Nothing provokes strong feelings quite like a loss of control. It doesn’t always mean negative feelings, but more often than not…it does. Removing the ability to choose seems to make any situation more depressing and frustrating.
Whether its at work or in any situation, really, having even the smallest detail of choice seems to at least placate those crushing feelings of despair that come with the knowledge: I have to do this. I have no other choice. Doesn’t matter how I feel about it.
It’s also incredible to me that so few people actually see that. Lately, people seem more and more susceptible to low morale; who can blame them? So many are out of work, cost of living keeps rising instead of falling, everything calm and sane and normal that we could depend on seems to be falling apart. Its like society is finally succumbing to entropy. Anyone with the opportunity to impose control on others have been reaching out and removing more control, more choice, from their fellow people.
This only serves to make things worse. Morale declines. Have you ever noticed how many more stress induced illnesses people have these days? I really think a lot of that comes from having to face each day knowing that whatever it is you have to do to feed yourself and/or your family, it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it. It doesnt matter if they’ve imposed more controls on you, if you don’t like it, if there are things that make you uncomfortable. There was a time when jobs were relatively easy to come by. Don’t like it? Find another job and quit. Those days are over.
It seems like employers know that all too well. More and more places are asking for loads of experience and education for jobs that maybe at one time were entry level. They know they can get whatever they ask for, and they no longer have to pay top dollar to attract the kind of talent they want. They know they can pay wages that may have once been nearly insulting for an experienced professional, treat their employees shabbily, reduce benefits, and cut out any extra pluses–and you’ll still want the job. Because you really have no choice.
I really hope the economy begins to pull through, and we see an eventual end to these grim times soon. For now, even something as small as being allowed casual dress in the workplace seems like a big deal to so many who have lost their choice and control. However, sometimes even something that small isn’t really considered when thinking about the functionality of the workplace. When faced with maintaining an operational business, the customers are treated with more concern than the morale of the employees. Unfortunately, customers will often see their interaction with companies as their opportunity to take a moment of influence and control. I always try my best to remember that when dealing with any business, lately. These people I talk to, they really don’t deserve me screaming at them just because it’s my only opportunity to express my own feelings of loss.
Next time you feel you’ve been wronged by a business, write a letter to the company. Don’t yell at the poor person on the other end of the line; generally, they feel much like you do. You have the power to either make them feel like maybe they can help you, or to yell at them and add to their stress. Pass on something good today, not something bad. Smile at someone, they may not see it right away, but they just might thank you later.