Be careful what you say to people – they may just listen

So…it’s been awhile. I would like to say it was self-imposed cleansing from all things technological and social media related, but the truth is that I sat back and just didn’t have anything to say. I have been tired, lazy, and drained. But that’s changing.

I’m a firm believer in not talking just for the sake of talking, which is why you will not receive daily blog posts from me and also why I will probably not write that book that I sometimes think I can.

What’s new?

Well, as I’ve both alluded to and directly mentioned, I’ve started a new job with an new organization. It’s been nothing short of a culture shock and adjustment. Do not let anyone tell you that culture doesn’t exist in an organization or that it doesn’t matter. It matters. It matters so much that I left a job because of and for it.

I have been told that I’m a good listener, but the truth is that I listen to what people say and then I am thinking one of three things: 1) How can I make a witty retort? 2) Are they trying to tell me something? ; 3) I really wish they would stop talking.

Ok, I’m not quite that bad, but sometimes it feels that way.

I DO listen to what is being said and even more to what isn’t being said. Sometimes there are subtle messages that can make a big difference in how you will handle a situation or advise someone else to handle a situation. There are often undercurrents of fear, anger, or giddiness that change the meaning to the words that are actually being said.

And then there are messages like: “If they don’t like what we are doing, then they can go work somewhere else”.

On the subtley-meter, that one is pretty low…falling into the blatantly obvious category.

I really hate when people say it. I really hate when senior management says it. And I hate it even more when HR echoes.

What it means to me is: we don’t care about the reasons that are causing you to not like working here, and we do not want to put any effort into finding out if there is something we can do about it.

I know that there are exceptions to this. If the job requires you to work a set amount of hours or do a certain task and you don’t like those things…then maybe you need to find another job that better suits your needs. We wish you all the best in that.

However, if the organization decides to make changes to programs, structures, jobs, people, transparency, irrational decision-making whatever…and there are people that are having a hard time with this, well I am fairly certain that telling them to get on board or get off the bus is not the most motivating thing. Oh sure, you’ll keep people, but they aren’t going to be staying because they saw the light. They are staying because they need to stay employed as they look for a new job.

I mentioned that I hate when senior management pulls this line, and even worse, when HR stands behind it. Well, I was there. I actually said it. And I realized that the message was for me as much as any other employee.

The truth is that I couldn’t get on-board, so I got off the bus.

I was worried about putting this out there because it sounds like such a cop-out. Shouldn’t I have stayed and fought the fight on behalf of others? Shouldn’t I have stood up and said fuck that? Maybe I could have waited to see if things (management) would change and with it the messages and attitudes.

Trust me, I thought of all those things. It still wasn’t enough for me to get past the fact that the people empowered with authority appeared to believe that everyone there was utterly disposible. I don’t mean replaceable – we are all replaceable. I mean disposable in the sense that when they are done with you, there wouldn’t be a second thought (unless, of course, you sought legal counsel).

And I do admit, that it’s a contagious attitude because I sat talking with a colleague and we were going over a recent change, or a soon-to-be released communication and we were talking about the inevitable response and I said: “oh well, if they don’t like it – they can always leave”. And that comment sat with me for the rest of the day (and then beyond), because I had to ask myself whether I actually felt that way?

And the truth is that I DID feel that way, but not towards others, but rather about my own situation. I didn’t like it and I needed to remind myself that I could always leave.

So I did.

See, I do listen. And in this particular instance I selected Door #2: “Are they trying to tell me something?”