausible explanation and it is not your job to find one. You simply will have to live with it just as they will have to. And who knows, one day, that too may change, and some of those same people will be your friend.

Related Reading:
The History of the Side-eye
Your Guide to Setting Boundaries at Work—Without Making Anyone Resent You
7 Tips for Setting Boundaries at Work

Erica Harris is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Sherie Sanders

I can especially relate to the first one. As an introvert, I need lunches to myself to recharge. I have had many a colleague take umbrage because I did not want to go to lunch, hiking thru malls to find them the perfect outfit, and so forth. Thanks for the reminder that whatever you do, someone is bound to be displeased!

Avatar photo Nicole Blake Johnson

Great post! The side-eye is a real thing, and I can definitely relate to the scenarios you called out.