Baggage In The Workplace
We all have baggage. Some have unpacked that baggage and gone through it, but many have not. And even if you have unpacked and gone through it, you still have the baggage. Let me be clear – when I say you’ve unpacked your baggage, I mean you or your insurance company has spent thousands of dollars working through your baggage with a licensed therapist. One result, if you went to a good therapist, is that you now have a lot less to carry. You’ve worked through it and tossed a lot of it; you didn’t need it any longer. Another result is that for your remaining baggage you now have a better idea of what buttons push your baggage open.
We won’t ever get rid of all our baggage – it’s a part of us, a part of our history. But we can learn to control our reactions when someone is pushing our buttons. Simply by recognizing that something pushes our buttons, we can tell ourselves “Oh, I know why I’m reacting as strongly as I am to this.” – I’m not reacting to the particular individual in front of me, I’m reacting because of my baggage. It’s not the fault of the unsuspecting person in front of you, so take a deep breath and ask yourself if the person is really saying/doing anything intentionally disrespectful. If so, then it’s an opportunity to practice your skill of dealing with conflict in a respectful manner. If not, then recognize it as a baggage reaction, move on, and respect the individual you are communicating with at the time.
Model employees have enough self-awareness that they are able to keep their baggage locked up while they are in the workplace. If your baggage falls out sometimes, consider seeing a therapist to work through it. Baggage that keeps falling out DOES impact your performance on the job. Many companies provide EAP services (sometimes 5-8 sessions for free) or talk to your friends who may be able to recommend someone. You want someone who you are able to connect with and who specializes in the area of your particular baggage.
Life comes with all sorts of emotional ups and downs. The challenges can seem somewhat daunting, but don't have to adversely damage your career. Remember, everyone has baggage, people just deal with it differently. If you recognize that your baggage is weighing you down, be bold and seek help. You'll be happier and so will those around you.
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