I’ve Quit Guilt & So Should You

guilt

I gave it up about 18 months ago. If you haven’t already done this, give it a try it is liberating.

I was a 3 pack a day guilter so it wasn’t easy.

I always had that feeling that whatever was wrong was my fault somehow. It comes high school where I was bullied everyday then moving straight into a job where the company culture was to sit the staff down and tell us that we should do anything they told us to because no one else would hire us. I already knew from school; comply and conform is the only option for acceptance. Doh, talk about negative reinforcement!

Closed doors, must be talking about me. Something goes wrong on a project that I’m only slightly connected with, must have been something I’ve done. CCB in bad mood, yup, must have been something I said or did. It got to the point where guilt was starting to control my life.

My light bulb moment came after a particularly trying day at work where it was announced that “not everyone will be going” to a long awaited event that I was a critical part of the planning for. I immediately thought; Well, I should take one for the team, I’ll talk to the boss tomorrow and tell him to leave me out. Then I went home and got ready for my walk and CCB got cranky because he wanted me to go and do something with him, he didn’t need me to do it, it was just that what I wanted to do wasn’t about him*

So I went for my walk feeling guilty and then it hit me… why am I feeling this way? I deserve to get fit; I have the right to want what I want.

Then I thought about the work situation. I didn’t notice any of the boys volunteering to step back, so why should I? I’m a key part of this team and I should be at this event. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to get this up and running. Bugger it, I’m not having that chat with the boss tomorrow and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

So that is the day I gave up guilt.

I feel lighter and strangely more confident when I reply “That’s a shame, what is being done to resolve the issue?” instead of immediately trying to find a way that I messed up and jumping in to help “fix” it.

Guilt is a highly addictive, nasty, destructive habit that is bad for your mental health. Giving up is hard, but not giving up is worse. Take a hint from Tay Tay** and Shake It Off, Shake It Off.

* He’s working on that

** I wonder how different my high school years might have been if Ms Swift rather than Mr Farnham was the soundtrack!

Resiting The Urge To Crack

frustrated

Today I’m frustrated beyond belief. I know it will pass but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to crack it. I’ve even gone as far as typing the email with a sting and a swing, professional right? Yeah, I know, I won’t hit send; I’ve applied the cup of tea theory* but still haven’t calmed down.

In any other circumstance I’d get rid of this service provider. They rarely deliver on time or to brief and to top it off when they don’t like what I’m asking them to do, they go over my head to my boss who promptly rolls over. The problem is they are part of the “family”, a sister company and what is worse, based in the same offices as the rest of the team – I’m not.

It doesn’t help that the MD of this company and I are both control freaks who don’t like being told what to do. I don’t think it’s chauvinism at work, I don’t get that vibe, more a not invented here syndrome.

My concern is also that at some point I know the companies will merge and I could be seen as this person’s employee.   My boss rolling over reinforces this guys impression that my direction can be over turned and that I’m not a valued member of the team. I think that frustrates me more than anything else.

Over the years I’ve faced up to a lot of difficulties that working remotely throws at you. Building relationships over email is difficult, missing out on the tiny details about projects that office chatter gives you, those little nuances that lubricate navigating the business. For the most part these have been overcome with time and patience, but this, I’ve applied every strategy I have in my toolbox and nothing works.

Sigh, it is what it is I guess, so I’ll just put my big girl pants on and deal with it.

Rant over

*Always have a cup of tea before replying. Or if you prefer, “Scritzy’s Coke Rule” works just as well.

All Aboard The CC Train

It happened again this morning!  Yet another flag waving, look at me, I know what’s going on everyone email has shown up.email train

Dear Colleagues, I know you want to do a good job, I know you want everyone else to know that you are doing a good job, but for the love all that is holy, stop CCing in the world!

Why when I pose a simple question the reply to my email comes back with an extra six people looped in?  People that aren’t even remotely interested: remotely involved yes, interested nooo.  Some of these people even pay us to work this out so they don’t have to know about it.  That is our job!

Please, if I ask you a question, just answer me… if I’d thought anyone else needed to know I’d have included them.  I promise no one will miss out on any vital information.  I’m good at this, really, cross my heart.  I’ve even got a couple of bits of paper to back that up.

I’ve tried responding without hitting the reply all, but without fail replies comes back with everyone looped in again. Why?  Do you think I’m trying to hide something?  Do you think you’ve uncovered the great secret of my ineptness?  Do you think I’m just waiting to pounce on you for some mistake? It’s none of the above.  I just want to get my job done without annoying anyone.

For the record I think this practice makes people look needy and insecure.  It drives me insane (It drives my boss nuts to when his inbox  is filled with stuff he knows I’ll just deal with). Lord knows what your boss thinks (Well, actually I do because I asked if it was a directive from him; here’s a hint, it isn’t).

