Self-criticism is bad enough. Consider how often you tell yourself that you’re:
- not smart or likeable enough
- too quiet and socially awkward
- too young or old to fit in
- too self-conscious to lead
It gets worse when others single you out for the differences they see:
- You don’t look, talk, or act like them.
- You have work habits that are different (solitary, serious, or scattered).
- You’re too chummy, chatty, or distant with others.
- Your eating habits, work station appearance, or break time routines are atypical.
What you see as uniqueness can be dubbed a “flaw,” depending on who’s watching and judging.
We live in a world where everyone’s watching us, often recording our actions for any number of reasons. And we’re watching back.
Some people like the attention and others don’t. With all this watching comes judgment.
Over the years, it’s somehow become okay to form and express opinions about people at work and elsewhere based on snapshot observations intended to “portray” them. Social media has provided broad and instantaneous platforms for this.
It’s become easy to express disrespect, demean, and label our coworkers by “sharing” and re-sharing snippets of conversations (“Here’s snarky Grace at it again.”), forwarding emails (“Bert’s stupidity about how to make quota is so obvious.”), or posting images (“Can you believe that Myra wore this horrid outfit to the meeting?”).
Opportunities for ridicule abound and it’s time to stop it.
Be aware of yourself.
As our deficiencies are being noticed and judged, we’re unwittingly judging others.
At work, we want to secure, protect, and/or advance our position in the organization. We can see our coworkers as either supportive teammates or threats to our status, even when they may not be.
Fear, insecurity, and desire to feel powerful often lead coworkers to undermine their colleagues. It often starts as teasing before it accelerates into direct or indirect ridicule, bullying, or harassment.
When we observe someone else being ridiculed, we can feel a few things:
- Relief that it’s not us
- Humor or justification depending on the situation
- Horror at the unfairness
- Compulsion to stop it
What we do in the moment or even afterward, tells us a lot about ourselves.
Ridicule reveals our dark side: Its unfairness is made evident when knowing the other side.
Case in point:
Recently, a muscular man attending a major league baseball game was captured on camera trying desperately to open a plastic water bottle.
He struggled mightily with the bottle, even using his shirt for a better grip, to no avail. He eventually returned the unopened bottle to the vendor.
Sportscasters on ESPN and many other news outlets played and replayed this tape incessantly, laughing at, and yes, ridiculing this fellow’s:
- Workout regime and gym
- Actual strength/muscles
- Attempt to use his shirt for a grip
- Struggling attempts and then giving up
This was a very nice guy who you can see in this video from his Today Show appearance. He was simply trying to:
- enjoy a baseball game
- help the water vendor who couldn’t open the bottle
For his trouble, he got a heap of mockery and ridicule plus numerous Google listings, all at his expense. He became entertainment because others, who were not as muscular, had an opportunity to demean his physique. It made the ridiculers feel stronger, I guess.
The sad reality is: At any time and on any day, that man could be you at work or elsewhere.
Ridicule as pastime
It is painful to be ridiculed. The price paid is a cut to your self-esteem. There is no place for it at work or anywhere else.
It’s become so easy to turn each of us into a picture or a video, exposing us to ridicule and violating our desire to work and play unimpeded. Let’s all commit to doing better.
Photo by emdot via Photoree