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Is it taught in the top-tiered B-school that losing humanity is a virtue?
The corporate world glorifies barbarism and detachment in a delighted manner. Are you telling us that ‘no strings attached’ and professionalism are on the same page? It’s not. There was this day at the office when I nearly fainted on the washroom floor, holding myself up not to pass out completely, and there were these beautiful ladies in their magenta lipsticks and tucked in shirts. One by one passing by me with their rock-solid footsteps like I was some lifeless object lying on the floor. They didn’t bat an eye. It led to me thinking the entire time if they were blind or was I invisible. It is entirely understandable when the chips are down, people chicken out. But the chips were not down this time. It was a very normal day with a normal human being lying of pain on a normal floor. The only person who had reached out to me for some help was the cleaner. It was not her job too. The greater pain than the actual physical pain were those flashes of corporate stigma towards empathy. The professional stink of an act of cowardice burnt my nasal passage.
For the first time in my life, I could understand the meaning of cold-blooded and stone-hearted; and trust me, it’s not ‘Ramsay Bolton’ from Game of thrones. It’s these people in the corporate world who don’t care. The least you could is to ask someone if they are okay or not. That is certainly not going to cost a demotion, I must assure. Somewhere, we all know the story is not about a single incident. It is about the everyday struggle of people slogging away to meet deadlines, reaching on time, typing down emails, joining meetings, pressing the keys for a piece of code, and the list goes on. But, mostly underpaid, and underappreciated. But, no one complains or raises a voice – for retaining their peace of mind. The least someone could expect is to be treated kindly—both in professional and personal life. No one decides to fall sick on specific days in a year. It is not even pre-decided that someone will be going back home on August 19th, at 10:30 am for an exact week. Because that someone, of course, doesn’t know if he/she is going to survive one more day. Time and again, corporates are proving that their profits, their earnings, productivity, rankings are all going in vain if their people are becoming cold. The infrastructure might be a factory, but human beings are not robots or machines to be treated in this manner.
It is so ironic that companies are conducting engagement activities, trainings, learning plans and are also dropping emails for mental health awareness and stability of mind, but deep down, it requires a root cause analysis. We can start by asking the 5 WHY analysis – Why are executives or the staff functioning in a monotonous manner? Why has it been like this from time immemorial? Why can’t the system be more flexible and empathetic towards its employees? Why are the employees showing lack of empathy? Why is there a boundary or a difference between being an employee and being human?
There is undoubtedly an HR team, people’s manager, people’s executive for any kind of personal problem, but they all are functioning like clocked timers. There is a standardized protocol for everything. The way you walk, talk, eat, type, and almost everything in the office. Yes, everyone must maintain decency, and no one is influencing anyone to fall asleep during office hours on the desk, but this is about reaching out to someone when a person has issues—reaching out to colleagues for even smaller things like feeling dull or sad. Not just when someone has a nervous breakdown, and it has already reached the saturation level.
Somewhere, we have a greater responsibility in this corporate world. At a very individual level. Like smiling and greeting and asking if someone needs help or observing if our colleague had a rough day and needs someone to talk to. If we could help anyone in a certain manner or any small activity, setting boundaries with people who cross lines, not joking about someone in an offending way. There are so many things to take at a grass-root level. Smaller things lead to big ones. One’s behavior will have an effect on their colleagues, then the team, then the entire project leading to the entire company. In all this process of earning and staying detached in our professional life, it is taking a great toll on our mental health because we invest a minimum of 45 hours per week in an organization. The statistics are real. The graph of the number of suicides in just one workplace is exponentially increasing. Yes, “In one workplace.” What about distress due to workplace and occupational stress? It’ll be more challenging to keep track. The least we can do is to be ignorant about it, let that insensitivity seep in and suck the humanity out of us. Let that catchphrase never be used again that it’s not my problem. She is lying on the bathroom floor- It’s not my problem. He’s sitting there with a sadness evident on his face- It is also not my problem. It is our problem. Together, we can create changes in our work environment and make the workplace warmer and happier than before. It is going to be challenging to break the flow of negligence which has been going on from years now on, but it is going to be worth it. No one needs to suffer silently without being asked for once in the workplace. Starting to empathize will be gradually normalized with time if we all could bring it into practice with utmost dedication. Let us not walk by people like we never notice them. This doesn’t depict strength. It depicts a lack of courage, understanding, and sensitivity.
This has been an issue that has been normalized so much that everyone has stopped noticing. Even the people seeing have remained silent on this. Let’s not forget how to be kind, compassionate, and considerate in the name of professionalism. Let’s stop behaving as per the human-made protocol that needs one to be ruthless and emotionless to sustain in the corporate world. Losing values and character was never the agenda. If, after reading this, you’re still wondering what’s the point here, then let me tell you that we’ll die a better person than we are right now, and that’s an achievement in our invisible CV of getting a job in HEAVEN for sure. May the force be with sensitive and kind people. It’s okay to cry, to feel, to help, to encourage, to motivate, to love, to hug, to be there for everyone in this so-called corporate world. It’s not okay to bash, to envy, to stop, to shake hands formally but stab with a knife in the backs, to judge, to overlook, to ignore and to tell people to be heartless. BE THE CHANGE.
Featured Image Credits: Shanmukha Sai Uppala