A long-time client of mine recently shared with me his ongoing frustration at the “gutlessness” of a number of his work colleagues.
What led to this discussion was a conversation he had had earlier that day with a co-worker who had recently attended an all-day workshop along with these said colleagues.
The co-worker told him how angry he had become when, after the workshop, the group had gone for a drink and spent the entire time trashing my client, his boss, and several other co-workers.
His colleague recorded part of the conversation on his smartphone after he had become sufficiently disgusted at this cowardly behavior.
My client did listen to a portion of this recording and sarcastically told me that prior to doing so he had absolutely no idea of how you useless he was, how stupid he was, how incompetent he was, and how the organization would be far better off without him.
Ditto for his boss and all the others whose worthlessness was discussed.
His colleague went on to say that he had attempted several times to defend these folks to the group and had expressed his views as to their lack of professionalism.
He told them that it was cowardly to attack those not present to defend themselves.
He was ignored and, disgusted by their behaviour, had covertly pressed the “record” button on his phone.
What was so interesting to me, listening to the story, was not so much the content of his story but rather the commonness of this type of behaviour.
I have had the good fortune of working in many organizations over the years. My client companies represent an eclectic mix of industries and companies both large and small.
If there’s one thing that has been common to the corporate “culture” in many of them, it is the readiness and willingness with which many people in these organizations critically tear apart their employers and coworkers.
For many of us, whenever we have an issue with a person, it seems that we will unhesitatingly talk about this with anybody who cares to listen.
We will talk to everybody with one small exception.
We don’t talk to the person with whom we have an issue.
We’re delighted to talk about them but will not talk to them.
It is long been my goal in every organization where I’ve encountered such behavior to try and help foster a new culture that promotes the notion that the only person we should speak to about and issue we have is the very person with whom we have that issue.
Of course, this is not easy. It takes no courage at all to rip someone apart in their absence.
But it is also not productive. It is destructive.
Transactional Analysis, a theory of communication developed by a renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Eric Berne postulates that we, at all times, are in one of three “ego states” – the Parent, Adult and Child.
It seems to me that this willingness of so many to gratuitously pillory colleagues is an indication of much time being spent outside of the adult state.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a part of an organization that promotes adult behaviour?
– An organization that has no taboo topics.
– An organization that encourages people to address their issues with co-workers in an adult – to – adult fashion and always from within the boundaries of polite and respectful behaviour.
– An organization where those unwilling to do this find themselves without an audience willing to listen to their ongoing complaints.
Frequently when I have shared my concerns with folks in different organizations I have been told that “this is our culture and it is very difficult to change culture.”
Culture simply means “this is how we do things around here.”
In other words culture is simply the word we use to describe what has become acceptable.
And if you want the culture to change then start doing different things around here.
And every one of us can contribute to a new, changed culture in our workplaces by simply following the sage advice given us many years ago that great man Mahatma Gandhi who urged us to “ … be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Being the change we wish to see in the world is not always a popular choice.
It frequently takes a great deal of courage.
And often involves risk.
It may come at a high cost.
But if being the change you wish to see is the right thing to do, then any other choice involves the selling of your soul.
And that is just too high a price to pay for anything.
Till we read again.
P.S. Check out my new Facebook page www.facebook.com/strategicpathways I’d sure like it if you like it.