If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.
These words were once spoken by a cute little rabbit in a cute little cartoon and boy, are these words of wisdom. Out with Einstein, in with Thumper! And who are we not to take cartoons seriously?
I, for one, know some people who can use this kind of advice. You know who? Women in the workplace. I’m currently experiencing my job at several wtf’s a minute where wtf has taken many forms, ranging from Wtf is wrong with her? to When-tf am I going to quit this job? It’s exhausting.
But then I think, maybe it’s all in my head. But also maybe not. But having one of my female colleagues sending “thank you” emails to every team member (except me), talking to everyone in the team (except me), and helping everyone in the team with trivial tasks (except me) confirms my sanity. It’s not at all all in my head.
Assuming we sleep eight hours a day and that we work full-time, we could say that we spend approximately 50% of our waking hours at work.
If this notion isn’t already depressing, in this kind of hostile environment, that’s 50% of our waking hours being surrounded by eye-rolling, a snappy “what?” every time you inquire anything and “yep” as the comprehensive and absolute answer to all possible questions.
In my case, mind you, that’s all in addition to the nasty looks and remarks I get thrown in my direction that my manager claims to miss. Sure. And here I am, and if you are familiar at all with this type of hostility – here you are – feeling as if in a war zone hoping for back-to-back meetings as a form of asylum.
And just to really get under your skin, there is the plague of the open space. Across organizations, an increase of open space design has been seen over the past decade – I believe that was to promote team-bonding, closeness, as well as open communication. Right.
See, I don’t think these designers thought the repercussions of this concept through. In fact, I don’t believe these designers were women to begin with. Women should not be put in a competitive space to coexist openly and together unless there are predefined rules where a) talking is preferably prohibited and b) no one is allowed to look each other in the eye. Like in a sauna for example.
Right now, however, it’s a hop-skip-and-a-meow until competition arises and claws are out, ready to rip and roll right into Jumanji II.
So, what is it that managers are supposed to do? Specifically – what are male managers supposed to do? If they’re a good manager, they’ll recognize this sort of bullying and speak up. They’ll also recognize good work and defend that which they believe is really the right thing to do (here’s hoping to a good moral compass).
They will use their leadership to exert and demand respect and encourage a healthy working environment. At least, that’s what Chapter 4: Managing in the workplace dictates in my college economics book.
But if they’re anything like what I am used to, they’ll hide behind their desks (if not under them) and pray that this will all pass in due time. Guess the author of my economics book didn’t consider the role of a man as a manager in a female dominant team. I bet balls would be the common denominator of that chapter.
So, before skedaddling off to the shop to buy your very first white flag to hang over you monitor as some sort of misinterpreted desk decoration, here is something simple to keep in mind: yes, you might feel that you’ve given them oh so many chances (a ton, actually!) and they’re still the incompetent uncivilized human beings they were a year ago — but they are just co-workers.
They’re colleagues. They’re people you don’t have to be friends with — ever. They are not, and if at this rate, they will never become the antidote to your bad days nor the reason behind the good ones.
Doesn’t this already take a whole load off? Maintaining a professional relationship (really, just that) ultimately decreases your expectations (and your wrinkles as you’ll frown less) and upholds the team equilibrium you’ve always looked for. Finding peace in this is a career-saver!
So, love yourself, believe in your own abilities, stay professional, and be and say all things nice. Because really, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say nothin’ at all.