(My edit – Professional Advice for Everyone because we are all sensitive, whether we can acknowledge it or not)
If you’re reading this, let’s face it you’ve been told to “suck it up” before. In the professional realm there is very little room for heightened feelings unless your professional realm IS feelings–the arts are probably the only place you can truly let your freak flag fly and even that is riddled with politics, partisanship and popularity contests. But I’m not giving you advice for sparing those around you the damage that your sensitivity releases–I’m giving you advice to calm your mind when shit hits the fan around you, so that being the emotional succubus that you are, you do not implode.
A little background for those of you who don’t know me–which is to say everyone–I’m one of those creatures who peaked in high school and college (yeah you know the type, it’s probably you reading this now), good at school, bad at life. After graduating from a top 30 university in the States–fully paid for by my university–and getting a stellar contract with a not-to-be-named large, imposing UN agency and being offered one at another imposing UN agency, which I rejected, my about-to-bloom career took a spiral I never imagined it could. Every rock bottom was really a couple floors above the crash site. I was like a Fast and the Furious prop car falling down through vertical gold encrusted Dubai triple tower hotel floors of professional shit.
And here is what I learned on the way down:
– Do not share your emotions or your personal story or personal life with everyone. They haven’t earned the right to hear it. It stings when something you said is used against you during an appraisal because the way you process what you say is not how others process it. Only those in your court will understand and not leverage it against you.
– Notice the power structure and instead of becoming overwhelmed with the politics and/or backing one horse, play it cool with everyone. If you back the wrong horse, you’re out of the race. And out of a job. Support them and advise them during secret lunch meetings but standing up for someone blindly is not recommended unless serious harm has been done to them.
– Never EVER send an email when emotional. Take 24 hours and if you’re still pissed off, take 24 more. If that doesn’t work, ask a confidante, personal or professional for advice. At the most, they can help you draft a response, at the least they can cool you the fuck down or bring a different perspective.
– Don’t whine or pout. It’s seriously unbecoming. When I start feeling down because once again I catch my boss gossiping about me behind my back or I made a few too many errors one day and am hard on myself, I imagine the lens on my life drifting far, far out into space until the earth is barely a blip on the screen. We’re all transitory and insignificant in the larger scheme of eternity. You’ll get through these next 3 hours of emotional pain too.
– If you get stressed at work and have a dual screen–do not Omegle–IT knows everything…seriously.
– When you can’t take it anymore and your mind feels shattered and exhausted and unfocused thoughts and self pity whir past a mile a minute, journal. If I write even a paragraph or a few sentences, I feel like I decoded what those biggest fears or roadblocks are that have been distracting me and upping the cortisol level.
– Feeling stuck? Remind yourself even those who have “better” careers or jobs feel that way from time to time. And of course linkedin at home. Better to be stuck in a new situation than an old one.
– Boss sniggering at you, putting down your ideas or just screaming at you to “get it done” without any instruction or guidance? This one was hard for me. I silently cried for 3 minutes from confusion and threw her under the bus when her boss came over and I made it clear that my boss had no idea what she was talking about. If your boss is overbearing, let her feel like he/she is in power. It doesn’t reduce your own power or significance, it just proves there is an insecurity of his or her own that he or she is projecting on you.
– Not have enough work and boss hates it when you ask for tasks and/or when you bring external jobs into the department? Ignore the boss. As long as you’re getting the basic work done and are getting esteem from the extra projects, it’s fine. But you have to be smart about it. If the boss then takes credit, make sure you point out a technical aspect during a staff meeting, make friends with others and tell them what you’re working on, so it’s known around the organization. If you’re emotionally sensitive and acting deceitful becomes morally apprehensive and stressful, remember it’s not politics, it’s you highlighting your own contribution, because if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will know to advocate for you in turn?
– And lastly, press against the back of your neck, focus on your breath and write a sentence–full of dirty words, full of hateful words, full of insults and complaints and fears–and follow it with these three words “I forgive you”. Whether you are furious at someone else or yourself, you can choose to forgive and get on with your work feeling a little gentler, a little softer, a little more calmed down in the emotional shitstorm that is you.
Thank you for reading and I hope you share your own bits of advice and experiences in how you deal with your professional turmoil. The Professional Emotional Guru is now out! (mike drop ;p)
– Manic Maria
Manic Maria is an analysis, marketing and project design shark. Someday, she will make the world a better place at her own breakneck pace.
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