Right, well. That’s a large topic for a Sunday.
I was talking to a friend, let’s call her Jane, who lives overseas who has been having a rough time at work and in life these past weeks. We had spoken briefly earlier in the week and her affect was the flattest I’d ever heard of her. It’s a tough thing to hear someone your close with in pain and be able to do so little in the way of support. All I could do was remind Jane that I’m here to talk to and that I think she is an awesome person. Little things that can add up to a lot, right?
It turns out that the system Jane works within has not been able to support her, resulting in verbal abuse from customers, minimal support from her supervisor, and essentially being the recipient of interesting (read: inaccurate and hurtful) workplace rumours. At the end of Jane’s work week, in a state of shock (post verbal abuse from a customer) a colleague sent her home. Being the intelligent lass she is, Jane took herself off to the gym and allowed the endorphins to work their magic. In that moment, Jane was able to gain perspective on how she was going to approach the situation and found some inner joy that she could bring back into her day.
I love Jane’s approach for a number of reasons:
1. The stress response from being yelled at – fight or flight – was put to good use in a productive way at the gym. Under repetitive conditions, I have seen the body turn into in all kinds of unpleasantness in response to stress – blisters under fingernails, open welts and rashes on skin, unexplainable muscle pain… the list goes on.
2. Jane took responsibility for how she felt in the moment. Through the interaction with the customer she was polite and calm, then fell apart the moment she felt safe to do so. Rather than let that emotion remain with her for the rest of the day and wallow in what had occurred to her, Jane removed herself from the situation, pumped some tunes at the gym and broke into spontaneous dance. Jane’s joy comes from music – singing and dancing. Tapping into this allowed Jane’s mood to lift and provided a clearer perspective on the rest of her day.
Ultimately, Jane returned to work that day and was in a position to be able to speak frankly from a proactive perspective with her upper manager. This outcome may not have been possible if the conversation had occurred without first addressing the Biological (stress response) and then Psychological (thought process and subsequent emotional state) impact of her work situation. Jane independently built her resilience back up, addressed her own accountability to being part of the solution and moved forward in a positive manner, for herself and her employer.
Rock star that she is!