Thursday, October 16, 2008

i meant to do that

So, I recently went through a little corporate training. It wasn’t about products, new systems/technology, or new developments in the company. Unfortunately, it was one of those sappy (aka: completely useless) trainings about workplace acceptance/diversity/conduct. While I applaud my company’s good intentions and the efforts of the facilitator and other involved, I walked out of that room with a churning in my stomach and a bad taste in my mouth.

For starters, it wasn’t serious sensitivity training where complex issues about workplace prejudice and true discrimination are discussed, it was about smaller things. Literally! It was about how the tiny nuances, gestures, etc. (that we are unaware we are doing) can impact those around you. First of all, duh! But more importantly, who cares?

Newsflash people! Life sucks sometimes, people don’t like you, and your feelings are going to get hurt. It’s called the real world! I don’t walk around the halls of my office expecting a pat on the butt and a high five from everyone who walks by. I don’t expect a chest bump and thumbs up from everyone in the elevator. It’s great to have friends at work, but as long as maintain, at the very least, a cold civility, I have no problems with you. I don’t expect my boss and/or coworkers to hold my hand, feed me my lunch, and make sure everything’s coming up daisies for John.

As far as the messages we are ‘unaware we are sending,’ a good 9 times out of 10 my little underlying messages I send with my body language and gestures are INTENTIONAL! If a picture is worth 1,000 words, one glaring look is probably longer than the last Harry Potter book. I can’t just go around my office calling coworkers idiots. Instead, you talk in a condescending tone so they get the idea that you think they’re an idiot.

Finally, most reputable companies (mine included) have an HR department that can deal with any major or slight discriminatory practice by a coworker, whether it’s your boss, subordinate, or peer. Do we really need to be branding everyone at work quasi-psychologists who are now going to be overanalyzing every raised eyebrow, hand gesture, and subtle undertone? I have a little corporate training of my own; it’s called “Toughin’ the Hell Up.”

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