Farting in a lift

It’s not that anyone is denying that we each have an unconscious and with all the popular neuroscience going on these days small children could probably locate it on a diagram of the brain. It’s just that if you actually used the word in the workplace you could be forgiven for thinking that you’d just farted in a lift. No-one admits to it or speaks its name, preferring to bolt like young gazelles being hunted.Given that we all have one, what’s the biggie? Well it might be something to do with the irritating fact that we can’t actually know our own unconscious thoughts. Only other people can. Uh huh. Fancy that, other people can know more about us than know ourselves. Nothing unnerving about that is there now? Doesn’t make you feel like you’re constantly walking around with your skirt hitched up in your pants or suffer weed-killing-halitosis.


Workplaces are a goldmine of unconscious communications from lost files to the position of desks, everything says something about us. In clinical training people use workplace observations to develop their listening and observing skills and work out these unspoken communications. Although potentially a bit creepy, it opens you up to seeing what is actually going on but isn’t being articulated. You won’t see the unconscious report in any Annual Report, or the “5. The unconscious” on the agenda of a board meeting, but it is being lived out all the time. The question is more about whether you allow yourself to see it or not.


So what do you do once you’ve got your unconscious-radar tuned in? Well you could just keep it to yourself and in a hostile work environment probably best to keep your psychoanalytic gems to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with using what you see to understand your workplace and the people around you and leaving it at that. At some point though, those of us with psychic halitosis do need someone to tell us what we can’t see (or smell) ourselves. Sometimes we really do need other people to tell us what’s on our minds. A well-timed conversation, a hug or a strategically placed leaflet about joining a union could be a kind and unspoken response to what you’ve seen.


Download the PDF here

Listen  to the podcast here


Leave a Reply