I don’t think we’re honest enough in business, or in life but this blog is about work. We’re all so caught up with keeping up with the Joneses or in saving face but what does that actually help?
There is, of course, a need to remain ‘professional’ whatever that means, and we also need to ensure we don’t overshare and make people uncomfortable. Like, ‘here comes Tina into the tearoom about to tell us in graphic detail about her IBS’ – no thanks, Tina.
What I mean by saving face or keeping up with the Joneses is this desire to portray absolutely everything about our jobs, or our businesses as perfect. Again, I’m not saying to be a moaning Myrtle about things but why not be at least realistic. It surely can’t be good for you to pretend everything is perfect when it isn’t.
Here is a typical example:
‘How’s business, Joan?’ Asked Lee.
‘Oh brilliant, I am just so busy!’ Says Joan.
*Little does Lee know, Joan hasn’t had paid work in months and isn’t sure how she’s going to pay her mortgage.*
Ok so that’s a little extreme but the point remains that saving face to this extent just cannot be healthy for Joan. Also, maybe if Joan admitted to Lee that things had been slow for her recently he might be able to help in some way. Of course context and their relationship makes a difference but please, lets try and be more honest. Is it any wonder so many people are struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety and depression when they potentially feel like the only person that they know who isn’t succeeding? Social media is rife for this as many have pointed out, seeing the idealised version of people’s lives, their utopic workplaces and stepford families is enough to make anyone feel inferior.
Don’t let it get you down though, you’re not the only one struggling as much as it might seem that way sometimes. Maybe if you’re more honest with your friends, family and co-workers, you’ll find that they do the same and we can all start having real conversations, and helping and supporting each other.
I know that it might seem scary and pretending you’re fine is a hard habit to break, it is the British way after all, stiff upper lip and all that.
With that in mind, I’ll start; I’ve just gone independent and I’m scared.
Yes, I’m excited but I’m also nervous. I’ve gone from knowing I’ll be paid on the same day every month to hoping I have a good enough reputation and network to ensure that I’ve got regular work. I’m fortunate though, as I know I have a great support network of people who I can be real with, who I can ask for help from, and who can be relied upon to celebrate with me or commiserate with me.
Try opening up. Don’t accidentally (or otherwise) make people feel like the only ones that are living less than perfect lives.
I’d love to know your thoughts.