Thursday, May 31, 2007

Work Anxiety

It's amazing how much stress is due to people's work lives. Now, I don't have hard statistics ... or even soft ones, for that matter. All I have are observation and experience.

There's been a lot of stress in my life since 2007 began. I can see that a huge chunk of it is due to my workplace. I've tried adapting to the culture, but it seems that I'll never be able to adapt enough.

Why? Because, as many inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and injustices as I've tried to ignore over the past year or so, there are some that I feel that I have to speak on!

And therein lies the problem.

I've got a co-worker who (correction: former co-worker, now) whose tales are very similar to mine, although neither of us knew it at the time. She's now been fired for "fighting." She says that she let a lot of comments slide, but there were some things that she had to speak on!

And therein lies the pink slip.

I guess this is supposed to scare me. It doesn't, but it makes me anxious as all hell. And, to be really honest, it saddens me that human-beings treat each other so poorly. Relative positions of power go to people's heads and any lowly employee who dares to challenge their ideas must be made an example of.

So, now I am fighting! I'm still fighting for the hundreds of dollars in reimbursement that I expected from the work-related trip I never wanted to take. I've got a meeting with the CFO next week about that one.

While I'm glad that he responded to my request so quickly, the fact is that he's "one of them." No, I don't mean white people - although I think he is. No, I mean that I can't allow myself to hope too hard that he might be a fair-minded individual, as opposed to a group-think participant.

So, as I prepare for a meeting with a half dozen people that "out-rank" me, I find that almost every minute of every day is soaked in anxiety. And, no matter hard I try, I can't seem to dry off.

I actually found myself spontaneously meditating (or something similar), earlier, while trying to release the butterflies in my stomach. The best (productive) approach, though, seems to be finding the flaws in my opponents' arguments - looking at them as weapons and my verbal skills as fighting skills. Knowing that I've got a decent chance against my opponents (even though they're literally paying the judges), helps put my mind and my guts at-ease. Sometimes.

But I'm caught up in a cycle, now. I've complained about the "wrong" stuff, so they're putting pressure and additional work on me to stop me from complaining. Sadly, that just pisses me off and makes me complain more... and the cycle continues.

In a lot of cases, I've found that reason and rationality result in very limited success, since a lot of folks have already made up their minds about an issue before they ever hear the other side. Hopefully, that won't be the case in my upcoming verbal and professional battles, but I'm going to fight them regardless.

I know I could just quit and walk away, but I just can't take seeing or knowing that certain people are catching so much more hell and being held to a higher standard than certain other people.

And therein lies the pink slip. Maybe.


Anonymous said...

In my experience I've learned that sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease ... it gets replaced.

I understand why you want to fight the good fight. But in the big picture is it worth it? Especially if the situation is causing you so much stress. Stress is a killer, man!

For me, my big picture includes my mortgage, and my kid's future. When things bother me, I let them know and if nothing changes then I'll make a note of it and silently begin looking for more suitable arrangements.

I have no doubt that your productive approach is quite effective ... I'd hate to have to match verbal skills with you (seriously) but if the opponent doesn't use logic AND has power over you then you may have lost before you even begin speaking.

West said...

Stress is killer. No doubt. That's why I've got a plan to divest myself of this particular source in relatively short order.

In the meantime, I've only so much tolerance for people who repeatedly try to blame me for their own poor communication skills.

I can deal with criticism, but this is something else.

All that said, I'll chew on what you said a few more time to make sure I got all the flavor out of it. Thanks for the feedback. Really.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck, West!

I hope you get justice.

It's hard to know when one is putting up a good fight or putting up a losing fight. Recently at school, I was shafted by an academic policy. I'm still bitter about it and I fought it to its end and still things didn't turn out my way. I could still take the issue to the Provost but I have a feeling that I'd be doing more harm than good and maybe it'd be better if I took my punishment. It's not fair and I despise this situation. It's made me anxious and angry.

I hope your situation ends up better than mine. Sadly sometimes the good fight is not the winning fight. I still wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

As Michael Jackson once said, "you are not alone." Work is the cause of much pf America's stress. If it's not the middle managers trying to get a name on the backs of the line-staff then it's ececutive staff reminding us whose boss. The fact is we all know who the boss is; we are clear it's not us everytime we look at our pay stubs.

Angie said...

Do what you can while you're there - but look for other options. Maybe think of this job as a stepping stone, and bide your time while looking for the better job.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the fight we can't see the forest for the trees.

New mantra! "I'm to talented and valuable for this bullshit. I'll learn all I can and take it with me to my next job."

But get your travel reimbursement even if you have to brandish a weapon! : )

Anonymous said...

I refuse. I REFUSE to let my job stress me out, and run my life. I'm not killin' myself for these folks. HA! I'd sooner die than.....erra...ummmm, well, anyway.....

Woo woo woo! And I hope you get whats owed you! (I'm referring to the money, just in case it wasn't clear)