Q. I feel caught - I have to work this job but my wife and my income say I must leave. I feel I must get another job and that takes time. Pressured to get a job in the same business that I don't really want. What I want is to chase my passion, my dream and my love which is personal and professional development.
A. If you have passionate dreams, you need to chase them. Life is about risk, otherwise we stagnate and stop living. We simply exist in frustration and fear. More important, if you don't chase those dreams, resentment against your situation, and even your family, will build up over time which then might affect the marriage itself, as one partner then blames the other later on for any lack of progress or fulfilment. That is the biggest killer of marriages - unfulfilled expectations.
From what you have said, I think the real problem for you is insufficient self belief. You are not sure YOU can do it, and so you go along with your wife's suggestion while still feeling unhappy inside. Have you thought of starting up a very small business on the side (like having a website) to give life to your dream of personal and professional development and to test its possibility? Then you can see how that slowly builds to a point where you can then leave your IT job? From little acorns grow big oak trees. There is no harm in trying it out on a very small scale, perhaps just empowering one or two people weekly until it becomes much more.
If you are 'passionate' in what you are doing, you will make a success of it. By trying it out while still working, you will see what you need to do on a larger scale. By not trying it out at all and staying put, you will merely remain unhappy, become resentful and lose sight of what makes you into the person you could be. Sadly, this could also have a negative domino effect on other aspects of your life in the future.
Why not test your confidence - and your level of fear -and see how you feel at this moment?
It could give you insight into where you are now, and how much you are prepared to really achieve what you want.
Getting along with colleagues at work can be a difficult business, especially where the status and rank are unequal. Relationships at work fail mainly because wherever there is competition for scarce resources: like territory, salary, status, titles, promotion etc, there will be covert negativity to fuel the intense need for personal success. A bit of stabbing in the back in order to get noticed. That's not conducive to good friendships.
It's a contradiction in terms to expect people who are mainly competing with each other through their skills and talents to truly get on together, no matter how 'cooperative' they are supposed to be with the organisation's objectives. Add to that the confidence, or lack of it, of those involved, the different personalities in play and, above all, the various expectations - gender, hierarchical, professional, cultural - that they all carry individually, and the wonder is that they actually get on at all!!
Good relationships come out of cooperation, not competition. It is nurtured by an environment of mutual respect and support, where everyone is working toward a common aim without feeling threatened, undermined, neglected or unfairly treated. The average workplace where money is the bottom line and people's jobs depend on generating that income is not conducive to fostering such relationships because many people often work very hard, yet are not rewarded appropriately for it, which tends to lead to an undercurrent of resentment.
Furthermore, one simply cannot compete and cooperate effectively at the same time and end up with the desired results. Usually everyone starts off with the best intentions which soon go sour because, basically, each person looks after No.1. Each worker's aim is to ensure his/her fair share of what is available, which would then affect the strength, the potential and the growth of genuine relationships - the main reason why many of them are superficial.
The workplace is an artificial construct for the particular purpose of business transactions and professional development, with competition at its centre. The home and personal friendships are usually not competitive. They are entirely cooperative and in mutual alignment with what the parties desire. In essence, home relationships are natural interactions, based upon free choice and nurtured through mutual respect and support. Work relationships are artificially created through work roles, functions and, primarily, organisational objectives. The two are not quite the same!
For example, no matter how well two people get on at work, the minute one of them is promoted or given a pay rise that is perceived to be 'unfair' by the other, who desired it too, resentment will creep in and that friendship will be gradually be lost. Hence why many people find it really difficult to get on in the workplace, especially women who, on the whole, prefer to collaborate than to compete, and why relationships at work will tend to be problematic.
'Jerks' are usually the victims of low self esteem and a lack of confidence, which breed envy and jealousy against their colleagues. They come across with bravado and a bullying attitude but they have very low opinion of themselves. The only way they can raise that opinion and low value is through any of the following forms of behaviour:
* Denigrating what others do by being constantly critical;
* Putting others down;
* Being cynical and mocking;
* Making jokes at others' expense;
* Feeling superior with their actions:
* Being the inflexible 'jobsworth' type and sticking slavishly to the rules.
* Being overpowering and intimidating.
They really feel good when people cower before their challenges and accept their 'jokes' or their bullying. That's where they get their kicks.
The main thing in dealing with 'jerks' is not to be reduced to their level. I always ask pointedly, and sweetly, "You must be feeling rather terrible today if you have to use me to boost your ego. Is that the best you can do with yourself? I expected much more of you."
