When Things Become Unbearable

When you’re getting up in the morning to prepare for work and you’re really preparing for battle.  You hate it, you dread it, you can’t stand it, you want to quit but you can’t afford it…it all feels impossible.  You become inward, you talk less, you become paranoid, doubt is constant, you think it’s you, everyone else seems fine, no one wants me here, I’m doing the wrong job, these people think I’m weird, I don’t fit. Everything is worse and everything is bottled up.  There’s too much to do, not enough time, everyone is pulling at me.  I get it – I’ve been there more times than I realize.  One thing consistently got me INTO these places – I closed down and stopped talking to people about how I was feeling.  I believed the negativity that no one wanted to listen to me whine and no one wanted to hear my woes. 

One thing consistently got me OUT of those places – talking.  I think I heard someone call it ‘Talk Therapy’.  It’s up there with aromatherapy, shopping therapy, movie therapy, and our favorite sugar therapy.  EVERYONE needs a chance to vent, whine, complain… get it off our chests.   Think of it as an onion – the outer layers are the annoyances, the moles we grow into mountains.  If you can get those out of the way, they reveal the bigger issues that are the real issues. Maybe we don’t feel valued, maybe we are in the wrong position, maybe the office is too toxic – you can’t even look at those unless you vent and whine and complain.

Talk therapy. People see different parts of us and different parts of our situation – they can provide real insight. Or bullshit – it’s up to you.  It’s not only therapists (although they’re pretty good at it).  Even water cooler conversations can lead you into some great conversations. 

Example: If you are not sure if you’re the only one frustrated – use open ended conversation starters….  “I was surprised at how <<the boss>> handled that call yesterday.”  You don’t have to say you were happy or sad or disappointed or disgusted.  Find out what the other people feel – the more people in the group the better.  Your use of ‘surprised’ will be the perfect opener to make the others feel like you agree with them – whatever they feel.  You will most likely find people who agree with you that you can commiserate with – it will help BOTH of you feel a lot better.  And maybe you’ll find a new friend at work – the best possible outcome.

Expectations and Communication

Expectations can be good, but I’ve seen many times when they are a core problem. 

When your boss thinks you can code the next rocket into space, but you’ve only learned how to start the coffee maker….When you think you should be promoted but your boss thinks you’ve only barely learned to do your current job on your own….When you’re expected to answer 100 phone calls an hour, there’s only you, and each call lasts 5 minutes.….When you’re expected to smile every moment of your day, but you are coming down with the flu….You were hired to be the project manager but now you’re the personal assistant to the Vice President.

I could go on – these are all real and I’ve seen every one of them.

Communication, communication, communication.  It is the most important thing we need, and it is the most difficult thing to do.

If the expectations are off, then you must speak up.  Every day that they remain out of line, the gap widens as bitterness and the feelings of unfairness grow.  An easy first step is to write up what you see.  Be careful to use phrases such as “I believe” and “what I’ve seen” because you do not know everything, and you do not see everything.  Sleep on it, make sure there are no ‘very’, ‘never’, or ‘always’ and remove all the strong adjectives – they make everything harder. Then, send it off asking for some time on their calendar.  This method gives the other party time to adjust to what you want to say and what you want them to hear.  Most likely, they’re experiencing frustration too, so they need a moment to get past their own issues and begin to problem solve with you.

When you’re the most frustrated, it’s pretty much guaranteed to mean that there is critical information you don’t have.  This critical information will make everything make sense.  And that’s what you’re hoping to get.  In the process of finding out more information, the expectations will be identified, and most likely will get adjusted to become closer to reality.

In some cases, you’ll find out where your own lines are.  Maybe that VP is a narcissistic and you need to find a new job.  Maybe you’re the only one answering the calls because everyone else quit as your management is not concerned with your well-being.  It is always best to find these things out quickly especially as it will help reduce your own bitterness.

Communication, communication, communication.  It’s everything.