After reading Chapter two of , “Work abuse: How To Recognize and Survive It”, by Hare and Wyatt, for the 5th time, I could have sworn it writes about today. It’s relevant now. I am not the author, so I can merely write my interpretations of what I’ve read.
I’ve previously written blogs about my work experiences; mostly negative ones. I’m tempted to take them down for fear of what those blogs must say about me. Don’t get me wrong; those situations did injure me. I was not treated right in my mind. But were the people who carried out acts against me really conscious of what they were really doing? Were they conscious of the impact they had on me? After reading about norms today, I suspect not.
I asked someone once, who had offended me, if she could put herself in my shoes for a moment. She said she had never been able to do that. I’m guessing she is not a very aware person; particularly of the consequences of her actions, and how they may affect others.
At work, we are often this unconscious. We obey the norms of the organization or work group, often without hesitation. For example, about competition among coworkers. I think the book questions if fierce competition between employees or managers is productive. We accept it, and comply. We obey even if at first, we disagree. What about the norm of silence? We read from the Challenger accident, as referenced in the book, that this norm can destroy people’s lives, while throwing a lot of money, hopes, and dreams down the drain. Why do these situations happen? Peer pressure is one reason. There are many reasons. The system that is in place has to change, but no one person can change it.
I read that people are really not to blame in the system. It is hypnotic, pervasive, impossible to ignore, yet we rarely realize it exists. It is a top-down, authoritarian system, according to a man named Deming, as referenced in the book, who researched Japan and America–the workforces–side-by-side.
The system punishes us if we do not obey. I learned that because I could never really follow the norms. I was getting beaten down, time after time. I gave up so many of my ideals, beliefs at work, but I clung to some, and it was noticeable enough to my coworkers. In my opinion, the norms in most workplaces are dysfunctional. That means to me that I’d be dysfunctional to actually assimilate and eventually enforce those norms on other coworkers, according to what I interpret from the book.
Survival for me was to act as if everything was normal, because I couldn’t adopt the belief system that the people I worked with had. That worked for years. Coworkers caught on eventually, and this is one reason I believe the time of being treated well ended.
it is implicit– it is mainly a silent process. My situation big news, compared to the Challenger accident, but it did hurt deeply. After many years of one job I am left with a terrible social anxiety. It’s getting better, but not without help.