We’re all guilty – we can’t help but have a little whine and a moan about the head honcho of the office every now and again (or more regularly than that if we’re being honest).
It feels good to vent and band together with fellow colleagues about the injustices, trials, and tribulations of the workplace. Finally, a topic everyone can contribute to!
Whether we realise it or not, we look for someone to blame for whenever there’s a negative consequence or situation at issue. We blame the weather for ruining the weekend, the traffic for making us late, the economy for our debts, and our bosses for overloading our in-tray. But do we merely complain because we know we can change things but omit to do anything about it?
Well you can’t change the weather, there was a crash on the M5 which is why I was late, living in Sydney is so expensive and you don’t have my boss…, I hear you say. I get it. It’s all true, but you still made plans assuming a lovely warm and sunny afternoon, all the while knowing that you can’t really predict the weather. You still decided to drive to work knowing that traffic is at its peak- perhaps leaving an extra 15 minutes early wouldn’t hurt? You made the decision to get that higher credit card limit knowing that what you spend you have to pay back – no the bank did not coerce you! And your boss? Well, we’ll get to him.
We get sucked into a blaming culture that doesn’t provide answers or solutions, it just shifts the responsibility of fixing it to someone else. When we blame someone, we rarely tell them it’s their fault. We just let the complaint sit in silence, whilst we bask in the temporary relief of having reflected any personal responsibility for the problem from ourselves to someone else.
As a result, nothing changes. The boss stays mean, you stay meek. The boss continues to be the supposed root cause to your workplace misery.
So how do you move away from blame? It’s a hard question to ask yourself, especially if your boss can act out all four seasons in one day. Just when you think you need a winter coat, you wish you brought sunscreen.
Focus on what you can change and start with the basics. If you didn’t think you could handle your boss, you’d change jobs – and there’s no shame in that.But if you choose not to change jobs, you’re ‘weathering the storm’ at your own volition. With that in mind, do you really have a right to complain? It rests with you to switch your focus from what you don’t like, to what you’re getting out of it – a good salary? Good experience? Flexibility?
It sounds harsh, criticizing ourselves for a situation that appears to be someone else’s fault. But it’s not a criticism, it’s taking responsibility for your own actions and what you can control in the situation. You can’t control someone else’s actions, but you can control their behaviour towards you, by changing how you react.
If your boss is rude and unsupportive, how are you responding to that? Do you respond by avoiding him? Are you defensive? If you think back to an uncomfortable interaction you’ve had with your boss, what could you have done differently to have changed the outcome?
Your problems may come from something as simple as timing – are you approaching him/her about a problem at the wrong time, i.e. when he’s just about to meet with an important client? Are you using your initiative? There are endless possible answers as to why your boss treats you the way he/she does.
If your boss is giving you too much work, it could be because he/she knows you’re capable of doing more in your day. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you may be a procrastinator, shy away from using your initiative or simply enjoy a spot of mid-morning online shopping and office gossip catch-ups a bit too much. It’s in your power to manage your time better. Alternatively, are you choosing not to say no? You have the means to respond assertively.
Shift the focus away from assigning blame and instead focus on your ability to respond to the situation.