5 Steps to Avoid Being Taken Advantage of

What You Can Do to Be Assertive and True to Yourself

To avoid being taken advantage of, you have to be clear on your priorities and learn to be assertive and true to yourself.

It’s not uncommon to feel you are being taken advantage of, especially by those you interact with regularly. The problem is whenever you feel you are taken advantage of, it means you are feeling resentment.

If you feel resentful, it can cause you to do or say things you may regret later.

The signs that indicate you are being taken advantage of include:

  • You are doing more for others without getting a fair return.
  • Others are constantly asking more from you.
  • Your value or the things you do are not appreciated.
  • Others rely on you to do things for them, which means they do not take responsibility.
  • You feel you are not doing all you can for others and feel you are not good enough.
  • You feel mentally and emotionally drained.
  • You feel stressed and tired regularly.

Feeling being taken advantage of will not serve you, therefore knowing what you can do to deal with it will make a difference to your well-being.

avoid being taken advantage of
avoid being taken advantage of

During my corporate career, a company I worked for had gone through internal restructuring, which meant many roles were redundant. I had a logistics coordinator role and oversaw the dispatch function of the business.

After the restructure, the dispatch coordinator role was made redundant, which required me to take on that role. This meant I was responsible for two full-time roles.

I worked from two desks every day, trying my best to get things done. It was a struggle mentally and also physically exhausting. I felt the company was taking advantage of me as I was not compensated accordingly. That generated unnecessary stress and resentment and it showed up in my quality of work.

After over a year of doing two roles, the company acquired one of their competitors, which meant more work and responsibilities for me. After raising my frustrations with my manager, my workload was reduced with the hiring a new employee.

The interesting thing was, even though I received a promotion within a year, that feeling I was taken advantage of never went away. Within two-and-a-half years, I resigned from my role and left the company.

It’s best to keep things simple if you think you are being taken advantage of. Here are five things you can do to avoid being taken advantage of so you can stay true to yourself and follow through on your commitments.

  1. Communicate your priorities clearly. If you feel you are being taken advantage of, it’s because you are allowing it and have not communicated your preferences clearly. Most times, others are not aware of your capacity or how much you can handle. If you are clear on your priorities, you can renegotiate if you feel you are over-committed.
  2. Practice saying “no” more often. Practicing saying “no” will reduce stress and overwhelm. A powerful sentence you can use when saying no is, “This is not against you, but I am doing it for me.” Applying the principles of a positive no will help you keep a healthy attitude.
  3. Trust your gut or intuition. When a new demand is placed on you, giving yourself extra time before responding will prevent any misunderstanding or disagreement later on. This is about trusting your gut and making a decision that feels right to you.
  4. Develop mental strength. The ability to say “no” more often will require mental strength. As you develop your mental strength, you will feel more comfortable being assertive and you will also be more resilient.
  5. Set healthy boundaries as needed. If you don’t value your time and energy, others won’t too. Creating boundaries, without damaging relationships, will protect you mentally and emotionally. This means you will stay true to your word and follow through on what you have agreed to.

It’s never a good thing if you feel you are being taken advantage of. That can lead to disagreements, delays in getting things completed and also affect relationships.

When you are true to yourself and what matters most to you, others will respect your priorities. It will also allow you to let go of negative emotions, such as anger or resentment, and be in a positive frame of mind.

Action Step: Reflect on whether you feel you are being taken advantage of in any area of your life. If you believe you are, apply these ideas and communicate with those involved to reach win-win outcomes.

Question: What are other steps you can take to avoid being taken advantage of?

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