By resisting their bait, treating them like the spoilt child who have to be sympathised with, and appealing to their better natures, while keeping one's cool, it would tend to throw them off guard. Try to see their point of view first, but if it is unacceptable or untenable, then agree to differ, courteously, and avoid them where necessary. Demeaning yourself by behaving in the same way makes you no better. 'Jerks' love ATTENTION and feeling powerful. By depriving them of it in some way, it reduces their power to affect you.
The best way to treat obvious 'jerks' is to learn assertiveness skills to help you stand up to them, because the more you ignore them is the worse it will get. If all else fails and their actions tend to be regular, they must be reported because such uncaring people often make the lives of working folk very stressful indeed.
Q. My boss consistently gives me more work than another employee. Should I say something about it?
A. Yes you must, otherwise, you will simply get more of the same because he/she will believe that you don't mind that extra work. Of course, there is also the saying, "Work a willing horse."
Many people put up with a lot of unacceptable behaviour in their workplace because of three main reasons based on FEAR:
But any behaviour based on fear is leading to nowhere because behaviour that is not noticed or resisted will just continue. Your silence suggests that it is all right to give you more work. Moreover, if you say nothing, you simply condone the action which encourages it to become permanent while you become a doormat. If you are not sure how to actually deal with this problem, you could try the following way in your own words:
First, schedule a meeting for a 'quick chat'. Then at the meeting, begin by praising the boss for being a great manager, a supportive and helpful one, and say how much you have enjoyed working for him/her. Then say that your positive relationship is one of the reasons why you would like to continue working with the company. Emphasise that, however, recently, you have felt that you are not getting enough time to give that quality attention to your job because you believe you might be getting more work than you can cope with.
Mention how you appreciate that new challenges help your skills to develop, but you would rather have a gradual workload which reflects your competence and gradually improves your skills than to have too much work too quickly that makes you feel overwhelmed. Could the workload be reduced until you learn how to manage what you already have in order to deal with it more efficiently and give a quality output?
If you start with praise and appreciation and carry on to ask a question, rather than to dictate the outcome, you are likely to get what you want, and you won't feel awkward about it. Above all, it won't look as though you are whingeing, it would put your own progression into focus, you would not have compared yourself to anyone else, and you are more likely to be heard.
However, is it really the workload that is the problem? Or could it be that you are broadly unhappy with other things connected with the work, perhaps needing a new challenge or recognition, and need to review your whole job situation? Often our desire for complete change is masked by other trivial things which are then used as the main problem instead to prevent us facing up to, and dealing with, the real issues. If you have been in the job at least three years, it is time for a thorough review of what you have achieved and where you should be heading next.
Perhaps you might find the Confidence Guide website of help in that regard.
Q. Does a thought comes in your mind that life has become monotonous and routine? That you keep on doing everyday tasks, in both work and home, mechanically, subconsciously or automatically? My question to you is - What do you do to get rid of drudgery which creeps in everyday?
A. I have to say that I haven't time to be bored because I write for a living so I am always searching for new topics. However, to stop my life getting into a boring routine of the same things, especially as I work for myself, I divide my day up into four parts. First part is for work, second is for going walking, shopping or all the other jobs I might have outside, third is back to work and the last part is relaxing with some music, TV, a performance or with a boyfriend, when I have one. I am always creating new things too and trying out new ideas so my life tends to be very enjoyable without too many moments to feel bored or restless.
People who find their jobs or life boring are really unhappy within themselves and deliberately try to ignore the causes of that unhappiness. Instead, they expect their work or home to make them feel better, but that doesn't happen if they are basically down and demoralised, frustrated or resentful. We are likely to feel bored when we are not working to purpose, but just have a job for the sake of a job or just earning the money. Then we get no fulfilment from what we do, which keeps us feeling unhappy, bored and demotivated most of the time.
I adore getting up each day to do my work. I get such tremendous joy it is an amazing feeling, especially when there is feedback about the effect on other people. if you don't have that feeling regarding your work, then you are probably in the wrong job. When we are really happy with what we do, we have little time to be bored. We would be too busy and occupied. Perhaps you need to examine closely what you really want to do with your life. What would make you sing with joy every day? What work would bring out the best in you and aim for that. It could change your feelings and perspectives totally.
