Early in my career, I never worked at a place for more than two years. I usually quit my job because of the ‘bullshit’ at work. You know, the office politics, the poor management, the idiotic people, the lame office culture etc. I would be relieved to find a new job. After a few months, I’d get pissed off with the same bullshit, then I’d find another job. After a few jobs I noticed a trend – same bullshit at different workplace. Who knew? It doesn’t matter if it is for profit, non-profit, small or big organizations, as long as there are two people working there, bullshit will surface.
In recognizing and accepting this sad, but honest truth, I was able to develop great management/coping skills. Now I quit my jobs for the right reasons – to move into better opportunities; rather than, running away from a ‘presumably’ bad situation. And by better opportunities, I mean ones that move me closer to my family’s Vision.
Here is my workplace bullshit survival guide. The goal is to help with minimizing stress so you can have a better work life balance, or should I say work life separation. There will always be a bit of stress from work, but if you are taking it home with you and losing sleep over it or letting it affect other parts of your life, then that is not in my opinion, healthy.
1. Keep work in perspective. Our culture defines us by what we do and as a result, determines our worth. When we meet new people for the first time, one of the first questions will be “what do you do for a living?” Our identity has become attached to what we do. This is probably one of the reasons why people are constantly working. Here’s the truth. Your job is what you do and NOT who you are. Like most people, work is one part of one’s life. Even if it is a big part, it is nevertheless, ONE part. When you clock out at quitting time, you’ve got other things to do.
2. Balance the bad with the good. When we dislike a job, we constantly think of the bad and how it affects us. This is what eats us up inside and takes over our thoughts. Seldom do we think of the good. It is important to take stock of the good. If you were to put the good and the bad on a scale, how balanced is it? How important are the good things to you? The bad? Are the bad things bad enough for you to quit your job? And will you get what you want in a new employer? Keep in mind the grass is not always greener on the other side.
3. Don’t feed the bullshit and give it life. There are people at work who are consumed by negativity and constantly want to talk/vent about problems at work. Don’t engage! The more you talk about it or hear about it, the more life you give it and the more it will bother you.
4. Keep good company and stay away from the drama queens/kings. There are people at work who make mountains out of everything. What’s worst, they feel obligated to share their thoughts with everyone. Keep these people away. They are life suckers. If these drama queens/kings happen to be a work friend, just let them know you’d rather not talk about work BS and change the subject. If they are friends, they should understand. Talk to people who are light and have shared interests.
5. Stay low key and off the radar. In the case of your boss, it is irrelevant whether you like/dislike or get along with him or her. The important thing to remember is that he/she is your BOSS. It is always to your advantage to stay on this person’s good side. Remember this person has the power to fire your ass. Being on the good side doesn’t mean you have to suck up. You just have to not do the things that will piss him/her off; like: complaining all the time, asking for a million and one things that make you more ‘comfortable’ at work, being a loud mouth, and not doing your job. If you do your job, keep to yourself, offer solutions from time to time, don’t ask for too much and be friendly, you will be on the good side. In the case of your colleagues, don’t share too much personal information, be friendly, and don’t draw attention to yourself (like getting drunk and dancing like a stripper at a work function). This way you won’t give them anything to talk about; other than, that guy is quiet.
6. Maintain healthy boundaries. The workplace is definitely a place where you develop relationships with people. I think it’s awesome to make friends and have a social circle. The key thing is to maintain healthy boundaries. Once you cross over to the ‘friendship’ side, then things can get awkward. Make sure you establish clear boundaries with your workplace friends. This means keeping social time social and work time work-related.
7. Have a sense of humour. This is the key to surviving workplace bullshit. I am a bit of a smartass so it’s easy for me to make light of a situation. Some folks are serious. Here’s a suggestion for the serious folks. Read Dilbert comics and make people at work one of the characters, then view all your work situations as though you are in the comic. I’ve checked out on many boring (useless) meetings by doing this. My only caution is to make sure you stop yourself from laughing out too loud in a meeting.