Depression at Work – Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle
October 19, 2011
This summer my wife and I lost a baby.
Upon initially hearing of her pregnancy, we were elated. Our two year old daughter had been a textbook healthy pregnancy and naively we assumed that all subsequent pregnancies would be similar. Then came the worried looks. The news that we’d either lose the baby or have a child with special needs. And a week later, the news that he or she had passed.
I am a psychologist, which on paper should make this easier, right? After all, I have the tools and knowledge to ameliorate pain. But despite my best efforts at positive thinking, exercising, socializing and maintaining perspective, my level of engagement at work has suffered. I have continued to meet my clients’ needs and even roll out a handful of cool new products, but it has been a grind.
I’ve internally debated the propriety of sharing something this personal on a corporate blog for some months now and obviously my wife gave her consent before I finalized my decision. There are a few reasons I’ve decided to share this in so public a forum:
Transparency Heals – IncBlot was formed in part as a reaction to other firms that talked a good game in client facing roles but whose internal office cultures were cankered with the same subterfuge they professed to hate. We all hurt at times. The sooner we stop pretending that’s not the case, the faster our organizations will start to coalesce around the aspirational values on the poster in the hall.
Community Heals – It takes a community to raise a child, so it stands to reason that it should take a community to mourn the loss of one as well. I often hear organizations bemoan the fact that they don’t take enough time to “pause and celebrate success.” If we are slow to celebrate victories, how much less likely are we to wade through the discomfort of sadness with someone with whom we work?
Getting Out of Your Head Heals – The line in the IncBlot Talent Manifesto that raises the most eyebrows is, “No one came to work today with the aim of making your life hard. Listen. Empathize. Get over yourself.”
A phrase that may seem flippant and confrontational at first blush is actually based on a phenomenon called the “fundamental attribution error (FAE).” The FAE basically says that we ascribe others’ misbehavior to permanent states (e.g., He acted like a jerk because he is a jerk deep down to his core) while we attribute our own misbehavior to situational cues (e.g., I’m acting like a jerk because I haven’t had my coffee yet).
The net effect of operating with this bias is that we begin to believe our own misguided thinking and see ourselves as more deserving, better people than those with whom we work. Plato’s words are powerful – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” So, before you rush to judge a coworker, try first to understand where he or she is coming from, and what situational stressors might be causing them to act in a way that you find distasteful. We’re all doing the best we can but sometimes putting one foot in the front of the other becomes monumentally difficult.
Human existence being what it is, we are all blessed and cursed with reservoirs of sadness and disappointment. It is on us to decide whether we will use those to better empathize with and support those we come in contact with, or allow them to form emotional scar tissue that keeps others away.
- Daniel Crosby
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged authenticity, community, depression, Emotional Intelligence, empathy, EQ, miscarriage, sadness, support, team building, work, workplace. Bookmark the permalink.
Scientific – Our programs are based on behavioral science and developed by doctors. While other firms rely on hunches and the management theory du jour, we are rooted in the bedrock of science.
Measurable – We strive for measurable impact in all that we do and determine return on investment indicators with clients before accepting any engagement. Measurable success is what dictates our term of engagement – we work until you reach your goal and not one minute more.
Enjoyable – Our engagement style is best described as “edutainment.” We believe that people learn the most when they are having fun. Our goal is to deliver scientific, measurable services in such an enjoyable way that you won’t even realize you are growing.
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