The bad, the ugly of workplace relationships
It is possible to survive the stress of the workplace and self-actualise.

Dear Editor,

We all are dependent on an income to survive. Whether this income is derived from being employed or owning our own business, we are not independent without this revenue. Some of us will always be employed by an individual/corporation, thereby fulfilling someone else’s dream.

While others will find their dream career and never ‘work’ a day in their life, money makes the world go around.

The workplace is a melting pot of people, attitudes, talents, and characters. How does one manoeuvre themself through this maze?

Our entrance into the world of work begins at 18 because at this age we are considered to be adults. However, this was not the case for some of our parents as grade nine at 15 years old was the end of all-age school back then. The advent of secondary level education added grades 10 and 11 and now we have 12 and 13. Those who are so inclined will go on to university, either full-time or part-time. After high school or university, some will take the first job they succeed in getting — take what you get, until you get what you want. Until then, though, you will have to learn how to tolerate a plethora of behaviours and mean personalities.

Relationships are difficult because people differ. Some are simple and easy to get along with, others are cold and callous, and then there are those who will display a little of both. Whatever the type you happen to encounter, you have to make a decision, sometimes on the spot, regarding how you will interact with them. The company hierarchy dictates the relationship, and just as how we were not allowed to choose our parents, we are not allowed to choose our managers. This can be good or bad, depending on how it is viewed.

I have had the privilege of working with personalities of all shades. Some have left a lasting impression and others a bitter taste, quite like the movie Horrible Bosses.

The thing that I can never understand, though, is that the manager to whom you report, directly or indirectly, who supposedly comes “highly trained” has the worst or no people skills. Most, if not all, are aware that they have this striking deficiency, but are seemingly unbothered by it or how they are perceived.

Many times it is the person who came up through the ranks who becomes the manager from hell. Empathy becomes a curse word to them. They behave totally detached, despite the fact that their training came with at least an introductory course in psychology. They are just crude and crass without reason.

It is rather interesting that the vast majority of those who rise to the position of a manager will tell you a jaw-dropping story of how they came from humble beginnings. They will woo the interviewer on Profile to tears, and then mistreat the people below their rank.

Sandra Currie

This behaviour is indicative of the field slave-turned-house slave or dish towel-turned-tablecloth mentality that creates division. Ineffective managers typically don’t enjoy a relationship grounded in mutual respect with their employees. A good leader does the work, listens to their employees, learns constantly, and respects the employees they manage. Without these basics, employees will have a difficult time giving their manager respect and the potential for a great relationship is ruined.

The workplace can be a very stressful and toxic environment because of the people employed there. Retirement comes after working for at least 50 years of one’s adult life, sometimes in the aforementioned atmosphere.

During those years of work, you will have to pick your battles to overcome the struggle. Study the characters with whom you are forced to interact. Focus on your peace of mind, it is of utmost importance. Sometimes the office is a place of escape for some, and those who admire the wallow will always create the sty, so pay keen attention.

People are always in character despite the behaviour being displayed, so allow the script to play out. It’s always telling. The word terminal in terminal degree can be utterly misleading as it could indicate that below the surface is the presence of a metastatic cancer or an unresolved trauma that has become cankerous. This terminal condition has now become a part of the individual. Be sober and recognise it for what it is.

Although there are many horror stories to scare you to death, it is possible to survive the workplace and self-actualise. Remember Desiderata, “Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit... And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Sandra Gayle

sandragayle888@gmail.com

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