I am getting worn down by the apathy of some people who can’t be bothered to communicate, are scared of human interaction or so lost in their own world that they’re wondering around the office, barely conscious.
I like to say hello to colleagues in the workplace. Some people I know and I’ll get a cheeky wink, a pleasant smile or a bit of banter. Other people I don’t know but still make the effort and it’s the latter who are the cause for this little blog.
I have checked to see if it’s just me. I’ve asked around for a sense check just to make sure I’m on firm ground here and I got a resounding thumbs up.
When I smile at you, say good morning and you look at me like I’m about to punch you….I’m not weird, you are.
When we’re in the lift together and I make a comment about the weather and you pretend you didn’t hear. Then we stand in awkward silence for the rest of the trip…I’m not weird, you are.
When I open the door for you and you walk through it like you’re Beyonce without a smile or a thank you…I’m not weird, you are.
It’s the difference between empathy and apathy. Empathy is thinking of others and apathy is disregard and indifference. Apathy is endemic in the workplace but the saddest part is, by shutting off empathy and being apathetic at work you actually switch off the very essence that makes you, the awesome being you really are.
Brene Brown said “we cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions we numb the positive emotions.” So you see, I know you can love, be kind and belly laugh. I also know you can hurt, worry and cry in pain. Switching all that off at work doesn’t make you more of a professional, it actually makes you less of a human being. I hire people not robots and it’s no surprise that Elon Musk recently said that ‘humans are underrated.’
In our Inspiring Managers program I encourage participants to lean into life and connect with others. Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. Of course there’s the occasional crazy but most folks are good people. You don’t have to switch on and off emotions at work. Learn emotional intelligence and master how to manage yourself and others.
Apart from the death penalty, the worst punishment we know of is solitary confinement. Yet many at work are condemning themselves to self-imposed solitary confinement by choosing not to make connections with others and therefore missing out on all that comes along with the gloriousness of togetherness.
Next time, say hello, smile, make eye contact and see what happens. You’ll either meet apathy and get what I’m on about OR you may meet empathy and experience the beginnings of genuine connection.