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October 13, 2011


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Thanks for this powerful post! I can relate to the experience of a dysfunctional workplace that suffered from "The Emperor Has No Clothes" syndrome (an excellent analogy) and agree: it does do a number on your self-esteem and confidence in your gut feelings of truth and lies, right and wrong. I experienced my dysfunctional workplace as an abusive relationship: I wanted to make it work so badly because I believed passionately in the organization's mission that I wouldn't listen to my gut or my friends who said the "relationship" was bad news. I would find excuses for my boss and co-workers' behavior and accept half-hearted apologies only to be heartbroken again. It was one of the hardest things I did, leaving that workplace. And it started by reconnecting with my sense of self and fortifying my self-esteem - believing that I deserved better.

Marisol, you are describing something I think so many people have experienced! Maybe the worst part of it is the sense that somehow we are at fault, rather than the idea that we are in an "abusive relationship" as you so eloquently put it!

So many of us put so much of ourselves into the work that we do. The process you described for reconnecting with yourself is so important! It's one of the reasons why I think that we need to make regular time in our lives to really reflect on the reality of what we are experiencing so we can make different decisions that work better for us. It's very easy to get lost in the "abuse."

Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

Well said. I have been in a workplace that felt like an abusive relationship and though a usually resilient person, I felt slammed in my sense of reality and took a hit in my self esteem. The best thing I did was to leave that job and sick organization, but it took a long time to recover my confidence. I must say I look at work's place in my quite life differently.

Thanks, Paula. There is something really demoralizing about dysfunctional workplaces and I think it's easy for us to get caught up in some bad dynamics, particularly in the kind of economic climate we're living in. Leaving is often the best option if you can do it. And I always suggest getting out as quickly as possible.

Hi Michele,
I just discovered your blog today. I've read many helpful posts, but this one really hit me. It actually relates not to my professional situation, but my residential one.

My apartment complex had me sign a lease that outlines policies/rules that I am agreeing to practice and they are agreeing to enforce (example, no dogs allowed on premises, no smoking). I respect management by following these rules, but everyone else living here walks around with their giant dogs and they smoke and litter the building with cigarette butts--a big "screw you" to management. I feel like I have become the BAD GUY because I speak up and demand that management enforce their own rules, but they make me feel like I AM the trouble-maker, the one with the problem! Everyone else around here are the true troublemakers, the ones who break the contract that they signed. Is this crazy or what???

When I read what you wrote, "When you are a truthteller in a system that insists on telling lies, they will always try to marginalize you," and "hold fast to your truth," I teared up, because I know that I am RIGHT. They lied to me when they promised that this community would offer a certain lifestyle.

I could move out of this place, but then what? There will always be problems no matter where you go, so I feel that it's better to deal with it and stand up for what is right instead of just running away from one problem only to encounter another.

I'm printing your post and putting it on my fridge as a daily reminder to keep fighting for what I believe is right, even if the majority is against me.

Jessica, I'm so glad that this post had such meaning for you. You're right to point out that we have systems everywhere that distort reality--not just at work. As a society, I think we are really beginning to grapple with this and that the only way to do it is if we are able to stand up for what's actually going on, rather than pretending that things are one way when they are in fact another way. We need to be truthtellers in all parts of our lives. It's the only way we can build toward what we want. Good luck with your apartment complex--hopefully it all works out!

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