I have come to the conclusion that most managers are more interested in PR and keeping "low tones" among teams and individuals than getting the job done. (They want to avoid heated arguments). For example, if someone in another team is sloppy in his work, causing me to waste because of that, if I am too direct interacting with that person in order to save time, I get criticized by management as an issue of personal communication. On the other hand my managers do recognize the other party's poor quality of work and the fact that it disrupts my daily tasks.

But the problem is that the other parties never seem to improve so that they "help" me out; while I keep on being criticized for my interactions with them.


  • If I send too many mails to figure out how to proceed the complaint is that I send too many mails.
  • If I am losing time they complain I wasn't direct in my communication to push things.
  • If I am direct specifying what the other person is doing wrong I get the complaint that I am not friendly etc.

Basically is a no win situation for me that has as effect 2 things:

  1. It makes me have a bad mood in work as I end up redoing things that should have been finished and not focus on interesting aspects of my work.
  2. I am pretty sure I will never be considered to go to the next level eg for managerial positions as this "communications" criticism is constantly hinted to me without though helping me on how/what should I do to improve (at least according to the management standards).

I am sure that some of the issue is part of my personality as I am a very direct person and task oriented which could be viewed by others as blunt or insensitive. Also this isn't the first company I had this problem. I do want to improve basically because I want to enjoy my work and be able to progress but nobody helps me out.

How can I handle people (who, due to their inabilities cause extra and unnecessary work to me) in a way that doesn't cause a quality issue in my own work, and management stops complaining about my attitude?

  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame: That thread is about revealing incompetence. My problem is known incompetence which PR or whatever makes my management wanting to not address it directly
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 20:49
  • @Telastyn: I never got a complaint about my quality of work. But I got the complaint that I am too direct. I don't know if there is some other problems I have interacting with my managers. I have noticed that they try to keep things "smooth"
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 20:57
  • Its actually about making it more visible to make it more difficult for management to ignore. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 14:01
  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame: I suspect that managers don't want to get involved with such issues.
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 14:48
  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame: Also I am not sure what you suggest with the visibility
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 15:25

4 Answers 4


The criticism of you is the only thing you should be worrying about. You need to learn to communicate more tactfully. You have been repeatedly told this (in more than one job!) and yet somehow it never gets fixed. That seems to be the exact same situation as your coworker has since they have probably also repeatedly told him to fix some things (you would never be told what actions they are taking concerning him, you know, more may be happening behind the scenes than you know.) and he has not. Well at least you know they are unlikely to fire you for your inability to fix your own performance.

You also need to learn to play politics because that is the ONLY way to have much influence in any organization. There are books on this topic, I'd suggest you read them.

  • I also believe that I am partly a cause of this that is why I mentioned that I had this issue before. The problem is that I don't know what I need to do to fix this. I am too direct and straightforward as a character and bad in politics. What books do you recommend? I guess if to improve no one helps me out to overcome this I might as well read about it
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 21:04
  • 1
    @JimJim Maybe Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends and Influence People?
    – sgryzko
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 23:28
  • @interrobang: does that help for company politics?
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 10:04
  • @JimJim I find it helps not just with politics, but with soft skills in general.
    – sgryzko
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 14:46

We can't judge your peers' or manager's ability levels but the fact that you are willing to share your judgement is a red flag to me.

Being direct and task oriented as not a bad thing. I have worked with people like that (and I have been described as the same) with no issues and I believe to some extent your co-workers need to be able to see past that as you should see past their personality differences.

However, being a judgmental person and freely sharing your judgment can be a toxic influence on a team. Are you in a position where it is part of your job to judge your peers in this way? You also should not be so judgmental of your manager without knowing everything they have to deal with. The fact that you have had this situation at multiple jobs leads me to believe that this behavior is the crux of the problem.

IMHO, if you can not change your tendency to be judgmental and open with those opinions, this problem will follow you wherever you go. Nobody wants to hear their co-workers complain about them being a poor worker.

