x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Dear Workplace Doctor, Sometimes I just don't care about my job

Dear Workplace Doctor, I know that usually change has to come from within, but my boss is unapproachable and I cannot figure out how to deal with her. What is your advice for this situation?

Illustration of desert island man and boat. istockphoto.com
Illustration of desert island man and boat. istockphoto.com

Dear Workplace Doctor, I know that usually change has to come from within, but my boss is unapproachable and I cannot figure out how to deal with her. What is your advice for this situation? I feel like my only choice is to stop caring about work. JPS, Abu Dhabi

 

Dear JPS, will a decision to stop caring have a happy ending? Perhaps some of my own stories will provide some food for thought.

Many a year ago, I thought I would be sacked. The story in my mind all lined up; people weren't speaking to me, the atmosphere around me was tense and the very last presentation I made had attracted negative reviews. Should I just stay in my office and await the inevitable axe to fall? Ashamedly I did try that, but it became stressful in itself. So I chose to explore the world of other possibilities.

Could it be possible that my last presentation was thought-provoking and the negative reviews were fears converted into reaction? Could my busy schedule be deterring people from interacting with me? Was I mirroring non-existent tension, and thereby reinforcing the philosophy that thoughts become things?

I then acted as if possibility were reality. I opened my time to others, invited discussion at any time, and ensured a laugh or two flowed. I gently revisited the meeting topic whenever I could and offered to assist those with fear through the change.

The results spoke for themselves - I received an accolade one week later for having the courage to make the presentation, and to be one of the employees bringing most value to the company. What a difference a week can make.

Another experience comes to mind too. I believed I must have done or said something wrong to a colleague as he walked past me in an abrupt fashion. I instantly went into silent battle opposing him, gathering gossip troops to strengthen the battlefield. I stayed in battle mode moving from blame to suspicion, making up every reason under the sun why he wasn't speaking to me - was he after my job? Inwardly I fumed, and my story became more inflamed and far-fetched. I finally figured out what I had done. I had walked up an imaginary ladder of inference, rung by rung, flaming chaos, rumour and untruth.

Only then did I realise that it was all in my head with no evidence at all. It was time to reach the peak of the ladder that the trainer Beth High had shared with me, moving beyond wasting energy, into a space of investing in reality. I decided to stop the story, and share an observatory statement with no judgement while producing a different outcome. I addressed my colleague: "Bob, you look upset, just wanted to check in to see if all is fine". In search of reason, uncharted treasures were discovered.

JPS, my life is not your life. But by turning your back on genuine care, you ensure an unhappy ending to this matter. What better choice could be made?

The doctor's prescription

Care. Even if it hurts.

 

Deb Nicol, managing director of Dubai-based Business En Motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at debbie.nicol@businessenmotion.com for the workplace doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague