Reformed Worry Wart

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a worry wart  label:

I am a reformed worry wart. At work, I try to be mindful of what I say around my coworkers, and I have been mindful not to let my worries get the best of me. Yesterday, everyone around me responded to an email we all received. I said something to everyone, which I suppose is not my usual concern or deals with my work. Everyone told me not to worry about it, and they said it was none of my concern. Actually what had happened was that I was relaying a concern about the exact same topic from one of our colleagues, with whom I spoke to over the phone less than 5 minutes before. This dialogue made me realize that I have been branded a worry wart. How do I overcome this branding? I wasn’t even worried at all about the topic.

Signed, Reformed Worry Wart

Dear Reformed Worry Wart:

How did you get the worry wart label? Probably because your upbringing focused on bad things that might happen, and to the extent that you learned to be cautious of genuinely potential harm that was good. But to the extent it programmed you to see and voice concern about worries around every corner, it caused others to see you as one who views the world as trouble waiting to happen.

Sooooo you came to be know as a Worry Wart! But you have started to take medicine for that; you now label yourself a reformed worry wart. However to simply say, “I won’t think about a potentially worrisome matter” will not work any more than it works to say, “I will not think of a white horse.” Those who decide to quit smoking sometimes can do so cold-turkey, but others find it helpful to substitute a lemon drop. What might be a substitute for lamenting over this and that?

Perhaps you might create criteria that ranges from ignore it to act quickly, such as:

· It’s none of my business, so don’t sweat it–put a lemon drop in your mouth. · It’s annoying and distracting, but not a real work problem, for example the wastebasket was not emptied so leave a note for the cleaning crew or if Anna cracks her gum, wear ear plugs or tape record it and play it back to her.  This something interferes with getting the job done efficiently and effectively, so more should be done than to worry aloud; it is worth investigating how it might be corrected.

· When this kind of thing occurs or is about to happen, worry quickly enough to get out of the way, or to shout fire! Yet another approach is to earn a different name, such as cheer-leader, waste-cutter, or green-thumb. How? By focusing on one of these kinds of actions. To become known as a cheer-leader, you need to learn several cheers. Kids become cheerleaders by singling out the letters T E A M/ give me a T, give me an E, give me A, give me an M/ put your hands together and let’s hear it for TEAM, TEAM, TEAM. Sounds silly for the workplace?

Sure, but you can create a cheer or two that applies to your office and you might post it on your desk. he point is that to repeat, repeat, repeat is what we become known for. Or if you want to be known as a waste-cutter, look around and undoubtedly you will see wasted supplies, wasted lighting, wasted time, and wasted energy. Make the topic of waste a conversation with your coworkers and then suggest what you might do to cut waste at your next staff meeting. Green-thumb? Become plant happy in your own workspace. To the degree it is appropriate add a plant or two and/or bring a rubber tree plant in for the receptionist’s work area. Start a contest by giving a small plant to several of your coworkers and see whose can grow the most in six weeks.

Get my point. How do you become known for anything? Your focus and action shapes your name. I will be interested to learn in a few weeks, what you have done to change for what you are known. The very fact that I end each of my answers with the same signature sentence, helps shape for what I am known: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden