I was in a workshop today and a colleague explained the way they’d made it through a rough patch at work. Particularly around feeling patronised by senior colleagues.
She decided that she would see her role as ‘being of service to the work’, and not serving other people.
I guess it’s a bit like ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ or ‘play the ball’ or ‘work the problem’. By moving the interpersonal relationships out of the first priority spot and concentrating on the work itself, she said she has changed her outlook and enjoys work much more. She also said her work improved, and the improvement has been noticed by some of those she once felt patronised by.
That sounds like a pretty great way of looking at it.
It’s not easy, and depending on how you’re feeling about work for lots of other reasons, it might sound absurd.
If it’s impossible to even imagine this kind of thinking about work, is there some other area of your life where a difficult personal interaction is making the whole situation unpleasant and increasing your distress?
My first reaction was ‘what a wonderful idea’. Very closely followed by ‘but my role is so insignificant that it doesn’t apply to me’. I think my resistance is not about the role, I think it’s deeper and about my sense of my own worth.
A few hours after that workshop I went to a work social event and was trying to mingle and meet different people, but when they asked what I do I really had to concentrate hard to say ‘I’m at reception’.
Concentrate hard not to say ‘I’m only at reception’, ‘I just do reception’ because only and just are so limiting.
Concentrate hard not to add an excuse or a future plan to get out of reception. That’s a bit desperate.
If I don’t feel some kind of strength, pride or even ease in what I do, why would any else give me their respect or attention? I may as well just have avoided the function altogether.
It’s been a very long time since I had a job title that I was proud of or that was obvious enough that I felt it didn’t require some kind of explanation. I used to think I wanted to get back into something that was easy to say ‘I’m a [……]’ and that would make me feel happier.
What if I felt happier because of all sorts of other reasons, including I believe in my own fundamental right to be happy, respected and worthy of attention. I wonder what it would feel like to say ‘I’m at reception’ or ‘I do reception’ or ‘I’m a receptionist’ if I didn’t think my job title was the only way to be valued, or that value only came from external sources?
That’s before we even get to my feelings of being a fraud even when I do like my job title.
What kind of guts would it take for me to reply ‘I’m in service of the work’?