In answer to your question, I do not have any drudgery in my day because I regard every day as precious, I never take it for granted as it could be my last; I love what I do and I try to make each day a masterpiece. That leaves little room for anything else. :o)
Sarcasm should not have any place in the workplace because it is a form of disrespect and contempt for other individuals. Anyone who uses others as the butt of their jokes and who laughs at their expense (i:e AT others instead of WITH them), is low in esteem and personal confidence. He/she feels excluded and insecure in their own abilities, position and potential, and sarcasm is their way of drawing attention to themselves, being popular and/or feeling superior.
Most important, sarcasm is not a unifying attitude. It is primarily based on fear and fear is a paralysing force which builds nothing. As a writer once said, "You are either operating from love or you're operating from fear", and it is a personal choice. But one approach values, reinforces and empowers others while the other simply negates, belittles and destroys.
The key question is: How does one cope with such sarcasm? There are no easy answers. It really depends on the confidence of the individual, the prevailing culture and the person who is being sarcastic. The only definitive action is that sarcasm should never be ignored.
If the person is a manager, I would normally appeal to their better judgement and immediately say something like, "I have always respected you and appreciated your support. I am disappointed and sad that you feel the need to be sarcastic to get your point across. Is that really the example you wish to set for me?"
If it is a colleague, it would be: "Your self-esteem must be pretty low if you feel the need to boost it at my expense. I won't deprive you of your moment. Do enjoy!" And leave it at that. I usually find that it works a treat.
But it really is an individual thing and it is best to say what one feels is appropriate at that moment in time, even if it is not quite right, and which suits the interaction and situation. At least the person knows how you feel.
Q. In recent discussions on our forum, some of the members wrote in repulsive, derogatory, insulting, intimidating and highly objectionable language. I felt very bad after going through their responses. Why do they do it, Elaine?
A. I think it is very sad when people feel the need to use derogatory or offensive language when communicating with others. There is no reason whatever to be derogatory in a discussion, even if we do not like what the other person is saying. But in the kind of world we are living today, where the essential courtesies seem to be missing behind a barrier of anonymity, this makes it easier to be insulting using the detached world of the Internet. Personally, I have found three types of people who use such negative communication to get their points across.
First, there are the simple bullies who have found a platform for their style, especially under the anonymity of the Internet where they can't be personally identified. They love to behave that way because it gives them a feeling of power over the others at whom their vitriol is aimed. They enjoy having the upper hand and love to be goaded so that they can continue to do more of the same. Bullies delight in imposing their ideas and thoughts on to others. They tend to be verbally abusive, with lots of name calling, and enjoy being confrontational and controversial. Bullies are very low in self-esteem and so behaving in that derogatory manner is meat and drink to them to boost their ego and to make them feel important. Otherwise they would feel crappy, especially if everyone ignored them.
Second, are the ones I call the shouters - those who are not used to getting the attention they deserve in gentle, courteous ways, so they believe that if they act differently they will attract far more attention and be able to 'shout down' everyone else by being offensive and controversial. Shouters enjoy showing how much they know and how little everyone else does, and in a manner designed to make their audience, or specific targets, feel inferior or inadequate. They tend to turn everything into an argument because they are never wrong in their own eyes. That is how they get their kicks and the only way they can show their superior 'knowledge'. Hence they are likely to argue ad nauseam, just for the sake of it to get the better of you. These types only see their own warped logic and are only interested in your point of view to pick holes in it.
More Bravado Than Brain!
The first is to calmly ask if they need to boost their self-esteem so badly at my expense in order to feel superior? Then they should enjoy it, but be quiet about it. Second, I also emphasise that I do have standards for my own space, and do not usually converse with people who cannot pay me the courtesy of not being offensive. The third is to deliberately praise their positive contributions and ignore the more negative aspects. If those first steps still don't work, I just switch off and entirely ignore them, cutting off their oxygen of attention for the future.
Arguing with them endlessly is seldom effective because that is exactly what they want. It merely plays by their rules and give them the opportunity to continue to do what they like best - to be offensive, superior and dictatorial.
This is an excellent question and there is a simple answer to it. Companies like to pretend that they hire for skills, but they are only interested in cloning people to match a particular identikit that suits their culture.
They are not interested in the individual, per se, but in the combined contribution for success. Anything that gets in the way of that covert objective is then isolated and rejected. They might pretend or THINK they are hiring specific skills but they are actually hiring a personality: one that will blend in, enhance their ethos and culture and carry on the legacy.