  • So it is preferable to complaint in private to the manager about specific behaviors than being open about them? In my mind (perhaps what I will say is stupid) it is more honest to show that you have an issue than smile to someone and complain about them privately.
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:35
  • You don't need to smile or pretend it's ok. You can just say "this will make me late" or "this is not working" not "you are sloppy" or "I always have to finish your work." Talk about yourself and let your manager (who is trained on it) improve your coworkers skill levels, if that is what's needed. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:48
  • Very important statement in Kate's comment, worth repeating: "Talk about yourself" instead of talking about others.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:53
  • This answer is a red flag to me of a poor worker who doesn't like being criticized for their work.
    – Asclepius
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 11:52

I recognize some of your behaviours in people I have employed in the past. I understand you have to simplify things to fit within the format of a question, but it looks to me like you want a simple set of rules that are always followed. How much to communicate. What to do if a peer hasn't done a good job. How many emails to send. And when people and situations appear to contradict each other, you're frustrated and upset.

If you worked for me, and I wanted to keep you around, I would have a number of personal chats with you to try to help you improve your judgement on these matters and gain the experience you need to make good decisions instead of relying on simple rules. Because the fact is there are no simple rules and what to do always depends on what else is going on.

Let's take a simple example that a coworker has made a mistake, or taken too long to do something, or in some other way jeopardized the schedule. Now you're going to have to put your own time in to fix it. STOP. Why do you have to fix it? Does anyone else know what's going on? Have you informed (not necessarily asked) your manager what's happening? If you're going to take over and fix it, why do you need to tell your coworker all about how sloppy and low quality they are? Why not just use a supportive tone to say "I can fix it, it's probably the quickest thing to get us back on schedule" and later, tell your manager what happened? If you're not going to fix it, and it's not really your business, well again why are you being all direct and making sure your coworker knows your low opinion of their work? It's going to delay you? Tell them that - a fact about you, not a fact about them - and also tell your manager. And then see if there's something clever you can do (doing things in a different order perhaps) to mitigate the delay. Tell people what's going on. Not sending a ton of emails asking what to do, but making sure that important information about you (still waiting on those jpg's so I can get started) is shared with those who need it when they need it.

Sometimes it's hard to see the difference between two things that appear the same to you. But sending an email or being direct that "you're late! this is sloppy! Now the project will be delayed!" is not that same as "I really need that by tomorrow morning in order to keep the project on time." If your emails are about your own self and what you need, and not about the other person and what they have done, you may find they are better received. If you focus on what is relevant and in scope for you (let's get this done on time, I need two days to do my part of it, you need to tell me what was decided in the meeting so I can write my document) and ignore what is not in scope for you (wow you're so sloppy, what a low quality team member you are, our boss should do something about you, you're disrupting the project) then both you and the recipient of your emails will be happier.

Finally, when you're given direction from management, don't waste it by disagreeing with it or assuming it is wrong. Ask more questions. When you're rebuked for not pushing to get things done, ask "last month, you told me not to send that many emails again because it upset people. What would be a good way to push and get things done without upsetting people by sending too many emails?" IMPORTANT: do not use a tone of "ha! Caught you in a contradiction! So much for you correcting me eh?". Instead, sound like (and in your heart please try to mean it) you want to learn. They think these messages don't contradict. You don't. You're missing something. What you're missing could cost you your job or your chances of promotion. But they haven't fired you yet, so they are probably willing to teach you. Are you willing to learn? Or are you sure they're all just stupid?

  • Well there are no frequent chats. And when we talk I find them contradicting. I don't think they are stupid. I think they are more focused on PR. I get the impression that managers don't want to get involved between differences. In other cases with differences between other people I have noticed they "stayed out" just participating as little as possible.
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:40
  • To be clear. I don't deny that some of the problem is mine. But sometimes I feel like no matter what I do I am wrong.
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:44
  • 2
    That is why asking questions instead of deciding "they just care about PR" or "I guess they're just contradicting" is a better way forward. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:47
  • 1
    It seems that none of the answers make any assumption about "politics" and that people are promoted/hired for reasons other than their skills. While I need to change my attitude I am wondering if I have applied for work to the wrong places as well and should be seeking healthier companies.
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 17:09

You are trying to please everybody and predictably enough, no one is happy with you including you.

