The Triumph of a Joy Junky: How Choosing Joy can Change Everything
When Kay showed up on the scene as the lone social worker on staff, she had recently moved from out of state, was new to the medical community, and to the diverse cultural mix in this organization. So she wisely decided to come in with few expectations and do her best to fit into this work culture using her considerable talent as an objective observer.
One of the first things she noticed was that interactions between patients and staff sorely lacked respect. She would often overhear heated conversations in a foreign tongue. All Kay understood was the anger.
person Kay was replacing appeared very scattered, disorganized, and had
generally poor relationships with the rest of the staff. Kay attempted
to learn the bigger picture from her by continually asking questions
that would help her understand where a Social Worker fit into this
establishment. What was expected? How will I be perceived? What are the
attitudes of the medical staff about the work I'll be doing? What
processes are in place to handle this and that?
normally a very happy and enthusiastic person, soon found herself going
to work every morning with a knot in her stomach. "I had no idea
where I stood in this culture, where I fit, or how to be appreciated.
The Director was constantly yelling at everyone. I didn't know if I was
going to be yelled at for something I was supposed to be doing or not
doing." Tension was thick in this place. The Director would start
yelling early in the day and everyone focused on simply dodging bullets
the rest of the day. Sound familiar anyone?
decided what she would and wouldn't tolerate. She would be pleasant,
kind, and considerate, in the midst of the ongoing turmoil and not let
anyone, no matter what their position, treat her with disrespect,
including her Director.
Kay pays it forward. Even though people weren't very friendly to one another, Kay decided to start complimenting everyone on the staff who demonstrated even the slightest competence or positive behavior. She began taking extra care to appreciate the secretary who took more abuse than anyone and who interacted with everyone. Kay began to feed the staff's hunger for positive reinforcement.
makes the team.
Even though Kay wasn't part of a highly functional work team, she began
acting as if she were. She would jump in and help with any little job
that crossed her path, even if it was outside of her realm, just to take
some of the load off of her coworkers. These were simple little things
like making a quick phone call, making a copy, mailing a letter, passing
on a message, etc.
no mistake, dear reader. The environment here was not all joy and light.
Kay was faced daily with death, and the dying, with imminent
amputations, sickness, and terminal illness. Joy was a choice. One she
had to keep choosing every moment.
Kay never took sides. When people came to her blaming others for their upsets. She just listened and made suggestions on how they could think or act differently.
More and more people began dropping into Kay's office on a regular basis. "I don't want to sound conceited here, but it seemed like people wanted what I had...'joy.' I helped them choose it themselves. I kept telling them, 'Stop bickering. Remember to breathe, then choose joy.' We even made a poster that said, 'Remember to breathe.' People loved it."
"The Director was one of the worst attackers. Once I built a little more trust with her, she was in my office sharing her problems. One day I asked, 'Are you really getting what you want by yelling at everyone?' She finally was able to see that it simply brought down staff and modeled poor behavior for them."
promised me one day to not yell for the entire day and hasn't done so
publicly for six weeks. She now takes issues with individuals privately
into her office and handles them in a civil tone."
TIPS FOR CHANGE.
Sometimes the most positive thing you can do is to leave an
I've helped a couple people make the decision to leave this place. If it
takes too much from you over time, at some point, you have to realize
you can't affect this place without losing your joy.
- Be a steward of trust. You can have bad days, and you can be frustrated, but don't lash out at others, just own it and let people know what's going on with you so they don't take it personally.
- Joy is not simply a smile on your face everyday. It doesn't necessarily equate to happiness, though it may lead there. It's being true to everyone, especially yourself.
- Empower people to solve their problems and to make different, more effective choices.
- Consciously model functional behavior.
- Choose to lead yourself. Ask what you can do in your little piece of the world. Develop options for yourself so your survival isn't at stake if you have to leave an organization.
- Know that anyone taking on a new behavior in a system changes
Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator's Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline. Subscribe to his free weekly ezine at www.MasterFacilitatorJournal.com.