When your private life shows up at work
Words by Francis Kahihu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Career coaches encourage people to ensure they leave their private issues at home and should never allow them to interfere with their work. This is great advice but reality has it that human beings are consolidated units with both the private and public components squarely intertwined. A case in point is Margarita’s experience.
After a long and constrained relationship with her in laws, she eventually decided to break the ties. She made her resolve known to her husband who as expected did not approve the decision. She nonetheless decided that it was better to break the ties with the in-laws than to live in pretence that all was rosy. Time went on and as much as this did not seem to negatively affect their relationship, cracks started to show when the husband proposed to have the family visit their upcountry relatives. Margareta refused to accompany him on the material day but unknown to her, he had his own plans of coercing her.
An hour after Margareta had reported to work and was on with clients, she received a call from the receptionist informing her that she had a visitor. When the she opened the reception door, she came face to face with the husband who insisted they had to travel together. As she resisted the request, they were involved in a scuffle and had to be separated by the receptionist and the office guard. An embarrassment it was which they both regretted. Margareta decided to take the rest of the day off to cool off the effects of the experience but still decided not to travel upcountry.
As it is difficult to totally compartmentalize life, our private lives every so often show up at our work places either directly or indirectly. It could be through experiences that resemble Margareta’s or indirectly through indicators of slowed performance and poor social relations with your colleagues. When spouses disagree at home, children turn rebellious or a home is bereaved, as much as it is important to hide it from your workmates, the bodies have a way of revealing what is in the heart and mind with little ease.
Such private experiences could be revealed through a rise in short temperedness in some of the staff or delay in meeting deadlines. You may have come across a staff who responded so angrily at your requests for basic assistance that left you wondering what wrong you had done by making the request. In such cases, you could have encountered the person at their lowest mental stability points. They could have been easily irritable due to the challenging concerns they may have been processing in their minds.
Appreciating that our private lives will once in a while find their way through the smart suits and beautiful hairdos should advise us on the need to remain level headed especially when the personal experiences are not those to boast about. Investing in the management of personal conflicts and challenges goes a long way in enhancing our performance at work since private and public lives are two sides of the same coin. Just as challenges at work affect your social life, so do private concerns affect work performance.