I suggest that you please ONE person, and that one person is you. Instead of trying to be all sorts of contradictory things to people, that you stop the foolishness and apply the personal style that best fits your personality and that you are most comfortable with - My personal style makes Attila the Hun look like a wimpette :) If I had a dog, the dog would run away from home :)

Better a few people being happy with you than no one being happy with you :)

In the light of your comment on my answer:

I talked to my management about me going to sensitivity training classes - the idea went over like a lead balloon - they said they could recognize a complete waste of money when they saw it :) I am blunt and tactless and I am perceived as such. And yet, I am generating nowhere near the universal negativity that you are getting. Probably because I am also perceived as being more than willing to help, and the fact that I am non-judgemental does comes through.

If someone comes to me for help, that's because they are in trouble. I am hardly interested that they screwed up - my focus is getting them out of trouble and back on track. My questions are crisp but focused on problem solving. I am not interested in anything but problem solving. I am interested in how they got there only within the context of problem solving. What's done is done, I can't turn back the clock and the only option is moving forward from there.

I don't do any of that judgemental b.s. about others being of "low quality", "sloppy" and whatnot. It's one thing to say that someone screwed up. It's a whole other thing to state that someone is of "low quality" or that they are "sloppy":it amounts to you passing judgement and if your passing judgement on them comes through clearly in the way you talk to them - "I am too direct with them" is a euphemism is for something ugly like you are being condescending to them, it's no surprise that they'll want your head even though you may have just saved their butt.

It gets worse: If I were your manager, I'd probably fire you because you are not treating those you are helping with the respect that they deserve. Especially if those you are helping are part of my staff - They may not know some of the things you do, but I didn't hire them because they are stupid, low quality or sloppy. I hired them because they are generally competent and I expect you to back them up not to back stab them with gratuitous comments about their low quality or sloppiness and whatnot. If they are indeed careless, sloppy and of low quality, just detail those instances to me and I'll deal with that. You are here to back up my staff and to back it up to the hilt. I didn't hire you to pass judgement on them and to act on that judgement - If my staff were truly incompetent, I would have fired them long ago. Thank your lucky stars that you don't work for me.

Focus on helping. Your self-talk about others being of low quality and sloppy is getting you nowhere career-wise and in fact,it shouldn't. Cut out that self-talk. Help, and let your other qualities - intelligence, quick reaction, etc - if you have any shine through while you help. Right now, your unfortunate interaction with them is blinding them to your other qualities if any. And unless you stop passing judgement, your legitimate attempts to do your job such as eliciting more information and data are going to be perceived in the worst possible light. Needless to say, this will negatively impact your effectiveness on the job sooner or later.

Unfortunately, you are not shy about passing judgement on your managers either,referring to them as PR oriented and in "low tones"-It's not coming through to me that you either understand their job or that you understand how they have to act to do their job. I'll give you a hint: they can far less afford to make people mistakes than you can.

Another hint: the Bible says "Do not judge others, lest you be judged" You're setting yourself up to be judged pretty harshly.

  • We'll as I said in the OP I do apply my personal style. I already mentioned that as a person I am very direct and task oriented. I think management think I miss tact because of thus. So I have ended up me being unhappy and management not happy
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 9:13
  • @JimJim If you apply your own personal style and you are unhappy, then that's because you let others make you unhappy. Applying your own personal style and worrying about what others think is NOT applying your personal style. I am still happy with my personal style 25 years later. I gave up trying to make people happy long ago - only they can make themselves happy. If your personal style includes making others happy, then you are going nowhere. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 9:45
  • May be you are smarter than me. Because applying my personal style just got me nowhere because 1) the issues that made me unhappy due to other people sloppiness were never resolved 2) Management complain about my style and I will never be considered for higher positions because of my style as I have understood
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 10:07
  • So basically it is a no win situation so far
    – Jim Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 10:16
  • 1
    @JimJim If you are working on your tasks, and you decide that helping that someone who is asking you for help is going to take a chunk of your time, tell that someone that you are on a critical path for say task A and that you can't help right now. However, if they believe their task is high priority compared to what you are doing, they should talk to your manager and have your manager override you. Your enjoyment of the work is an irrelevant consideration to your colleagues and management. The relevant consideration to your management is your ability to complete your tasks in a timely way. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 15:38

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