So, I’m begging you,  if we all promise to act like responsible, trustworthy professionals can we please pull the CC train into the station and disembark?  Pretty Please?……

Why I Heart Working With Gen Y

They are always playing with their phones, they don’t pay attention, they aren’t committed, blah, blah, blah.Gen y

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the complaints and for the most part, I don’t agree.

I like working with people younger than me; they make me better at my job, more open to new ideas.  Perhaps I’ve just been blessed, but the “kids” I work with are smart, funny, unafraid and very generous with their knowledge.

Sure, they don’t hesitate to text you at odd hours and have very blurred boundaries when it comes to work and personal lives.  Let’s face it these are people who have always had the world on demand in their pockets.  It’d be pretty strange if they didn’t see life and work in a different light to anyone who knows what a typewriter is or found it exciting to use a fax machine for the first time!

I love how secure and confident they are in themselves.  While older workers tend to hold on to jobs longer*, younger workers aren’t afraid to change not only jobs, but entire careers and industries to find what they really want to do.

People my age and older can be more prone to keeping information and skills to themselves. Having  started work in the 1980s recession and worked through every downturn since. I understand how the pressure to hold on to a job can lead to someone to resist sharing knowledge to remain relevant.   However, my younger colleagues just don’t have this fear.  I learn so much from them all the time.

Younger staff don’t have the same geographic barriers.  They see no reason why they can’t get their work done from anywhere in the world at any time.  This is an amazingly freeing way to see life.  Some of my colleagues grumble about this and see it as being irresponsible or not committed.  I like the fact that someone has the tools to be free to pursue their dreams regardless of where they might be located.  I plan to use this lesson in a few years when I decide to travel almost fulltime as well as maintain a career.

Just like every generation before them, Gen Y just want to be happy and they don’t hesitate to change their circumstances to achieve this.  So, instead of berating them for their outlook on life, I think we can learn a lot from them, both personally and professionally.  I know I do.

* I’m not knocking this, experience and continuity is vital for companies.  I just think it’s important to remember that it’s not always good for the people providing it if they are unhappy or feeling trapped.

Insecure Co-workers & Conflict: A Tale Of Two Sides

Co-workers, love ‘em or hate ‘em it’s hard to avoid them.

So what do you do when you work with someone who is insecure, fixates on tiny problems (that they must tell the world that they found) and won’t move on long after an issue has been thrashed out?

confictAs I work from home I’m normally insulated from any office hysterics caused by  Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome or TDES**.

My usual protocol is to sigh, roll my eyes at the offending email and get a cup of tea while I formulate a measured, non-threatening response while asking one of the cats what on earth was going through their mind when they decided to;

  1. Pen the email instead of call me
  2. CC everyone under the sun including the boss over something so minor

However, I recently found myself in a situation where I did allow a person to get under my skin face to face.  I won’t go into details except to say I believe it was a complete misinterpretation of my actions, it certainly was of my intent.  I was measured and (I think) rational  in my response until my integrity was attacked.  That’s kind of my hill to die on.

Now I know that this person is pretty emotional. Normally I make allowances for them, as outside of work I quite like the guy and I also understand from personal experience just how irrational insecurity can make you.

So, what do you do when someone attacks you and then can’t or won’t provide examples of the behaviour?  My response was to continue to push for one, that only served to make them more defensive.  In the end I did something I rarely do, I tried to justify my perceived actions on one of my offences.  This was also a mistake as it gave them the opportunity to tell me that they didn’t believe me.  It was at this point I said there was nothing more to be discussed and walked away.  Neither party was abusive or rude during our robust debate, but it wasn’t our finest hours either.

So, what would I do differently?

  • I’d have stuck with my original plan of discussing the issue at a later date when we were both cooler headed
  • I would have been less blunt when I called them out on this issue
  • I’d have had a clear strategy on the formal move forward position*

What did I learn?

  • Someone’s perception is their reality and it is very had to change
  • Remember who you are talking to and respond accordingly
  • Walking away after making arrangements to discuss at a different time is usually always the smarter move long term
  • Emotional responses are not always logical
  • Putting the event behind you and treating the person professionally will help restore at least a working relationship even if the personal relationship is destroyed
  • My boss will back me 100% when I’m right (he’s awesome)

Do I regret what happened?  To a degree, but I don’t regret defending myself.  I know that in a year from now they’ll still be harbouring a grudge and trying to make my professional life difficult wherever possible and that isn’t ideal. However, I’m a big girl and fortunately they aren’t in a position to do any real damage to me.

Any tips on how I could have handled this differently or what you’ve done in the same situation

  * This all took place after a work social function. I asked for the perceived issues with my performance to be tabled in a formal manner so they could be addressed openly.  The response was they “might decide to in the future”.  I’m not a fan of anyone holding something over my head as such, so I’ve already flagged the discussion with the powers that be.

 ** Credit to Mr Money Mustache for creating TDES