Furthermore, attitudes are not obvious at interviews because people are usually on their best behaviour and their skills are easier to identify at that time. Later on, when they are appointed and are more comfortable in the job, the real personalities and attitudes come to the fore. That is also when they begin to attract positive or negative attention!
Aligning with a company is like a relationship. No matter how wonderful the courtship goes, the 'real' persons afterwards are often a huge surprise to each other. People might think they know each other well, that they really like what they see and there is almost complete alignment between them. But look at the divorce rate that says otherwise.
There is an important emotional factor at work in humans which is seldom taken into account in any situation and that is this: People only reveal their true selves in a crisis, when they are afraid and when they are challenged. Hence why some marriages go for years with both parties thinking they 'know' each other well until the inevitable affairs and why some workers, despite all the psychometric tests, forum discussions, test activities and interviews still prove the wrong pick for the company.
This is because most people simply want to please and will often do anything to please the significant others in their lives. While things are going well, while one can cope with life and while one is enjoying one's existence, one is likely to reveal only the superficial aspects of one's self; the parts one wishes to be seen and accepted; the parts that are on show for effect. Everything else needs a strong catalyst to reveal it because, as Shakespeare aptly noted, all the world's a stage and we all play many parts in our lifetime. Hence why the best way to know the real measure of someone is to see them perform in a crisis, which, of course, is not possible in an interviews!
This problem will never change for the reasons stated above, regardless of the greatest psychological tests, hence why it is repeated ad nauseam across organisations. The only test that will make a difference is one based on matching VALUES which should help to secure a better fit between worker and environment, one which I am actually developing and hope to pilot at some point.
Q. Elaine, how is it the more I try, the worse it gets? To be happy and carefree seems an impossible request. I'm just feeling down at the moment, nothing going my way as usual. I work 80-100hrs a week trying to make ends meet. But every time I see the goalposts something goes wrong, and I'm back to square one again. I cannot tell my wife how I feel, because she worries more than me. What say you?
A. Thanks for confiding in me, though I cannot help by advising you, as I really don't know your situation fully. I can only give some suggestions. You sound exactly like where I was 12 years ago. Working every hour that God sent, for very little money, very unhappy and feeling as though I was going backwards instead of forwards.
Then my marriage fell apart because someone somewhere was trying to tell me something and I had refused to listen. I was stuck on this treadmill of deadlines, on and on, being too scared to give up, yet even more scared to carry on in the same vein, while debts were piling and even less money was coming in. Then one day, without warning, I suddenly couldn't go on any more and my marriage went with it too. That was seven years ago. Since then, I have never felt better. I had to go backwards for a while in order to go forward, but my confidence is now at is peak, I feel as though the sky is my limit, I have time to smell the roses and, above all, I feel human again instead of a robot. I have much less money but I am far less stressed too and feeling great to be alive.
Often we forget that we are not here on earth to work, but actually to be HAPPY, to live and be creative to enjoy that living. If you are working so hard, no wonder you are so unhappy. Where is your life? Where is the appreciation of that life?
Reasons for Current Actions
Which ones apply to you? And how could you change them for the better?
In fact, why not re-number the list in your priority order, starting from which ones apply to you the MOST. That will tell you what you need to focus on immediately to change both the approach to your life and what is happening in it. People often take their life for granted, but the only time we are guaranteed is TODAY. If we don't make the most of it, we won't have another day like it, so time to make some changes in your life. Only you know what they need to be. If you are not sure, look at your HABITS - the way you do things. That is the way to see your future because the habits you have now will continue to give you the same results forever if you do not change them.
The simple solution for sorting out your life, even before you answer the personal questions I gave you, is to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. No matter what it is, no matter how big or small, CHANGE YOUR RESULT so that you can have something to start feeling good about again. Often people get inro a rut simply through developing habits which should have been ditched or replaced ages ago. Just like people using paper lists when they should be using computers! However, you have taken the first step by coming to me. That is a subconscious acknowledgement that something HAS to change in your life. You just need to keep searching for those answers which are relevant to your situation.
As to your wife and not telling her, that is your decision. But marriage is a partnership and when partners get surprises they don't expect, that's the time they normally want out because they can't cope with the truth and are likely to distrust you from then on. However, if they are allowed to share that problem, they might have solutions you haven't even thought about. Often it is our ego which gets in the way of asking for help, and a fear of the consequences. Yet, we have to fully face whatever life throws at us, especially with the support of our partners, because that's how we become stronger, more knowledgeable, even more determined and draw closer together.
