By Tiare Snow
Fun fact: we don’t all love our jobs. We don’t all wake up in the morning and think ‘gosh I can’t wait to get into the office’, or ‘geez I’m looking forward to putting on my overalls and working 12 hours in the 50 degree heat.’ We don’t all grab the broom and mop and think ‘wow I’m glad I have another opportunity to clean up someone else’s shit’, or ‘damn I love office politics, can’t wait to see what upper management has decided to change today’, etc.
(Such a fun true fact, right?)
Some of us are working because we have to, some because we choose to, some because we love to.
The money is the big driver, right? Especially out here in the mines. It’s the above average award wage that keeps us all coming back. It’s the hefty pay check that makes me turn up to a job every day that if the money wasn’t so good, I probably wouldn’t choose to do if I lived anywhere else..
But I do choose. I choose to come to the job every day because I like the money and because it’s not a terribly awful job. My job does not make me miserable. I guess I’m lucky. What makes me miserable is coming to a workplace where everyone is moping around; Where nobody has anything positive to say and people aren’t even aware of how their resting face is actually the most miserable thing to look at each day. You know that face I’m talking about? That face that distracts you from whatever it is they are complaining about because their face has become a lump of playdough with a sad clown frown shape cutter pressed into it. Yeah, that face.
I am responsible for my own actions, behaviour and attitude. I don’t expect that everyone dance around like a clown for my sake. I expect them to do it for their own sake, and allow me to be the collateral “damage” of their happiness. I’m a big believer in fake it till you make it. I believe in leaving your shit at the door and using the workplace as a second opportunity to feel good, especially if things outside of work aren’t so great.
This was a big one for my team when I was a manager in the hospitality industry. So many young employees from diverse backgrounds and different family and social situations would walk through the store door after school and they would use the workplace to escape ( as did I). They had a new group, a new family when they got to work and they could joke around and get through their shift with minimal (not zero, they weren’t robots) whinging, bitching or venting. Or if they couldn’t drop it at the door, if it was stuck to them like a post-it-note saying ‘kick me’, then their five hour shift would turn into a never ending loop of customers that seemed to be purposely asking for less toasted toast and less coffee in their coffee (this is real).
I am not saying that we should pretend we aren’t frustrated or angry or not gleefully over the moon every second of our day. It’s important to use the resources the workplace provides to talk about big issues that might be bothering you (both in and out of work), this includes those water cooler chats venting about change or having a bitch in the toilets about hubby, wife or the kids. But we also have a choice to spend 75% of our day with a smile on our face. It might seem hard to find a reason to smile when that 75% of our day is spent away from our children, or not spent writing the novel inside us or studying for the career we really want, or traveling around Greece on a Vespa with our arms tied around a Greek god or goddess (I could go on and on): yep, begs the question what the hell do we have to smile about and why should we.
Just do it because it feels way better than being miserable. Because it actually lifts other people around you and if you are all smiling then you are probably all laughing at some point. You are probably more approachable and make more friends. You probably find your perspective on things change and you start noticing the good things (they might be small) but they are still good.
I’m no saint. I whinge, bitch and moan in the car on the way to work (sucks to be my husband as we carpool together). But as I walk towards my office, I count down from frown to smile. I spend the first 15 minutes of my work day greeting my team mates and the teams that work around me. I make small talk. I make jokes. Sometimes I yawn in agreeance to the early starts or tease about my early marks.
We don’t all have the luxury to lounge around on boats with chefs and nannies and bottomless wine, but we have choices. It makes zero sense to choose to be miserable at work. It’s ok to try and be happy. It’s ok to be positive. It’s not ok to beat down the people that are at least trying. We are all in this together. Work is miserable on its own, it does not require you to add to it. In turn, you are not required to let it own your attitude.
Don’t be the thing that makes work miserable.
Be the thing that makes work bearable, at a minimum.