Breaking the Chain of Guilt

30 Oct 06 

The problem with working in a “friendly” office, where the company for whom you work is perhaps not so friendly and expects its staff to do more and more and more, is that the company can exploit this friendliness and create a “Chain of Guilt.” Let’s presume you work in a Credit Control department of 10 people, which includes a Team Leader and a Manager, both of whom are, relatively speaking and in the grand scheme of things, “friendly.” Although they are conscientious in the sense that they believe in “working hard” and “getting things done,” they also have a level of conscientiousness towards their underlings and do not like to see them getting too stressed out. For this reason, they will agree to taking on extra tasks from their bosses, which they will then, by virtue of their position, have to delegate to their underlings. They will delegate with a “do you mind doing this?” sort of approach, which the underlings, on account of having a friendly relationship with their Team Leader and Manager, will “happily” take on, because they will see that their Team Leader and Manager have been “put upon” and are as much victims of the Evil Corporation as they are. The underlings will take on any amount of extra work, however much stress and overtime it involves, as a result of their friendly relationship and sense of being “all in the same boat” with their Team Leader and Manager. They will do this, because they know that if they don’t, someone else in the department (which may or may not be the Team Leader or the Manager) will have to do the extra work if they don’t. They will not allow themselves to refuse extra work, because they are prevented from doing so by GUILT at the consequence of the extra work being passed on to someone else. This leads to the destructive pattern which I will call…

The Chain of Guilt

…and wherever it raises its ugly head, it must be severed!

The links in the Chain are thus…

  • Guilt!

  • Everyone takes on extra work.

  • Everyone complains (quietly, in the canteen, over tea) about the extra work.

  • Guilt leads to resentment.

  • The “friendliness” of the office is maintained, but only at a surface level – beneath the seemingly calm waters are seething, hateful currents.

  • More work… more guilt… etc.

The is only one way to break the Chain of Guilt… STOP! Refuse to take on extra work, don’t feel guilty about whoever else will have to do it… Lead by example! If you refuse, others should follow… and if they don’t… refuse to take responsibility! Refuse to be oppressed by the Chain of Guilt!

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