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Keep Your Emotional Baggage Out of the Workplace

Keep Your Emotional Baggage Out of the WorkplaceAnyone who's been in the workforce for a while knows there is no panacea out there. There are all kinds of issues to deal with and stress about:

  • Competition over jobs, promotions, raises, recognition, resources.
  • Global competition for every revenue dollar and point of market share.
  • Conflicts and issues with bosses, employees, peers, and pretty much everyone else.
It's that last one that sort of sticks out because, while conflict and confrontation can be healthy, far too many of us make it far more difficult than it has to be. And that's what makes the other two issues - internal and external competition - so much harder and more stressful.

Yeah, I know, I'm always saying how the workplace is a veritable Petri dish of conflict and issues. That's true. But what's also true is that a company with dysfunctional executive management creates a top-down culture that fosters that sort of thing. And that doesn't bode well for long-term success.

You see, we all have baggage we carry around with us everywhere we go. It's most prevalent and impactful in family life because we have an emotional connection with the people we live with day in, day out. And that evokes all sorts of unresolved and therefore buried issues from our childhood.

While it would seem that people should be able to separate those issues from what they do for a living, that's not only unrealistic but, well, we all know that's just not the way it works. That's because many, if not most, of us care a lot about our careers. Our careers are central to our own sense of self. Our livelihood means a lot to us.

That said, it behooves each one of us to channel our emotional selves into our work in as positive a way as we reasonably can. It's good for us, good for our coworkers, and good for the company. To do that, we have to be aware of how we're behaving.

I know that's easier said than done, but before we just throw in the towel and call it a day, here are 10 Signs You're Bringing Your Baggage to Work:

  1. You're a professional victim, i.e. there's always a reason why things don't go your way and it's always somebody else's fault.
  2. You feel threatened by coworkers, i.e. they're out to get you.
  3. You think your opinion is more important than anyone else's.
  4. You have to be right; you're always right.
  5. You take yourself way too seriously.
  6. You're a perpetual whiner, complainer, a negatron who's always finding the fault in everything and everybody.
  7. You disingenuously agree with people just so you don't have to deal with them.
  8. You stress and are compulsive about everything.
  9. You're your own worst enemy, always shooting yourself in the foot.
  10. You're in complete and total denial about any or all the above.
To that last point, lots of readers tell me that the people who most need to hear this stuff aren't likely to be reading or buying into this blog. True. But that's not the only way to influence people. People are influenced by their bosses, mentors, 360 degree feedback, spouses, friends, all kinds of people and processes. So don't be such a negatron.

If you do happen to recognize yourself in this post, get some help. Seriously. You'll be happier ... and so will everyone who has to deal with you every day.

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Image: kthread via Flickr
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