How Do I Rise Above This?

Question:

I work in a small office with mainly women who all get on and would rather chat than work. These people don’t directly report to me but I am a manager and I come to work to work! I chat sometimes, but very rarely as my work ethic is to give 100% to my employer. The directors take no notice of the continuous chatter of those who bitch about each other one minute and then are all smiles in the next instance. I know that they do not like me. They gossip, as a part-time lady has told me to be careful. It is getting so bad that I want to leave but my salary is substantial and my gut instinct is “don’t let these people run you out of a good job.” I have looked at other stories and printed off a caption that says “try and block your coworkers out and get on with the job in hand.” Why can’t I just rise above it and go home and not think about it again instead of lying awake at night and waking up in the morning thinking about these people who dislike me. My family says it is jealousy, but what for? I told my boss and he says ‘ignore it, and he doesn’t want me to leave. Have you any advice as its making me ill. Many thanks.

Signed,

Thinking About Being Disliked


Answer:

Dear Thinking About Being Disliked:

You are physically present in a small office and you sense that you are not liked. And that is not comfortable. The only clue you provide as to why you are an object of gossip and disliked is that you don’t “waste’ your time as do most of the women who would rather chat than work. From your brief note about your family attributing the reason you are disliked to jealousy, I assume you also are a woman but not one of the women who chat rather than work. That diagnosis by your family might be correct. Perhaps the gang of women whom you say dislike you, are able to feel OK when they can label you as not Ok because you are a manager and have higher pay re is a hint that you too are a woman. Every individual, whether stated so or not, has three psychological needs that affect her/his well-being: inclusion, power, and affection. In your case, although you are present in the office, you don’t feel like you belong. You feel excluded. Your status of manager elevates you above that of the chatting women; consequently, they can diminish that status possibly to be badmouthed thus making you feel of little importance to them. You sense this and have become obsessed with worry about being disliked. You say, “It is getting so bad that I want to leave.” But you don’t spell out what it is that is “so bad.” This leaves you in more of a flight than a fight it position. You’ve even spoken with your boss about leaving a well-paying job. Short of voting with your feet, several overlapping options are: 1. Toughen up-acknowledge that sticks and stones, but that words and faces can’t hurt you. Ignore them. Find your need to be liked from one or two within your office or from the outside. 2. Ignore but modify your “all work and no play.” Discover ways to think positively about those who chat rather than work. See and praise what they do well. Realize that they need to chat to survive the boredom and distaste for their lower pay jobs. 3. Confront those who dislike you. Ask why and learn if you can modify your behavior. 4. Engage your boss in a genuine lean management-high productivity effort. Such an effort is only successful when those who chat rather than work see such an effort as benefiting them, both in pay, benefits, and increasing their job security. Lean management entails seeing what the other guys are doing and realizing their fate hinges on the bottom line. Sometimes comes from upper management warning that it’s put up, put out, or shut down. Other times that comes from below because of a few with a work-ethic and championship mindset. I’ve worked in extended team building plant-wide that transforms attitude and processes. No doubt, you can decide if any of these options apply to your office, or they may spark other ideas of that can bring your office together, such as an office wide effort to acquire what you can’t obtain separately; a beautification of your work area, winning a group trip to a vacation spot, competing with another work group for quality improvement or a community-wide volunteer effort, etc. What won’t change lying awake at night or hating to go to work tomorrow, is allowing “I am disliked” to play over and over in your head. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way to suggest that good things don’t just happen. They are earned by feeling discomfort enough that we engage with others to make work easier and more effective.

William Gorden