A young lady got in touch with me on social media recently about her work woes, and I knew there was a blog stirring inside me to address this issue. She certainly isn’t alone in facing a hostile work environment. For Millennials especially, this kind of conflict can feel incredibly damaging. It’s the equivalent to the bullying many thought they were leaving behind in high school.
However, the peer-oriented (as in determining their position based upon the relative positions of their peers) culture they grew up with doesn’t leave. They don’t naturally go off and find mentors the way other generations have as a result of their being parent-centric. Youngsters as small as four months are given their own room with their own crib and left to make it on their own through the night. This consistently breaks the bond between parent and child leaving them looking for a pole at which to aim their compass. This is where they learn to attach to something not their parents. A doll. A blanket. Etc.
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Then, as soon as they can be taken, they’re packed up and shipped off to daycare while mom and dad go to work. (Understand, these are broad generalizations.) This is where they learn to attach to someone not their parent. Either another child, or a carer. Most carers are lovely people, and I don’t criticize them at all. But, they’re not the parent of the child. From daycare, it’s preschool and then you’re just plain in the system. You are separated into age groups and given one adult to rule over around 20. It is very difficult for 20 children to attach to the same adult, as there simply is not enough attention to go around. So, this is where they learn to attach to someone their age. Their peers are constant. Their peers don’t go away. Even if peers change, a new peer steps in to take the old peer’s place.
This is why when the youth graduates high school and finishes college if they decide to attend (and most of them do because that’s where their peers are) they enter the workforce and immediately seek to orient themselves to their peer coworkers.
And, it is here, in this land of vast aloneness, that strife between coworkers is incredibly tough to swallow. Because now, it’s their responsibility to make it work. Mom and dad aren’t breathing down their neck ensuring they get good grades to maintain their position. It’s just expected. But hirings and firings are all too common to the Millennial. So, a coworker being the cause of the strife is about as bad as it gets.
Up until now, they have been instantly gratified. Netflix has movies on demand. Entire seasons of TV shows are available for bingeing. Need another Xbox controller? Order it from Amazon today and it will be here tomorrow. Everything is instant. Everything except, as Simon Sinek spoke about, fulfilment in the workplace, and relationships. They don’t come with a Skip Ahead button. And with their workplace as the new battleground where they face down their challenges, they will learn about relationships and fulfilment. If they don’t, this situation will recur throughout their life. Why? Because it’s their challenge. Their own little personal gift from God, The Universe, or however you identify the Originator of life.
As humans, I do not believe we’re meant to suffer. I think most Millennials can get on board with that idea, whereas their predecessors and parents will have a tougher time accepting it. They were taught that, “Life’s not fair!” Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. It’s perfectly fair. Each one of us has the inherent ability to create the world we want to live in. So, in this situation where your co-workers are spreading lies about you or hating on you, or both, you need to first envision the life you want to live. Think long-term. This is an excellent exercise anyway for someone that is used to getting what they want right now. There is no shortcut here, and the longer you put it off, the longer it will take you to get there. Start your journey two hours later than you’re supposed to, and you’ll arrive at your destination two hours late. Simple as that.
Then, just continue working. Continue to do the things you ordinarily do, but always keep your vision in mind. Now, instead of being a boat that wanders about the high seas aimlessly, you’re a ship with wind in its sails that is making its way toward someplace specific. Your RAS (reticular activation system) will naturally kick in around this point and start to notice the things in your life that will move you away from the situation in which you currently find yourself, and toward the opportunities that will give you more of the life you want. But, building the life you want is not a, “Now I’ve arrived at my new home!” process. You fashion your life, as Tom Bilyeu says, “…brick by brick.”
Ultimately, those co-workers that hate you are there to teach you something. You must become an expert at controlling your emotions. There is a concept taught by Clarissa Pinkola Estés called Soul on Deck. Think of a ship being tossed about in a storm on the ocean. If everyone is hunkered below, morale is low. That also means that the ship will go where it may. The ship needs a crew to steer it, however. And, if one soul is willing to brave the storm and remain above, to be the soul on deck, that is a huge morale boost for everyone involved. The entire team known as Y-O-U will pull together and you’ll experience advancement in your life like never before.
Be courageous. Rise above the criticism.