I’ve struggled with cynicism in almost every job I’ve worked and to be honest it can be very hard work. It can rob you of the good times at work, isolate you and make it very difficult to find motivation.
The conventional advice—usually given by happy go lucky self-helpers—goes something like this: suck it up, think happy thoughts, tell yourself your awesome, maybe just agree to agree and whatever you do, do not hangout with negative sorts. I’ve tried this, if you’re a true cynic it doesn’t help, but all is not lost, there are solutions. Admittedly, they’re not perfect, I still struggle but they do help:
1. Accept how things are
Workplace cynics see the hypocrisy and injustice in a company and generally want to make things better, or at least cannot stand to listen to all the BS. However, all this fighting just wears you down. So, my first recommendation is just accept the world and your company as they are.
Accepting doesn’t mean buying in to all the hype or condoning what happens. It just means choosing not to get emotionally involved in everything. Just let it go … the bad stuff is just one side of human nature and you can’t fix it all. In fact if you can just fix one little corner of the world or your company that is probably pretty amazing.
2. Find the beauty in your job
Every job has some beauty in it and it often hides in the seemingly mundane. For instance, if you write reports then find beauty in the turn of phrase, the layout and the structure. It sounds unlikely, I know, but if you can focus completely on the work at hand and ask yourself “what does it really mean to do a good job” then often you find it.
3. Put you job in perspective
Think about what you care about. For me that’s my family, friends, me, the world and my life with all of them, and no matter what happens at work today, none of that really changes. Instead of worrying about the work crap you don’t really care about, consider everything else. I know that’s easier said than done. So, here’s two ways to get there:
- Ask yourself what happens if I lose my job: For me, in the very worst case, I move back with my parents, spend more time with the people I love, develop a new skill set and grow some vegies… not the end of the world.
- Meditate: Seriously, this helps. When it works well all the workplace dramas become curious little jokes.
4. Don’t argue , reserve judgement, be honest and subvert playfully
You’re a cynic, so you are always going to see things and feel a need to say something, but starting a never ending argument doesn’t achieve anything. Instead, you can try a bit of playful subversion. When a colleague is talking about the ‘amazing’ opportunity the company has just given them, ask them about it, test their perceptions but in a positive way and if you still think they’re actually getting done, just keep that to yourself…. If you really do need to say something, for instance if the manager just gave you an ‘amazing’ opportunity, that you don’t really want, then say so but say it in person and without any of the personal accusations.
Cannot emphasis this enough! It just feels good.