There are situations where conflict stems from misunderstanding. A lot of situations, in fact. In my work life, tis got to boiling point yesterday.
Having been fired rather unceremoniously by email & seeing that my employment contract had been violated on two separate occasions over the last 2 months, my assumption was that there was a deliberate attempt to screw me over.
A cloud has been hanging over me these last few days as a result. I thought these actions were malicious. It seemed there was a real concerted attempt to ‘make an example’ to the rest of the team, to make the firing as harsh (and illegal) as possible. Yet this is unfair.
The reasons were legitimate: a clear lack of motivation & low quality of work. Those I have no issue with. They are symptoms of my decision to head towards the exit a few months earlier (whilst carrying on at work a few months to plan my next move). I didn’t buy into the vision, hated our boss & became deeply unhappy with my work. This started to show through a little too visibly in my work.
A few days later, after a meeting with my boss, the contract violations were not known to him & are currently being resolved. I trust he was being honest.
But why, then, did I jump to the conclusion that the company had deliberately violated my contract upon my firing? Am I somebody that tends to mistrust others? See the worst in them? No. Therefore, what factor was at play hear for me to jump to such a harsh conclusion?
Our company culture. A culture that I had watched for 4 months become more & more toxic, largely stemming from the top. A lack of trust, a lack of empathy & conflict bubbling under the surface.
It is in this context that misunderstandings, rather than honest conversations, occur.
It is when you see other examples of malicious behaviour that you start to accept that as the rule. You start, even, to expect such behaviour.
It would be too easy to make the argument that I jumped to a conclusion out of anger or pride, but it’s simply not true. Being fired has come as a relief. My plan was always to leave this month, so I have a plan in place & a month paid leave to work on my future.
It is harder to admit that there are systemic problems within a company culture that need to be addressed immediately.
The lesson I take away is this: If you are a positive person & you find yourself thinking so negatively, then alarm bells should start ringing.
Where your thoughts tend to turn to the worst case scenario, where trust breaks down, where you start disliking others around you, then you are in a toxic environment.
Where misunderstandings become commonplace because you no longer expect the truth or you expect the worst in people, then you are in a toxic environment.
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard P. Feynman
The only option left to you at that point is to leave. Nothing will change. Don’t waste your time. Some people waste months – even years – hoping it will.
Culture is very difficult to influence, let alone radically change, so ask yourself whether you are willing to fight the fight or whether it’s time to throw in the towel.
Stop making excuses to yourself. Stop entertaining thoughts that things might improve. That maybe people will change. That maybe things will change with that promotion or pay rise. You are fooling yourself.
Don’t be a fool.