About jobs and chairs

Francine didn’t say a word. She looked stunned by what was just happening in this meeting. It sure didn’t stop her from thinking, though. “You’ve got to be kidding me! (…) Tell me that what Lissa just said isn’t true. (…) And the others just add to what she said! (…) I can’t believe this. (…) I’ve got to find myself another job. I can’t stay here… Not with this. (…) I really don’t fit in. It’s pretty clear now.”

If this type of situation was a common thing in every team and company, you and I would never feel that we don’t fit in at work. At least once in our life, that is. We would say things like “Bah. Here we go again...” and not really care about what comes after.

Truth is, we do get to feel uncomfortable and not at the right place, sometimes. Even more so we’ve just started out a new job. During the first weeks or so.

When we find ourselves in such awkward position, it’s like sitting on an uncomfortable chair. You just can’t stand still. You’ve got to move around. Trying to find some sort of comfort zone.

If it’s temporary, we can manage this adjustment period at work. “It’s normal.We’re just getting to know each other.” That is, until we have a good understanding of both the people we work with, and how things are done at the company we’re at.

Trouble is when after many attempts on your part to mix with your colleagues and fit in the group, you still feel like an outcast. That you don’t belong there.

Do you stay or do you go?

It’s not an easy decision to make. Generally because of the stakes and how confident you are to find a replacement job fast.

WHAT RISK ARE YOU WILLING TO TAKE?

For someone who’s confident in her resume, is resourceful and gives much value to “trying to fulfill my potential in a job (or team) that suits me”, looking for another job ASAP will be her choice. So she can quit the first one.

As, for her, the cost of wasting her time and potential in a job where she realizes she doesn’t belong is too high to pay. Even if, on the flip side, her financial situation can become unstable,temporarily.

On the other hand, for a person who doubts having a good CV, who is less resourceful and prioritizes “making sure I have a regular income” over “not wasting my time and potential in a job that’s not for me”, the decision will be different. He might try to look for another job, but most of his efforts will be put on staying in the one he just got. How? By finding all the justifications or excuses he needs to do so.

The risk of not finding the same amount of money put in his bank account, every week, being too high to take. At least, at that moment in his life. Even if it implies having to put up with behaviors – from his colleagues – that he would normally not feel comfortable around or definitely disapprove.

Which is one of the many elements we try to take into account, when we have to make this kind of decision.

Where am I in my life, professionally?”, “How much money do I need per month for_____?”, “Who do I need to care of?”, “What’s my financial situation? Do I have enough savings to cover my expenses for a least a few months? Just in case…”, “Can I afford to get a job that pays less, temporarily? While I look for a better one, where I’d feel I fit-in this time?”, “What is it that would make me say ‘I fit in’, in this next job?

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO QUIT A JOB YOU HATE OR A COMPANY YOU FEEL YOU DON’T FIT IN?

In an ideal world, your decision would be easy: you’d quit the job you’re unhappy with. Knowing that as soon as you become available, companies in your field will come after you, with a job offer in their hands.

Reality is different. As, even in industries with a high demand for certain professional profiles, you’re still in competition with other candidates. Not every job opening you read matches what you’re looking for. Not every job offer you receive matches what you need, neither. Once you get hired, not every team and manager is a good fit for you, as well.

Why? One of the reasons is that, as workers, we don’t all share the same values and interests. There are differences.

Therefore the transition period we all go through, whenever we start a new relationship. Either at work or in our personal lives. To get to know each other and find “touch points” or areas where we have a similar opinion on an issue, or a common interest about a specific topic.

Something we achieve whether by spending time together. By working on the same project. By asking each other different questions – related to work or not. By noticing how things are done and said by the team we spend time with.

SOME RELATIONSHIPS NEVER GET TO THIS POINT WHERE EVERYTHING GOES SMOOTHLY

When they start, some relationships take no time to make everyone involved feel like everything is going smoothly and we just “click” with one another. Some relations never reach that point. Things between us and the other person or group of people just keep feeling awkward.

You’re seated at a meeting or in the cafeteria with your colleagues, and all you can think of is “This chair feels so uncomfortable.” Knowing it’s what your colleagues do or say that really makes you cringe and want to leave. Not the chair you’re sitting on.

We still have to make a decision. Do we stay or do we go?

IT’S A LITTLE HARDER THAN CHOOSING BETWEEN MILK AND CREAM

Spontaneously, we don’t want to make this kind of decision. Choosing between milk and cream – to put in your coffee – is way much easier. Because both options help you take some of the coffee bitterness off.

But what does choosing between quitting and keeping a job helps you with?

It helps you deal with “I feel I don’t belong here”. A constant reminder that, deep down, what you seek is something more than what you find in the work you do, and the team you do it with.

It also helps you dealing with the long game, sort of speak.

As no work situation remains shitty forever. You’ve got what it takes to change a job that makes you feel uncomfortable, or that it’s simply not for you.

Like a chair, the job that suits you best isn’t the best one on paper. It’s the one that makes you feel you belong there, once you take it.

When you think about it, what key factors would make you say “This isn’t a kind of job for me?

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Photo by: RawPixel

Design by: Di Mellon

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