As the child of alcoholics, I grew up intimately acquainted with dysfunctional family dynamics and their impacts on me. I've spent a lifetime trying to overcome these effects, as a matter of fact.
The other day, I was talking with a friend about her dysfunctional workplace and for some reason I was reminded of how I felt in my family. It hit me how, even as adults, we can be pulled into the dysfunction of the workplace as surely as we may have felt it in our families.
One of the most insidious features of family dysfunction is what I call "The Emperor Has No Clothes" syndrome. In my family, I was notorious for this. I would hear my parents say one thing, but see them doing another. When I called them out on this inconsistency, they would tell me that what I was seeing wasn't really true. In other words, they were denying reality.
This goes on in workplaces all the time. We are told that a company values teamwork or learning or "creative thinking," but then all the policies, procedures, rewards, systems and interactions with colleagues belie this message. We are being told one thing, but being treated in an entirely different way.
When you are raised in a family that consistently employs this kind of behavor, it distorts your own sense of reality. You begin to question what you see.
This dynamic also keeps you questioning yourself. You learn that you can't rely on your own observations and intuition to tell you the "truth" of the matter. This does a number on your self-esteem that's hard to imagine, especially when you're in the middle of it.
I've observed when the workplace distorts reality in this way, it can have the same impacts on us as family dysfunction. After all, we spend as much time at work as we do with our families. A huge amount of our identity is tied up in work and, if we really NEED that job, our sense of security is found through work as well. So it's not surprising that dysfunctional work would have similar impacts on us.
Here's the thing.
When you are a truthteller in a system that insists on telling lies, they will always try to marginalize you.
They will challenge your reality and try to make you feel as though there is something wrong with YOU, rather than with their system of doublespeak.
Do not let them win.
Hold fast to your truth because it is only by knowing reality that we can build something better.
We must know and tell the truth of our situation in order to move from that to a vision of something new. If we allow the system to deny what we know to be true, then we are colluding in our own oppression. This is not the way forward.
Remember. It's not you. It's your dysfunctional workplace. . .