For the Trash-Talkers, Bridge-Burners & Blessing-Blockers.
6 Minute Read
I get it. Your job irritates the crap out of you. All that work, long demanding hours, and would it kill them to give you a raise!? If you’re a woman of color, you might face constant invalidation and pressure to “prove” that you’re capable. All you want is to make decent money doing something you enjoy, and this ain’t it! You’ve got every right to flip this job the double bird and take your talents elsewhere… But, most likely, you won’t.
The Complaining Corner
For most of us, no matter how much a job gets on our nerves we aren’t quick to jump ship. It’s much more common to get into a rhythm of complacency and complaining.
A few years back, I worked in a corporate setting with a bunch of young, Black Lady professionals. We enjoyed working together, but we also spent a good deal of time commiserating over our 8 to 5 prison. It didn’t take much time for the supervisor (a high-performing micro-manager who played favorites) to take notice of what she called “the complaining corner.”
When two staff members–who were seen as the “ringleaders” of our group–resigned in the same week, things got worse. We were monitored more closely and our workload increased–anything to keep us from congregating. Not only did we lose a part of our team, we also caught the backlash of their reputation as trash-talking bridge-burners.
Let’s be clear, I’m no fan of dehumanizing workspaces that stifle your right to talk mess. It’s perfectly normal to complain about (and leave) a job you don’t enjoy. But what are you really accomplishing when complaining becomes the norm?
Trash talk and gossip are natural forms of communal bonding. In small doses, this kind of light banter gives us a chance to reflect on our circumstances, share concerns, and have a good laugh. Trash talk becomes an issue when we fail to communicate our needs effectively. Before you relish in talking trash on the job, try asking yourself the following questions. (If you answer “Yes” to one or more of them, your trash talk is probably doing more harm than good.)
- Am I bringing myself or my co-workers down with what I’m saying?
- Do I keep repeating the same complaints without making any effort to resolve them?
- Am I afraid to approach my supervisor about this issue? What makes me feel afraid?
The (not so) subtle art of bridge-burning severs professional ties in ways that aren’t easily repaired. Cutting ties to maintain healthy boundaries is a good thing, but bridge-burning is much more akin to self-sabotage. On the job, bridge-burners make it clear that they don’t give a single f***. They may openly lose their temper, quit impulsively, show up late, take long breaks, or do things to provoke confrontation. When cautioned about the possible consequences of their behaviors, a bridge-burner may reply, “I wish they would fire me!” From the outside, bridge-burning may seem like a show of strength and resistance, but in truth they could be a masking…
- Severe burnout or exhaustion.
- Fear of change or fear of moving on.
- Fear of confrontation.
- Lack of foresight, insight, or impulse control.
- A struggle to manage mental health or personal concerns.
- Inflated pride or ego.
I once read that everything we do is a message to the universe about who we are and what we want. It’s not a matter of being “good” to get a reward. It’s about making a clear statement of our character while we’re here and how we want to be remembered when we’re gone. The choices you’re make right now are creating the means to unlock (or block) your blessings.
The equation is simple: Trash Talking + Bridge Burning = Blocked Blessings. When you spend precious energy complaining (instead of taking action) or burning bridges (instead of re-establishing boundaries), that energy creates ripples of negativity and stagnation. Focusing solely on problems will perpetuate more and more anxiety-driven thoughts. The resulting inner turmoil limits your ability to be creative, resourceful, or optimistic; and makes it hard for your brain to identify possible solutions.
Here’s my challenge to you: the next time that job gets on your last nerve, take 3 cleansing breaths before you talk trash. Vent if you need to, but do it in a way that shows your resilience and integrity. The energy you spend on trash talk and pettiness could be used to find solutions, encourage a coworker, or send out your resumé. ❤
March 13, 2020 by Kimoré Reid, Ed.S, LPC, CPCS
Kimoré is a licensed counselor, supervisor, coach, & writer. She is committed to healing & empowering Women of Color, Afro-Caribbean Communities, & Queer People of Color. Interested in working with Kimoré? CLICK HERE!