· BY JESSICA SIMKO ·
Why is it that most people describe the Corporate America workculture as “difficult”? And trust me, the word ‘difficult’ is an understatement when I consider words I have heard other people use to describe it!
Struggling to find both happiness and success in corporate America is the norm – not the exception. Almost everybody has issues there and most of these issues consist of many outside circumstances that make their life miserable at work.
The boss you can’t get along with. The mean and hateful co-worker. The deceitful management team. The meetings you no longer are invited to attend. The job tasks that were suddenly taken away. The job title change. The new role you were just assigned. The promotion that never comes to be. The raise you don’t get. The president who can’t be trusted. The job tasks you hate. The recognition you don’t ever get. The value that no one perceives you have. The work assignments that someone else claimed as their own.
All of this is compounded by the clock that doesn’t tick fast enough and the weekend – the only 2 days you live for – that can’t ever get here soon enough.
What gives? Why do most people seem to live this life at work?
After 15 years working in corporate America, specifically in human resources, I left (for the most part) for one or more of those reasons. I left because I was tired of playing “the game.”
This was over two years ago now and it took me a long time to figure it all out. But it has left me with the realization that there actually are no games going on at work.
Okay, technically there definitely are a million and one games going on in corporate America every single day and in almost every company. These games bring rise to what you call your “problems” at work, many that are listed a few paragraphs up.
However, my journey since leaving corporate America has taught me that the only games that really went on at work were the ones I created in my mind.
As blatant as some of the “problems” were and as obvious as it was that a situation was definitely going on outside of me and causing me a lot of stress, the only thing that created my misery was my interpretation of that problem.
Do you ever notice the constant mind-bending and twisted chatter that goes on in your head every minute of the day?
Someone walks in your office and says something quite off-putting to you. Or a raise was promised and not delivered. That is the situation. The problem is now you and the voice in your head that talks non-stop about it for hours, days, weeks, and even months or years. The voice interprets what that situation actually means to you and can’t shut up about it!
“Oh my gosh! I didn’t get a raise! She hates me. I bet she’s gonna fire me. She is so evil. She never keeps her promises! She doesn’t appreciate me, she doesn’t value me, she doesn’t give a crap about me at all! Screw her. I’ll show up at 8:00 and walk out the door at 5:00. She doesn’t deserve a minute of my extra time! I’ll just do what she pays me for and that’s about nothing! I gotta find another job before she fires me. I hate it here… Gosh, she is such a %^#$^$#!”
And therein lies the problem. This is your ego interpreting what just happened and incessantly talking about it in your head, keeping you awake at night, and never letting it rest. The more it talks about it, the bigger the problem gets. And it will now seek evidence, in every way it can, to prove you are right. The ego is never satisfied and never happy.
You May Not Be Right…
We don’t ever stop for a moment to check in with the voice in our head. So, two days later, you aren’t invited to a meeting. Perhaps there is a perfectly valid reason for that, but to you, it’s more evidence that your boss hates you and is out to fire you. And the voice talks about it some more.
This is what we do every day at work. We interpret things that happen at work, and run with it until we can’t see straight anymore. But the problem is – as real as your interpretation seems to you – your interpretation was made only through the eyes of your past issues.
You interpret it based on how you see the world, which is only based on your own personal experiences that you have had in your life up until today. It’s not grounded in reality, as much as it seems like it is.
Someone else may also not get a raise that day and their voice in their head might say this, “This company is in trouble. We haven’t gotten raises in a year now. I can’t remember the last time we got a big sale and there were even layoffs five months ago. I should start keeping my options open – I think this company might fold.”
See how that works? Yes, there are people who can be downright mean at work. But why are they mean? Because they are interpreting their work situations through the eyes of their past as well. And because we all do this, we all are operating in a constant state of fear.
You could have a great day at work today – perhaps you had to present a project and you kicked it out of the ballpark. It was awesome! But now your co-worker is suddenly being hateful to you. She excludes you from important communications. You have no idea why. Hence the “game” starts.
But in reality, you were nothing more than a mirror to her when you gave your presentation. You showed her up and made her feel insecure about her place and role in the office. She interprets the meaning of your presentation through the eyes of her own issues.
The Fear Factor
The games at work are nothing more than fear running rampant and unchecked throughout your office. What can you do about this?
It is so critical for you to dig through your past and list out all the critical events that happened in your life. Once you do this, list out the interpretation you assigned to each event.
For example: “My boyfriend dumped me after six years for no reason.”
Interpretation: “I am not worth being with.” This interpretation creates an “I am worthless” mentality from that day forward. It happens unconsciously, but it happens. This will cause you to feel worthless and interpret other people’s actions as them thinking you are worthless.
Look through your list and all its interpretations and start assigning NEW meanings to the events in your past. Your boyfriend dumped you after six years – perhaps the new meaning is “I did all I could. It’s his problem that he was scared to commit to marriage and he has his own issues to deal with. This has NOTHING to do with ME.”
Understanding this concept greatly helps you understand other people and why they act so crazy sometimes. Most importantly, it stops you from taking what others do so personally.
The key is to start thinking consciously. Pay close attention to that annoying voice in your head and the things that bother you at work to cause it to go into a tailspin. Dig deep to discover why you see the situation the way you do and then ask yourself, “Does this really mean what I think it means?”
Most likely, whatever upsets you today comes from a place in your past where you assigned an interpretation to an event unconsciously. This drives your behavior today and will always drive your behavior unless you are conscious about changing it and questioning your thoughts on a regular basis. List out what it is and change that interpretation to what it really means and work hard on reminding yourself of this every day.
We really do create our own misery by letting the voice in our heads run rampant unconsciously. Conscious thinking takes effort, but it also will give you great peace. Amongst many other things, it gives you the power to decide how your day goes – no longer can others walk in to your office, say a bunch of words, and ruin your day. This is the key that will help stop corporate America from sucking the life out of you.