I received this bit of advice today from someone I respect at work and felt it worthy of documenting here in hopes of helping others encoutering similar obstacles to great work in their work lives and quite possibly as a personal reminder for myself.
When dealing with people at work, it is best to avoid the word “Job.”
Why? The word Job simply has too much attached to it at an emotional level. There’s a saying here in the U.S. that reads: We are what we do. The connotation is that my personhood, identity, self-worth, etc. all are somehow connected to how I make my living from 9-5 (or 7:30-evening in my case). Thus My Job gets wrapped up with all sorts of extraneous stuff that can get in the way of accomplishing larger goals. The consequence of referring to one’s job too often brings up a slew of questions such as:
- What is my job?
- Am I getting paid enough for this job?
- Why does it seem my job has more attached to it than other peoples jobs?
- Why am I being asked to add task a, b, c, etc. to what I think in my mind is my job?
These types of discussions, while having a place and time (and certainly warrant thought and discussion), by and large get in the way of reaching fundamental business goals and accomplishing tasks.
Consider relaying requests at a more personal level in a tone that conveys the fact that for Task A, I am counting on you to do it to the best of your abilty.
This removes Job and all the latent baggage that so often makes the trip.