7 personality traits that are making you unhappy at work

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Look at what you’re doing right now.

You’re reading an article about being unhappy at work, which probably means two things: you’re unhappy at work, and you’re probably reading this during your work time.

Am I right?

There are a lot of different reasons why you might be unhappy at work, and these can range from insufficient pay to bad management to unfair expectations.

But those external reasons might not be present, and even if they are, it might still be a good idea to look inside.

It’s very possible that your personality simply doesn’t mesh well with the job that you’re doing. OR you might have personality traits that, I’m sorry to say, make it hard for you to be happy in any job.

I know I have my fair share, and it took me years to find the right work for my personality. 

So, if you have any of these seven personality traits that are making you unhappy at work, I hope identifying them will help you out, too.

1) You’re a people pleaser

What’s wrong with wanting to make people happy?

Nothing, in theory.

But in reality, this is a personality trait that will bite you on the bottom again and again.

Because people pleasers work hard to please everyone… except themselves.

What are they like in the world of work?

These are people who say yes to everything and no to nothing. They do whatever they’re told and act how others want them to.

They start to lose themselves because they don’t set boundaries and take on too much work because they don’t want to refuse anything.

In the end, these people end up overloaded, overworked, and, ironically, underappreciated because no one sees the strain of all that they do.

Do you recognize yourself in this description?

If you do, that could be the main reason why you’re unhappy at work.

2) You’re indecisive

One reason that you might not be happy in your job is because you’re not fully committed to it

You always have one foot out the door, and the other is probably drawing circles in the sand as you daydream about being on the beach somewhere instead of working.

Sound familiar?

It does to me.

I worked for years in a host of different jobs across a host of industries – education, construction, agriculture – but nothing really ever felt right.

I was never sure what I truly wanted to do with my career, so I didn’t really have one. 

There was no path, no trajectory, just a series of mostly unrelated jobs.

Eventually, I figured out that I was taking jobs that seemed interesting or well-paying without actually deciding what I wanted to do.

And every employer knew it, too.

I didn’t commit and didn’t produce work up to my potential, and they always seemed to be suspicious of whether I wanted to be there or not.

In most cases, I didn’t know either!

3) You’re unfocused

Focus means being able to concentrate our physical and mental energy on a singular task or toward one goal.

So, if you’re unfocused, you either have trouble keeping your eye on the prize, so to speak, or you might have your attention scattered in too many directions.

I know this has always been an issue for me.

Even in this writing job, I have to fight against my urge to go off on tangents and down rabbit holes at every turn.

See, I get to write about topics that interest me, and that’s great. But sometimes, it can get me into trouble. 

I start researching something, and then I find an interesting article that’s not really related, then a fascinating video, and I know it: I’m miles away from what I was supposed to be writing about.

This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my work – I just have to remind myself to focus so I can actually get anything done!

If you don’t have focus in your work, you can struggle.

You fall behind, produce below expectations, and face criticism for having your head in the clouds.

And all this can make you pretty unhappy.

4) You’re too honest

It’s pretty much impossible to enjoy what you do when it comes into direct conflict with your core values.

So, if you’re an honest, ethical person, but the work you’re doing isn’t exactly above board, this can be a major problem.

A great example of this comes from a friend of mine who used to work as a writer.

Her job was to write product reviews, and she made good enough money doing it.

The only problem was that she was hired by companies to write only positive, biased reviews of their products, passing them off as real, balanced evaluations.

She felt really trapped.

All of her training and experience had been in writing, and she was great at it, yet she felt like she was using her talent for evil instead of good.

My friends and I helped convince her to look elsewhere, and sure enough, she found a different writing job that was in line with her values – an in-house writer for a cancer research charity.

It just goes to show that there are options out there that let honest people use their skills to do something they can feel good about.

5) You’re stubborn or inflexible

Change happens whether we like it or not.

You can either be a small sapling that can bend in the wind or a taller tree that gets snapped in half when a big change comes.

But some people are naturally resistant to change, even in very minor things.

And this inflexibility or rigid way of thinking can clash with a lot of jobs out there.

I had a boss like this once.

She had been working in the organization for over a decade and knew how to do her job perfectly.

That is until we were bought by a bigger company that decided big changes were needed to streamline operations.

And while most people went along with the changes, happy just to have kept their jobs, she fought relentlessly against them.

Not because they were objectively worse than what we were already doing but because she simply didn’t want to change.

She quickly changed from someone considered talented and knowledgeable to someone standing in the way of progress, and she eventually quit the job she had once loved. 

But the job really hadn’t changed that much – it was her stubbornness that made her dislike any changes to it automatically.

6) You’re overconfident

“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

– Bertrand Russell 

Self-confidence is touted as one of the most important and, indeed, attractive qualities a person can have.

So why is it that too much confidence can be a trait that goes the other way?

Being overconfident can lead to many problems in your work life.

First off, this word means that you’re more confident than you should be. In other words, you feel like you have more knowledge or competence than you actually have.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says that because you don’t know much about something, you underestimate its complexity and difficulty and overestimate your ability to handle it.

This can land you in hot water.

You might take on tasks or responsibilities that are beyond your abilities because you think you can handle them, only to find yourself unable to cope.

Overconfidence can also make people dislike you.

Always thinking and saying that you can do this and you can handle that can make you seem cocky, and you can lose support from your colleagues.

7) You’re under-confident

Being over-confident can make you seem like a braggart.

But the opposite can make you timid and unsure, and it can certainly make you unhappy at work.

If your self-confidence is low, it causes all sorts of problems.

Want more money? You have to be able to convince your boss you deserve it, except you don’t really feel that you do.

Want more responsibility? You have to show that you’re able to take it on, but you don’t even believe it yourself.

The way that you see yourself, your self-concept, becomes apparent to others as well. 

People don’t follow your lead because you don’t seem sure of yourself.

They don’t trust you to do things correctly when you’re always being negative about yourself and your abilities.

This trait can make you very unhappy at work and in life outside of work, too.


There are more personality traits that can make you unhappy at work, but these are some of the main ones that stand in people’s way. 

And if they ring a bell to you, good! 

Recognizing them is the first step to understanding yourself better so you can do something to increase your happiness.

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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