The last week at work has been tough! I know it is normally difficult to come back to the workplace after a vacation, but the last week has really drained me. I am mentally, emotionally, physically and systematically fatigued. It has been an ugly week, a lot of unkind words, unnecessary aggression and prickly / spike-y attitudes. I have received hatred, threats and pure vitriol.
In my role for work I help people and I find it very rewarding and I feel good about what I do. The only issue is that it is a very thankless job, people tend to only provide feedback when it is negative, not positive. You may get an occasional ‘thank you’, but very rarely a piece of feedback which Management will acknowledge, let alone promote.
Anyways, for the most part I am quite resilient, you have to be in this role. Some days though, some days the aggression, lack of appreciation and swearing and attitude becomes a bit much. Yesterday I had someone 5 years younger than me call me ‘girly’ on the phone. Sometimes I can relay a piece of information and I am challenged and without sounding cocky, I know my stuff, I am confident in what I do.
I know the rules, I know the legislation and I know my job. I am helpful, I go above what is required of me, I try to under promise and under deliver. So when it is challenged disrespectfully or someone brings my gender into it, I get annoyed. My male colleagues should not have to say exactly what I say for the message to be delivered.
So, this past week it got to me, I dropped my smile, I was a little more curt over the phone and I was a bit too sarcastic to be the genuinely empathetic and caring person I usually am at work. I am not proud of it, that I let a few grumpy and nasty-mouthed people rub off on me like that. I spent the weekend going around in circles, relieving some of the more hateful words spat at me last week at work.
I look around me and I am convinced everyone else is kinder, more patient, more reasonable and less cynical than me. Some days I feel like I am on top of it all, sometimes I feel like I am scraping the metaphorical barrel, just trying to pull out empathy and positivity for my working days.
Initially I stopped being so empathetic, so understanding – by Friday of last week I was barely saying ‘you’re welcome’ and I certainly was not smiling over the phone. My tank was empty, what a terrible place to be.
This morning I again copped attitude over the phone, the name calling, the suggestion I was ‘dumb’ or ‘ill equipped’ for the job, that I was ‘working for the man’ and looking to ‘screw over hard working people’.I thought about biting back, to defend myself. To defend my position. I was close…but I didn’t.
I said sorry. I am genuinely sorry for the hurt people in the world are experiencing, I know that some of the decisions I make at work have dreadful impacts on others. I don’t make these decisions to be hurtful, I am following the law. Unfortunately what some people feel they deserve, is not necessarily their legal right. I listened, I offered support, I empathised. I offered advice external to my workplace. I gave my heart, ears and soul to this conversation and you know what? It didn’t change the outcome, but it cost me nothing to practice empathy, to be kind.
We can’t let the actions of others, the poisonous words spoken by others, or our frustration at red tape result in our own actions being cold-hearted or insensitive. I am acutely aware that my own sensitivities will be the downfall of me in this profession, but turning my back on my own natural empathy and genuine care for others would be far more detrimental to my soul.
Be kind, always.
Thank you for reading, please share with me any hints + tips you have for managing unkind words/actions by others…