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How to behave if your superiors react badly to your every word?

I mean situations when specific, job-related topics are being discussed and you bring up an idea in the context of this discussion. The ideas aren't completely absurd of course. They are on the same level of other people's inputs. I'm not saying they definitely need to be implemented or are the best ones of course, but the reaction is always negative, bordering on gaslighting.

Should I really just shut up and withdraw?

  • I've tried pretending not to see the bad reaction and just continuing trying to conduct a rational discussion but it's visible that people are irritated and negative towards me.
  • I've tried reacting with self-confidence and asking the person whether he's irritated by what I've said since he seems so. He apologised. And hated me afterwards.
  • I've tried telling my boss I'm happy about every feedback and if he wants me to let him lead and to hold back myself, I will be "more than happy to". He stressed he absolutely expects my contributions. And reacted badly to them afterwards.

This happened to me in my previous job too. Normally it happens when I work with highly extroverted, quite unstructured, not very analytical people. I know I myself come across as a bit introverted, quite structured and very analytical.

Remarks:

  • The points I bring up are fact-based and not accusatory or offensive of course; they are normally constructive proposals to solve problems that are being discussed
  • I absolutely don't dominate discussions, the opposite is true. I don't talk much (because at the current situation, I'm afraid to), but when I do this is received badly.
  • It's mostly about discussions with my peers or superiors, but ones where I would think I'm expected to contribute and not only sit and nod.
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    Could you give us a more concrete example of this? Like, an example of an idea you've brought up, how you presented that idea to the group, the context of the discussion that led you to bring up that idea, and specific things that people said or did after you'd expressed your idea? What's written here is way too subjectively based to get a good handle on the situation, which means fewer and lower-quality answers. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Aug 20 at 20:46
  • @Upper_Case, I don't even mean "big ideas". Like, a meeting is organised as a telco. However, we are sitting in the same building as the some of the other participants. So my spontaneous thing to say is: "Should we invite the rest to the room?" The reaction is: "This is a CALL!" and anger towards me. (No, there were no reasons why this was to stay a call). The same idea was repeated later by a colleague not from a minority and it was accepted. – user353267 Aug 21 at 5:01
  • That word minority potentially changes the whole discussion. What country is this? Is there rampant racism/classism that may be coming into play here? Sorry this is happening to you, if that’s what’s going on. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Aug 21 at 11:11
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All we know is what you’re telling us, so we honestly don’t know what’s going on any better than you do. If this behavior has followed you across several workplaces, then something is happening, and I’d say it’s definitely worth getting to the bottom of what’s going on. I think the only way to do this will be to ask. Ask people one at a time, in private, using (a summary of) the words you’ve used here. Start with your boss. Ask him to be honest. Tell him what you perceive, and ask him how to make things better.

  • That's right. Maybe you want to add examples? From my workplace: one person always was accusing others that they didn't understand his concepts while he was just really bad at explaining them and contradicted himself; another person was delivering good work most of the time but 10% of his ideas were just way off so that people were irritated and thought he might be joking. – Chris Aug 21 at 1:58
  • Actually I have done that. I mentioned in my initial post that I addressed the issue head on several times. But I don't get any valuable info. People react defensive or apologize but the situation doesn't change. Btw, I have never said I have this problem with everybody. – user353267 Aug 21 at 4:58
  • @user353267 There is a grey area where colleagues don't like what you do or how you do it, but they cannot objectively argue about it. Then they won't tell, because it might be reflected on them, for example they will be accused of discrimination or that they put their personal problems above work. You can only ask a close colleague what others area talking about you. – Chris Aug 21 at 6:53

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