As some of us prepare for a long holiday weekend, let us reflect on the positive fact that we currently have a job during such an unprecedented, unpredictable time. Now let us have a moment of silence for the co-worker we secretly wish would retire or get a new job far, far away before the new work week begins.
When I entered the workforce as a college graduate, fresh out of school, into a new city and state bursting with energy, I had no idea what to expect. I was honestly just excited and grateful to be starting a new adventure that would make my mother proud! My very first day, I strutted my stuff into the office wearing a navy blue suit with brown pumps. I thought I was looking good and professional! I wish you could have seen what the old people in the office were wearing!! Professional?? I mean some of them didn’t even look like they owned an iron! Then came lunch time, everyone ate at their desk. I’d never experienced this before. It was mind-boggling to me – why didn’t people want to fellowship or eat together? Then I remembered, oh, everybody ain’t (yes ain’t) for everybody! As months passed and I got a chance to interact and learn everyone’s personality, I began to slowly understand why people stayed in their cubicles.
Of Course I Wanted to Know Your Life Story
Have you ever met a person who consistently gives you way too much information when you ask a simple question? Or a person that changes your whole attitude and leaves you hating you even asked or mentioned anything, after you finished talking to them? Oh you haven’t? Maybe that person is you! Here’s my theory. We work on average 8 hours a day with these strangers – people who have a past we didn’t live, problems we don’t share, and conditions we don’t understand. We go home to spend roughly 5 hours with our families before it’s time to go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. So, we are literally spending more time with these folks than our family. So naturally, people are compelled to treat their coworkers as family, and share just a little bit too much information. But what do you do when you’re tired of listening?
Break up with Chatty Kathy
One of the worst things you can do in the office environment is continue listening to someone when you would rather not. Why? Because they will just keep coming back! They will follow you to the breakroom, to the bathroom, and all the way to your car talking about this and that. Meanwhile they never even asked, “How are you today?” These type of people are fine with being average, doing the bare minimum, and receiving that direct deposit on time. You think they care that you did 70% of the work and they only did 30%? No indeed not.
There’s generally a nice way to tell someone you don’t want to chat. The problem is, we don’t want to hurt their feelings. As much as it pains us to see them coming, we sit there and listen, offer advice, and hope they will do better. They won’t!! Stop forcing it! Tell Kathy, hey as much as you would love to chat you need to get back to the money and do your job. It’s ok. Will she call you something other than a child of God? Maybe. Don’t worry about that. Work is work; every coworker will not be your friend or understand your work ethic. But don’t change because they don’t understand. Work smart and build a reputation that will land you an ideal spot when the Baby-Boomers roll out!! Or, you could always take a chance and play the lottery.
Over-Worked and Under-Valued
A good question that comes to mind when people have so much time to talk to you is, how do they get any work done? I know we are granted the same resources but we also have the same amount of time. Some people will work their butts off avoiding work instead of actually doing the work. I am convinced that some people even strategize ways to respond to their managers when asked about the work they’re not doing. And then, nothing happens to them. They keep coming in late, leaving early, and flying under the radar. Why is that? I don’t get it and quite frankly I don’t think it’s fair!
Being a woman is hard enough, with the way some men look down on us or still maintain the “better than women” mentality. We get labeled all sorts of things – messy, catty, sneaky, jealous, back-stabbing, unstable, oh and my favorite – emotional! But being a black woman, now that’s an extra challenge! They call us bitter, angry, ghetto, hostile, and always assume they have to bite their tongues in fear we will pull the race card! But one thing our counterparts may not understand about black women is that we feel the need to be excellent; we have to be outstanding when everyone is mediocre at best. We are nurturing and don’t mind helping a fellow peer, but many times that is not reciprocated. People will harbor valuable information in fear that you will look better than them or try to take their job. Oh and then you attended an HBCU, you couldn’t possibly have learned anything at that institution! Yet, we sit together in the same conference room, working the same job, for the same agency, getting the same pay!! Being open minded is a choice, one many people unknowingly never choose.
Attitudes & Altitudes
You remember in grade school when your teacher told you that your attitude will determine your altitude? How is it that people with some of the worst attitudes and mental states end up in such high positions? How do you spend a 30+ year career with the most negative thoughts, actions, and reactions and continue to do it each day? Isn’t it draining? I find it is much easier to smile rather than frown, offer a compliment before criticism, and consider how words or actions will help or hurt someone. One of my favorite managers once told me, the first thing a good leader should learn is how important their subordinates are; if it were not for them, there would be no need to lead. People want to feel appreciated, valued, like what they are doing matters. That change someone’s entire perception of their job and their attitude towards going to work.
Don’t Stop Being Great
One thing people cannot take away from you is your opinion and the truth! So continue to be great! Even if you don’t get that job you applied or interviewed for, don’t let that discourage you. God may be putting together something greater for you that even your enemies couldn’t imagine! I know it can get tiring working so hard when others aren’t, but don’t stoop to their level and fit in – Stand Out!! You are something else, you are awesome, and you deserve all the greatness that is coming to you. Prepare to receive it! Because when one door closes, you never know what other doors, windows, and skylights may open up!
Be Bold, Be Fly, and by all means, Be You!