It’s bring your personal baggage to work day!
Not really. I just made that up, but it would make for an entertaining day at the office and and inevitably lead to questions like, Are you the office mom? Drill sergeant dad? Whiny baby brother who gets all of office mom’s attention?
“Our work environments often take on the characteristics of our families of origin, either by accident or design.”
I was blindsided by that statement. It made so much sense I was annoyed that it hadn’t ever occurred to me before the podcast speaker said it.
So that’s why I end up working for men who remind me of my dad!
Of course you bring all of your family baggage to work with you. And so does everybody else, which might help explain why so many people hate their jobs.
Spectacular disappointment to your parents because you went into finance instead of medicine? Don’t let that stop you on your way to becoming a billionaire—and then refusing to support them in their old age.
Take that, mom and dad.
Desperately in need of your mother’s approval? Go ahead and have three kids, work full-time in a really demanding job (while working toward your MBA), and take care of your disapproving husband who oddly reminds you of your mom. And volunteer to bake each and every coworker their very own birthday cake. From scratch.
Do any of these other “family members” sound familiar?
Passive-aggressive sibling: Quietly sabotages you by not pulling her weight (it’s usually a she) and then says things like, “I didn’t know that’s what you wanted me to do,” even though you asked twice. This type may also speak in the crazy-making form of the “demand question’: “So you will have your team finish (work item here) by (random date), correct?
Condescending older sister/brother: Her tenure could be anywhere from six months to 16 years, but to hear her talk you’d think she’d founded the company. She knows everything and everyone—and wants you to know it. Loves to speak in acronyms.
Patronizing older brother: This guy generally means well, but his earnest desire to appear enlightened actually does more harm than good. He’s very comfortable taking credit for the work you do and calling it “a great collaboration.”
Cold, distant mother: The ice queen can smell your desperate need for approval a mile away and will “optimize” it to squeeze every bit of productivity she can from you. You work harder than you ever have just to hear her say, “You didn’t do a bad job with that.” Such praise brings feelings of joy and gratitude that are quickly crushed when she temporarily forgets your name in a meeting.
And then there are the other types, most of whom are relatively harmless and mostly amusing—like the silly uncle who’s always game for an office prank, the smothering mother who micromanages out of fear you’ll screw something up—but lets you take credit for her work, and the hapless little brother who is always saying something inappropriate.
They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Does it follow then, that you can’t choose your work family—or can you?