It’s been a scary Mary few weeks of death and mourning. It appears that the nation didn’t just say goodbye to Maggie last week, at points we were at risk of waving adios to our humanity. Grief does funny things to us – denial, anger and blame, relatively healthy responses in comparison to the failure to mourn. Not being able to say goodbye to things is a real problem, the basis of depression if you’re a follower of Freud, keeping us suspended in long gone eras and organisations. No surprise then that last week V was not for Vendetta, rather Vulnerability and Very unlikely to change.
I’ve been feeling like a Marxist Miss Havisham recently, unable to grasp a very changed workplace reality. Apparently unions are dead, silly, move on. I’m technically not paid enough to mount a defense of unions as organizations, but my eyes do tend to bleed thinking about what that statement really means about the hundreds of thousands of unpaid reps and members who are still trying to do something about it. It’s true that we’ve lost a lot in the recession, but before we dance gimp-like around the funeral pyre of our own careers lets try to work out if it really is over.
One of the reasons why we get locked into times gone by is the lack of realism in the way that we talk about work. This is true in the papers, in academia and unions talking about issues that most working people don’t recognise. I don’t wake up thinking ‘oh lord, how to bring about organisational renewal today?’ rather I’m morbidly preoccupied with trying to get on with people and deal with real issues like bullying and how to stretch out my food budget. Our organisations are obsessed by their own decline, in a prolonged period of narcissistic withdrawal and censorship. This is a period of denial, an institutional epoch of La-la-la-we-can’t-hear-you. This means that People with O-Pinions (POPs, hahahahaha do you see what I’m doing there, kids?), often act like really bad guerrillas, chucking mental fire bombs and then running like scared chickens in the other direction. Nobody wants to talk about what’s happening to work.
So, I have taken the advice of a digital entrepreneur about how to rebrand Surviving Work in a way that can actually help people to do that. This non-mentor is rather shiny and young and doesn’t carry the baggage of the 1980s into work every day, and this, was his advice to me.
Lighten the hell up and start talking to people. Oh, and ditch the black.
Having spent the last two years developing an approach to mental health at work, gigging around the UK’s workplaces arguing in favour of such popular themes as getting angry and how to stop being successful, Surviving Work is ready to come out. Over the next few months Surviving Work will be hanging out with the cool kids on the twittersphere – trying to make friends and find out how we can collectively survive work.
Follow us, talk to us, tell your friends and send us your top tips for surviving work @survivingwk
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