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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lately a friend n I, let's call her Reiko, were talking about our P.

I heard from Reiko that someone in the staff had gotten in trouble with the P for something trivial, hairstyle or shoes, I think. Duh

Apparently the P had gotten worked up enough to threaten the staff with an extended probation. "I can delay your confirmation if I want! I can extend your probation!" [I'm not sure of the exact words, having heard this from a third party, so don't quote me on this]

My friend was thus, out of concern, trying to tell me to 'take care of myself' by making sure my hair was tied during work hours, and that I was wearing the appropriate footwear and everything, lest I suffer the same fate as aforementioned colleague.

Now I'm not trying to comment on anything about the P or her abilities. What struck me was the perceived power that was held in the superior's hands.

If I could ask a question to any of the staff with the same line of thinking, I think I would ask, "Why are you so afraid of this person?"

The P cannot kill me. Cannot physically hurt me. Not going to rape me, physically torture me, or inflict any bodily harm onto me.

Could the P affect my salary? Sure, but I still have a job, I still have money coming in. After all, I'm still coming to work, I'm still performing my duties, and I'm not committing any of the major sins of my line. She could possibly set back my career for a year or so, but I'm young. I'll survive in this industry long after she does. And even if I don't, I'll branch out, or I'll jump somewhere. I will find a way to survive.

Could she destroy my pride, my ego, my dignity? Only if I let her do so.

When it comes down to it after all, the power that this person holds over me is a superficial kind of power at best. She owns neither my body nor my soul.

Why then are people so afraid of her at the workplace?

I think it's because we allow her to believe that she has control over us. When you look at it, why is it she can only threaten to extend the probation period of the person, instead of termination, or death? Because that is all there is within her power to do. And it's a weak kind of threat as well.

Admittedly, I'm in a better position than others, and there are several reasons why such a threat would not affect me as much as others.

1. I'm young. So what if my promotion is delayed by a year? I still have about 40 over years in front of me. Taken in such a perspective, a year is a pretty short time.

2. I have no dependents. My parents are still working, I'm not married and I have no kids. I don't even have a dog. :p

3. I'm pretty well educated to have other options in front of me. And to know what are the opportunities in front of me.

4. My industry constantly suffers from a lack of people. And it's not as volatile as the private sector is.

So I find it amusing that people think that I should be afraid of this one person in my life. Sticks and stones, babes, sticks and stones.

But my attitude is probably the minority. Even within my industry, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who thinks this way. I think most people will be like Reiko and advise me to toe the line, for heaven's sake.

I think this is because of the importance we place on things like job security, advancement, salary and others. Because they are important to us, we steer away from anything that threatens them. And we do all we can to protect what we have.

But does there comes a point where we overestimate the threat posed on these items? That's like when someone decides to blow up a plane with hair gel and anything of a liquid nature becomes banned from all airlines all over the world. Overreacting? Sure enough, but can we recognise it when we are doing it to ourselves?

I did speak to the threatened colleague before I even heard of this incident. I remember her views on the P, which went something like

"What can she do to me? I know I'm doing my job. I know that I'm not committing any great crime while I am doing it. Whatever I do, my conscience is clear. If she wants to fire me, so be it. I'm not cut out for this line, and I'll find something else to do."

If my conscience is clear, so be it. No one has power over me, except that which I allow them to have.


Anonymous said...

Bucky takes offence to the dog comment :p

Anonymous said...

A dog's miffed ego aside.. i find this true in my office as well. There is too much of the sit back and just hurl complaints and insults at the boss behind his back and not much doing anything about it in terms of communicating the problem. I am often willingly conned into being the one to take action. But this is detrimental to your health if your boss has a fragile ego and is terribly insecure, this is particularly bad in a creative job as almost anything goes as the 'right' way to do your job. i think i've built a reputation of being difficult but also as someone who wouldn't stand for nonsense and this benefits everyone. This is fine tightrope to tread.. and yes i agree that if u have little to lose it is much easier. So for all of us who have the strength to swim upriver here, make sure you have the strength to stay there.