However, do hang in there. Things will improve if you face your fears, change your approach and begin to look at all the possible solutions. Just change your habits, get out of your comfort zone, and watch the difference!
Q. When I started my internet business, my mother told me:"Nonsense, you can't earn like this. That's not a job". She's always so damn negative about everything I start or dream about. Yesterday she really hurt me saying how she loved her first husband and how happy she was with him. He's still alive, but my father isn't, and now she wants me to understand she married my father because he was a "good man", not because she loved him.
I think I'm doing too much to please her, but I get nothing in return. She had a son who died in a car accident and till this day she keeps talking about what a wonderful boy he was, that he could be an actor, that he was talented, exceptional. I never was her "little princess". She never told me I'm pretty, lovely like most mothers do. I believe it's HER who makes me feel so unsure of myself.
A. How sad it must be for you but your mother is showing the classic case of hiding her real pain and taking it all out on you. Her son isn't alive to hear it and your father isn't alive to hear it either. You are the only link to those two people and, instead of cherishing you and loving you because you ARE alive and the only person she has left, she treats you badly instead to cope with her suppressed anger. She doesn't really mean it and would be devastated if anything happened to you. However, she is masking her grief and when that frustration becomes unbearable, you are in the firing line.
Additionally, she does not believe in you because she resents your presence. How dare you have the opportunity to do things with your life when your brother and your father no longer have it? That is the kind of thing she probably thinks without meaning to do so. It then comes out in her behaviour. It is not an uplifting situation to be in and it would be the MAIN cause of your lack of confidence, to be constantly treated as second best. Don't judge her too harshly but try to spend less time around her. Let her begin to miss you more, to wonder what life would be like without you.
Why not write her a sympathetic letter, or talk to her face to face, if you have the courage. Tell her something like this, in your own words: "I know you are really hurting from the loss of my father and brother, but I love you too and am glad we have each other. However, you don't seem to appreciate my company and are constantly negative about my life. That does not do anything for my self esteem or my aspirations. Moreover, if you feel the need to treat me that way, it is not only sad, especially as I love and appreciate you, but I would need to spend less time in your company to prevent me becoming as negative as you are. That would be really tragic as I do appreciate you very much."
Tell her your honest feelings and then see what she does. If she keeps on in the same manner, try and avoid her as much as possible. When you are around her, only reinforce pleasant or positive actions. Whenever she says anything negative, don't respond or leave her company immediately. When she is positive and endearing, return the compliment or do things to affirm her. In this way she will gradually get the message that she will need to be more sensitive and loving if she is going to share your company and your love.
Resentment with loss
Talking about her son is your mother's way of dealing with her loss. He's never coming back so all she has is his memory and thoughts of how successful he could have been. Don't begrudge her that. Share it with her, encourage her to talk about him while gently reminding her that you need such support too. It doesn't matter that your were not expressly told you were a 'little princess'. You will begin to be truly valued when you learn to value yourself, lessen the jealousy and not allow yourself to be treated badly every day of your life.
So stop trying to please your mother, to make up for the son she lost, and start being you. Otherwise you will just keep getting more of the same. Start loving you, appreciating you and being kind to you. It will take the negative focus off your mother and place it positively where it belongs: on who you are, your value in life and where you're heading. You will feel quite different about her then and far less threatened by her actions.
So you have a few debts, times are hard, and you are feeling overwhelmed. It is not a nice place to be. Furthermore, in such situations, many people tend to focus on the debts themselves instead of the positive ways of getting out of them. However, when we focus on anything negative, that is all we seem to attract in our lives - more negativity. So the best place to start getting out of a debt situation is inside our head.
1. Boost that confidence and self-belief
2. Assess the exact nature of your debts and income
Destroy any credit cards and resolve to use cash for most of your shopping. You could keep just one debit card linked directly to your bank account, which you could use for those purchases that need a card. It means you will continue to live within your means because when you haven't got it, you won't use a credit card to pay for it.
3. Assessing income portions
For example, if your income is $500 per week, you would put aside $50 every week for you (10%) as savings and for anything unexpected, you would live on $400 (70%), and you would pay $100 toward your debts (20%). In the UK we have two agencies that would take your 20% debt repayment, decide how best to pay your creditors and do it all for you, so that you don't have to deal with the creditors at all. It means that you would be in a better frame of mind to begin rebuilding your life - debt free - while clearing your debts. You would not be bogged down with worry or angst, which should help you to start getting even more prosperous.
4. Make new personal goals
5. Finally, smile as much as possible