I cry at work. Not everyday, but I have definitely cried in front of colleagues. What follows is not confession, nor self-congratulation, more just a recognition that I’ve started to embrace the tearful side of my own workplace.
What got me thinking was a quote Max stuck on Chatter (our internal comms platform):
organizations are, fundamentally, mysteries and miracles of human relatedness; they are living systems, alive and embedded in ever widening webs of infinite strength and limitless human imagination. In short organizations are universes or centers of connected strengths
I’m not entirely sure on the context and purpose of the quote, but something relating to emotions stood out for me, particularly “miracles of human relatedness”. Made me think of my own relationship with work, and my increasing ability to feel quite raw emotion within work situations; again, without wanting to turn this blog post into a confessional, I won’t dwell on the specifics, but recently in discussions with colleagues I’ve noticed my eyes glazing and either intense feelings of happiness, sadness or despair. I’m not sure if this is a product of the environment (we’re encouraged to talk about our feelings a fair bit at NM), or my own emotional state, but either way I kind of love being able to really feel what I’m feeling in a work context.
DISCLAIMER: I’m fully aware of how wanky this is all sounding.
Aside from being able to be honest and let people know what’s on my mind, being emotional means that I can be more aware of the emotions of people I work with outside of NM. While technically a geek interested in networks and data, 100% of my work is dealing with the very human impacts that technology has within and around large organisations. And this is where I come back to Max’s quote above – regardless of size or industry, all of my clients are people with feelings, working within living systems.
Well I’m hoping the idea of admitting I cry at work is still a fairly odd one. Many of my friends have ‘normal’ jobs in ‘normal’ organisations, and whenever I talk about the more emotional side of my own workplace, they are fascinated and mocking in equal measure. It’s weird I guess. And worrying. People don’t cry unless they’re hugely upset (or hugely drunk), and so what place does it have in work?
It’s this question that intrigues me, for we’re all super happy moaning about our jobs, and perhaps some of you reading this have cried behind closed doors or in the toilet, dreading a particular meeting or simply feeling intense stress over a deadline or target – but how many would feel comfortable expressing raw emotion in a meeting with senior colleagues, or dealing with a client who was distraught? Obviously workplace stress is no new subject, and I’m definitely no expert, but as someone working at the point where technology and organisational culture meet, I think it’s important we acknowledge the emotions that change can bring.
Twitter, data, mobile etc are all wonderful, and I’m definitely one of those people excited to be alive at a time when technology is doing amazing things to the way we live, but I’m also aware of how unsettling it can be for some. For every social meedja case study lauded by wallies like me, there’s a swathe of people worried about job security and their ability to cope with this connected new world. For every social network to rise and fall, there’s a human skill-set made redundant. I hope that by talking about this darkside, and the feelings it can illicit, that we can all be more adult and open about the fears we all have about this amazing and bewildering technological march. And if crying at work means we alleviate a little bit of stress, and form closer bonds with colleagues, then tears can only be a good thing.
There is no real point or conclusion to this post, other than to out the topic and perhaps encourage some conversation.
This post was filed under Working culture
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