Why is it that when I want to talk about something personal, the person I am talking to has to redirect the conversation into why his or her life is that much more difficult? Is that what our lives have become – waiting to talk about ourselves so much that we forget the conversation we are in? It is one thing to use your experiences to explain how you grew from something or how you became a better person (or worse), but to talk about how much your ex hurt you with the sole purpose of seeking pity presents a much different narrative – one that is far less genuine and, to be honest, less desirable. Let’s keep the petty things private, because the cold truth is that most people don’t care; you would therefore be wasting your time if you conjure up an exaggeration of how awful your past was without providing anything to be gained. Have you ever watched the people on TEDx Talks? I enjoy listening to their problems, because they explain their life from a constructive perspective that aims to inspire the audience. There’s a difference between complaining and explaining.
You’ll notice that one thing I try to do in this blog is offer something I’ve learned through my experiences; this is because I want my writing to actually be, well, relevant. One of my goals this year regarding this blog was to focus less on my personal problems and more on my perspectives regarding different things. By that, I don’t mean to suggest that my personal life will be excluded entirely from my writing. However, I would much rather incite conversation on how my personal life can tie into the way I think, sharing instead a productive outlook that maybe you can relate to as opposed to a rant about the things I don’t like. Outside of my two blogs, my personal life is kept fairly personal actually; I do a decent job at separating it from work. That’s because of two things: (1) I do not actually know or like most of my associates enough to warrant trusting them, and (2) I’m at work to get a paycheck and do my job, not to insist on gossip or share my life’s experiences. Now, some people will argue that since work is a large part of the average person’s life, I should open up to my associates given that they are the people I will know the most for this section of my life. But something you need to understand is that not all people need that. Some people just need a blog.
That isn’t even so much the point of interest I want to address, however. Even the most social people at work feel it necessary to bring their personal problems into the mix. Most of the people at my work do have social lives outside of work, go to school, and have a reasonable number of friends and/or family. I do not have a social life outside of work, nor do I go to school (I do college work online), and have almost no friends – this is why I feel justified in being able to compare my perspective, because I still keep everything outside of work away from work. Now, let’s say that one day, I do decide that I want to share an experience of mine because it’s relevant to a discussion I might be having with a co-worker. I try to say as little as possible, so as to explain the situation and relate it to context, as opposed to complain about it. More often than not, the conversation becomes a competition over whose experiences were more traumatic (at which point I generally say ‘ok’ and go back to work). Allow me to reflect on a meaningful anecdote that will better represent both topics I’ve introduced.
On March 30th, I engaged in a conversation with an associate of mine – we’ll call her Monique. I knew Monique only slightly, for this was just my second shift working with her. But I learned more than I needed to in our small exchange. Monique is a bit of a talker, meaning that she is constantly talking about something. Unfortunately, much of this is gossip or past relationships – two things that are tolerable until it affects work productivity. Monique described that she used to be in a relationship with a regular at our store. Their relationship ended following the reveal that he was once in a relationship with her old boss (who was also my old boss). Now, every time this regular comes into the store (which is nearly every day), Monique avoids any type of contact because of personal history. Someone else has to take his order. Someone else has to welcome him to the store. Someone else has to call his name out. The point here is that the rest of our team is now part of this dynamic caused because Monique’s personal problems rose to the surface. And this same type of thing happens often, with many members of my team – not just Monique. I have been asked many times to greet customers at the drive-through window because my partner had personal history and/or vendettas with said customers. I could be in the middle of doing something else during these types of requests as well. We could be incredibly busy. Don’t get me wrong though; I like Monique. But I don’t want to associate with her outside of work, is the point. I’m not at a point where I feel that way about any of my associates.
Of course I’ll answer the call, because we are a team after all. We help each other because that’s what we do. People will choose whether or not to get over their petty pride, but that doesn’t change what will happen in the moment. I suppose I just don’t understand why people are so afraid of facing personal problems, never mind bringing them into the work place where others have to deal with it. And I know very well what it’s like to have personal history with people. To me, being able to conduct yourself in a work environment shows that you can adapt – a quality worth having. There are certain things you should bring to the table, and certain things you should not bring to the table. I understand people have feelings but that doesn’t mean you should let those direct your decisions. People need to be able to control the way they feel because when you are at work, you are not yourself. You are not living your personal life. You become what you need to be to get the job done. I can recall my high school days, in which many of the people I had history with were actually teachers. As you can imagine, there is no avoiding that. I became exceptionally skilled at leaving the past behind to focus on what is ahead. And I think that is the most important thing to bring to the workplace. At work, you will make mistakes – sometime big ones – and mess up. But do you linger on those and risk your productivity, or move on and become better because of them? The same could be asked with regards to personal problems.
In closing this blog, I will take note of one thing I don’t like: when people say “It’s not your business” to me after they finish ranting about why I need to pick up their slack. Actually, it is my business if I have to do your work for you because of the hell you create and then bring into work. I recognize you might be sensitive, but if you can’t control your emotions (especially at work), then you really should not be working at a place that literally is customer service. Take your problems to Target, please; I’m sure they’ll love hearing all about them. The thing I want you to take away from this blog is that you need to know when to talk about your problems and when not to. Not everyone needs to know your story, but perhaps they just need a part of your story at a very specific moment in time. In other words, it’s okay to share the negative parts of your life when: (1) you have a friend you’re attempting to get closer to by slowly opening up about one (not all!) distasteful experience you’ve had in the past (generally not in the workplace), (2) you have a differing perspective based on an experience you’ve had that might contribute to a constructive discussion, or (3) someone asks you a question related to your life to which you wish to provide an honest, but concise, response. There is no competition, there is no “others are worse off than you” – you cannot ever put anyone in your own shoes, just as you cannot be put in the shoes of others. You will never be able to feel someone else’s experiences the way he or she does because you lead a different life with different experiences and different emotions. Consider that next time you want to compare shoes.
I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.
Last edit: 27 Apr 2016 08:27 by Joey.
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