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Should we fake positivity at work?

I ve been a bit slack on kicking in discussion starters.  Here s one I thought might be interesting

In my admittedly distracted and hap hazard study on PU what I ve picked up is be positive, toe the herd line unless you have opportunity and support to lead change, and support the higher ups who are spinning all day long.  And use authenticity and vulnerability as tools sparingly in special circumstances.  Like an exec doing the 'common touch' in a whole of meeting.

The article I linked suggests that might be a bad idea for your mental health

What do people think?


Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Yeah, I think that's certainly possible.

However, I think it's mostly a question of degrees, and how far apart your "authentic you" and "public persona" really are.

So for example, if you really, really dislike your work and your boss and he's an asshole who micromanages you every single day and every single day must pretend to like the environment and your boss... That's quite bad and I'd personally strongly recommend someone to change or move.

On the other hand, if you're aware that the "values" being professed are empty talk, and that the workplace is a bit of theater, but instead of seeing yourself as a victim you think of yourself as an (important) "putting on a show" and maybe even influencing that show, then one can either be neutral towards it or, potentially, even enjoying the "game".

So yeah, I agree that it's possible that faking can be harmful.
But not necessarily that it must be harmful.

John Freeman, Transitioned and 3 other users have reacted to this post.
John FreemanTransitionedKavalierBelleaderoffun
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My take on this is that what damages people is the toxicity of the workplace, more than "faking".

Having to "fake more" is directly proportional to the toxicity of the workplace one is in: it is a "derivative factor".

And, if "faking" means one doesn't get out when one should, then one will suffer damage.

I think, as Lucio says, that there are several degrees in the primary factor (ie workplace "toxicity"):

- ideal place of work, where you don’t have to fake anything (hypothetical only / probably not existent); it still is necessary to learn power dynamics to be able to catch the occasional psychopath infiltrating this heavenly place, and get rid of him before he or she turns it into hell while ruining the lives of all the angels living there forever;

- normal places of work, where people are fairly… normal. Meaning, their lives are not concentrated on taking whatever they can at whatever price others pay, but they are still likely to try to advance by politics at yours’ and others’ expense. Being able to “fake” to a certain degree is indispensable, otherwise you are going to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb doing all the work and getting slaughtered in the end;

- toxic workplaces, where a psychopath or malignant narcissist is at the top or in the process of ascending to the top. I worked in this kind of place for ten years without understanding what was going on and my opinion is that:

a) only traumatized people and super-toxic people can endure this kind of workplace for more than a short stint; in other words, no amount of “faking” is going to allow you to stay there for any significant amount of time if you are a healthy, balanced person; proof is that, as I was getting healthier in the end, I simply could not stay there for an additional day;

b) the degree of emotional and mental damage these kinds of places put on a person is infinitely higher than whatever transitory benefit you may derive from staying there; in other words, it is infinitely better to get out and stay without a job for years, than to learn the ropes in one of these places where your self-esteem is going to be degraded so much and so constantly through covert mobbing that you will likely lose the will to work at all (or, in the best case scenario, later have to devote a significant amount of time and resources just to process the accumulated pain).

An interesting thing I read in a book titled “Taming toxic people” by David Gillespie: psychopaths themselves, when they recognize the workplace is becoming toxic to them (meaning their superior has realized who they are and/or what they do), tend to go for extended sick leave and try to “wait it out” or change jobs during such sick leave: because they understand the traumatic impact the "toxicity" by a normal person is going to have on them.

Imagine what can a psychopath do to the brain of a normal but naive person.

Lucio Buffalmano, Transitioned and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedKavalierleaderoffun

In the article the negative impacts they mentioned were resting heart rate, increased stress and decreased job satisfaction so it sounds like you could make some relatively simple internal CBT based adjustments to help.  And then as Lucio and Bel said there s the bigger question of whether the job s worth the cost.  To be continued..

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Interesting topic. To me, it touches on the topic of "masks" as in social masks. So such is the mask of power, mask of competence, etc.

As everyone else said, I think it's a matter of environment. Bel's post is quite clear on the progression. The more toxic the environment, the more you have to wear a mask. And wearing a mask is a powerful tool but emotionally draining and damaging your self-esteem (you know yourself you are hiding your own self) on the long term in my view.

So it's about the Law of Balance and adapting yourself to your environment. It also depends on your power. If you have low power you have to tolerate shitty environment because you don't have any options. I mean low power in your organization and in the job market. If you are high power you can allow yourself to be authentic.

It's also about values. If you are in an environment which values status -> mask. If you are in an environment with values authenticity -> less masks. So it goes back to leadership and the person incarnating it. What values promote the environment are the values exemplified by the leader who sets the tone.

Since we live in a World with tons of bullshit for secondary gains, the article talks within the context of what is the norm now.

Transitioned and Bel have reacted to this post.
Quote from John Freeman on September 15, 2022, 8:38 pm

So it's about the Law of Balance and adapting yourself to your environment. It also depends on your power. If you have low power you have to tolerate shitty environment because you don't have any options. I mean low power in your organization and in the job market. If you are high power you can allow yourself to be authentic.

I totally agree John, hadn't considered it that way.

Reality is that for some people (including me as I was then) a toxic job environment could be the only way to go up, hopefully transitory.

John Freeman and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
John FreemanTransitioned

Transitory: key word. Otherwise it's a disempowering belief.

Bel has reacted to this post.

Bels read on the culture makes sense.  The book workplace poker lists different cultures and tactics.  I m sure it's in PU too.

It does highlight the need for high quality relationships in your personal life as work friendships are not easy to develop.  I think masking all the time would be damaging.

@bel was it homogeneous in these workplaces.  Was everybody a poker player or were some people real?

That's a really good question Transitioned.

I would say that the bosses were definitely expert politics players.

As to the others, probably some were like the bosses (or aspiring), and the others were hurt unaware people.

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