Even though there really is no “easy button” in business, I bought four of them on Tuesday at the office supply store. Why? Because sometimes I need a distraction to remind me that I may be the one making things difficult. It’s my new “distractor” that makes me giggle when I hear it say, “that was easy.” But here’s why I bought them in the first place.
I sat in my boss’s office on Monday after being called on the proverbial carpet. He wanted to know why I was so volatile–so emotional the prior week. The truth of the matter was that I had taken it upon myself to carry the weight of the entire staff on my shoulders. I assumed the role of cheerleader and problem-solver all by myself. And being the cheerleader for an entire staff is exhausting. No wonder I was tired. Anyway, the boss man asked me one simple question that instantly put it all into perspective, “who asked you to cheer everyone up?” I slid back in my chair dumbfounded and smiled, then he smiled. “No one, not one darn person” I replied, and that’s when I discovered my “easy button” powers.
The rest of my day involved some skipping and humming. I had assumed tasks that weren’t really mine to assume. I felt the burden of personalities and problems that weren’t mine to feel. And now that I was relieved of my fictitious duties, I was liberated. I decided to back up my new found freedom with some questions to ask myself when I “get wrapped around the axle” again:
- Am I responsible for anyone’s actions or behaviors?
- Is anyone responsible for mine?
- Can I minimize the drama by recusing myself?
- Did anyone ask me for my help?
These are very simple questions, but sometimes after painful evaluation, we find that we are part of the problem not the solution. It is humbling, but until we get distracted long enough to see things for what they really are, we are desperately in need of our own personal easy button. The four I purchased last week are constant visual reminders. And lucky for me, they have an audible reminder that reels me in as well. They’re scattered throughout my office because I don’t want to forget this lesson. Hopefully I will wean myself down to three soon.
None of us are immune to office politics…unless of course, we work from home. My advice is this:
- take a step back whenever possible instead of diving right in to the mosh pit of office gossip
- insulate yourself whenever possible from the bad moods and personalities of the people around you
- develop your own “distractor” causing you to pause before reacting
It’s not rocket science, but I’m a 20-year professional who still gets stung by the gossip bee every now and then. Having an out-of-the-box plan in place beats not having one at all. And if you really get in a bind, I’ll have an extra easy button for sale in a few weeks.