Anthropomorphizing the Workplace
The workplace is oftentimes described as a “jungle.” This is so because in the place where people work observable are behaviors similar to those exhibited by certain animals in the forest. Consequently, the belief that in the workplace “only the fittest survive” permeated.
If indeed the workplace is a jungle, what should you do to ensure your survival?
Take a cue from Charles Darwin. He theorized that “species with useful adaptations to the environment are more likely to survive.”
That exactly is what you should do. ADAPT.
If you wish not to be meat for the predators it would behoove you to study carefully the environment of the workplace. Put your survival instincts into full gear. Predators lurk in the shadows. It could be the monkey at the top of the tree, a big cat hiding in the bushes, or a mighty bird hovering above.
Let’s simplify that. Think of the said animals as the “people upstairs.” You need to have a full understanding of how they think and operate. Better if you could dig deeper and try to know what they like and dislike. If it is not too much for your dignity (or should we say EGO) to adapt to their whims and fancies then dig a hole or build a nest in that forest and stay.
If not, if your ego clashes with theirs, the wisest thing to do is find another habitat which suitable for you.
Believe me, you cannot afford to take too much bravado and think you are that brave “angry bird” who would tweet your disagreement and not expect dire consequences. Your chirps will not go unnoticed and before you know it the eagle will swoop down on your nest and tear you apart with its powerful beaks.
More often than not, or almost always, that locking horns with the “powers that be” in the workplace is like Don Quixote fighting the windmills. It’s a losing proposition.
Bear in mind also that the predators may not be the “people upstairs” but one among you “downstairs”.
Wherever you work, you’ll encounter malevolent individuals. So, be careful. Beware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing. These are co-workers who camouflage themselves as your friends. Thinking that they are, you share with them your darkest secrets. Later you’ll just discover that the entire workplace is talking about the skeletons you’re keeping in your closet.
Let’s talk more about the different animals in the workplace. You’ve got to be able to identify them if you really want to survive the wild called workplace.
We have already mentioned about the monkey at the top of the tree, the big cats and the mighty birds. Yeah… including the wolves pretending to be sheep.
Are there other animals you ought to be wary of?
Yes, there are!
Among your co-workers spot the crabs.
Do you know what happens when you put crabs in a bucket? They’ll try to escape by pulling back down others effectively preventing anyone of them from climbing out of the bucket.
That’s the origin of the proverbial “crab mentality.” The philosophy of the malevolent among your co-workers is “if they can’t have a promotion or an incentive, neither can you.” Some people in workplaces just don’t want to see their co-workers succeeding. They so hate it when somebody climb up the ladder especially if they’ve been there longer. These are the snakes who would bite you with intrigues and gossips when they see you work harder that they do. They would accuse you of being a leech trying to suck the attention and favor of the people upstairs.
Don’t allow the venom of the snakes get through your nerves. Continue to work as hard as your personal values would allow you. That’s just the reality in the workplace – that generally there are two types of workers – the ants and the termites.
And with who would you rather be associated – with the ants in the workplace who keep themselves busy working and helping one another in order to achieve the goals of the organization or with the termites, whose actions and pronouncements, deliberate or otherwise, are damaging – not only to the organization but more so to themselves?
They are basically a negative bunch that should be avoided at all cost. The termites hold a grudge against the people upstairs for one reason or another and they think that by not doing their jobs the way they ought to and by behaving oddly they could get even. They spin tales about the current state of the organization basically for the purpose of demotivating people. Be aware that the termites could also sow dissension among their co-workers.
Nonetheless, the people upstairs are not naïve. They could easily detect the existence of termites and they get them exterminated.
Watch out also for the parasites in the workplace.
The parasites seem to have special training in detecting generosity. Once they have spotted a kind-hearted co-worker who wouldn’t say no when asked for favors then they will have a field day. They would ask you to solve their work-related problems and sometimes even seek personal favors.
So, be careful. Learn to say no when you have to or else they would eat up your time and resources. They would not hesitate to abuse you.
It’s okay if they return the favor. The problem is the word “reciprocate” is not in their vocabulary.
They also tend to exhibit that selfish attribute in their work. You could neither expect them to walk an extra mile for the organization nor perform their duties and responsibilities as stipulated in their contracts. They care for nothing but their salaries.
For the workplace to prosper, the relationship between the people and the organization should be symbiotic.
Let’s consider the relationship between the clownfish and the sea anemone. It’s a perfect example of a symbiotic mutualistic relationship. While the fecal matter from the clownfish serve as nutrients for the sea anemone, the latter provide the former with protection from its predators.
You can choose between becoming a parasite or a clownfish.
The workplace gives you a venue for professional growth and a source of livelihood. You need to keep it afloat. Your organization needs your help for it to succeed and continue existence. You may have disagreements with the people upstairs but you need to bear in mind that commitment to job and organization is different from commitment to your employers.
Lastly, in order to survive in the forest, you need to clearly determine where you rank in the food chain. Identify the different kinds of animals there. And most importantly – don’t stand in the path of your predators.
It’s as simple as knowing your designated place in the organization, being mindful of your words and actions, and being careful with how you deal with everyone. And remember that the most foolish thing to do is to offend your employers.
You have to study the culture of the workplace. Again… ADAPT. Remember what Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”
If you can’t adapt, it’s time to migrate to another forest.