This year marks the 10th year anniversary of my working life. It seems not so long ago that I stepped out of the university, fresh and ready to take on the world. I was driven, curious and hungry for success back then. Yet now, I feel like a spent force, jaded and weary of my journey. So many things have happened to me for the past 10 years, both good and bad, and they have inevitably shaped my character and thoughts.
I like my current job because of the opportunity to make significant impact in the industry I am working in. Yet, I came to realize that there is another side of the job equation that cannot be decoupled, and that is human relationships. Having the soft skills to deal with day-to-day issues are important in career success and unfortunately, this is not taught in school. Through the years, I came to realize that successful people are those with strong Emotional Quotient (EQ) and they tend to get ahead than those who are smarter or technically stronger. And this is the area which I fare the worst – the ability to manage my emotions.
For the past few years, I have lost my temper in office on a number of occasions and my bosses had noticed my outbursts. On hindsight, I should have kept my cool and swallow my pride. But in moments of madness, I let my emotions got the better of me, much to my regrets later. Perhaps its due to the work stresses. Perhaps its due to the pressing project deadlines. But no matter what, I recognize that this is a worrisome problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it can cost my career.
One of the things that annoys me the most is when unhelpful co-workers intentionally direct work to me or create obstacles for me to overcome. The golden rule I am beginning to learn is not to response immediately and instead, walk away and take a 5 minute break. Such an action will help to “time-out” from direct confrontations and allow me to calibrate a more level-headed response.
The second lesson is to either call the person or best still, talk to to him or her face to face to thrash out the issues. Emails or text messages is generally a poor form of communication tools and very often lead to misunderstandings.
It is a competitive world out there and sadly, in my work-place, my colleagues don’t believe in the importance of returning favors. On many occasions, I have helped them out on small issues yet they don’t reciprocate in kind. A classic example happened a couple of weeks ago when one of my colleagues was involved in a traffic collision accident. He immediately texted the rest of the team for help relating to office work as he would be on urgent leave the following day to settle his car issue. All of us, including me, promptly assisted him. However, the following week, he conveniently forgot to repay my goodwill and even directed me a job task which was assigned to him by my boss. The task was quite simple and straightforward but I thought the least he could have done was to settle for me as I had helped him out. Anyway, drawing from my previous experiences, I kept my cool and took up the job. I can forgive, but I don’t forget.
The above incident is definitely not an isolated case and I have rendered help to colleagues who went for no-pay leaves and part-time arrangements. There was even one who claimed he could not take up overseas traveling assignments because of medical condition and I had to take over his project. None of them had expressed gratitude to me after favors had been granted to them. I supposed people tend to take things for granted but even the best metal will wear out one day, not to mention human’s tolerance.
Due to my unhelpful colleagues, my boss often transfers unwanted tasks to me because I am viewed as a “yes-man”. At times, I felt overwhelmed by work and felt victimized. How do you reconcile the fact that what you do are unrecognized and unappreciated? I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate this kind of working environment but I am definitely reviewing my options.
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