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Pretending to be enthusiastic at work - how do you manage it?

(19 Posts)
thriftymrs Tue 01-Mar-16 14:26:32

I have a meeting at work on Friday. I'm desperately unhappy but I'm responsible for paying a large mortgage, children to support etc. I've got lower and lower over the last couple of years (personal grief following bereavements, pay freezes, insomnia, exhaustion (5 hour daily commute) etc) which apparently has not gone unnoticed. I've been told the management team are looking at their options and either I have to magically regain my confidence and sparkle and also take on a new, more challenging workload, or I will face redundancy. I am in my 50's and jobs in my field are in very short supply. I've lost a lot of my confidence and I've not been offered an interview for any of the jobs I've applied for over the past couple of years. I feel at an all-time low at a time when I am expected to be confident, exuberant and excited about new challenges and the re-organisation and new direction of the company I have worked for, for almost 6 years.

I haven't been to see my GP (almost impossible to get an appointment for a start!) and I don't really want to go down the route of anti-depressants.

I would be grateful for any advice on how to fake enthusiasm and excitement at my meeting on Friday. Have any of you ever had to do this? I find it pretty much impossible to suck up to management, it all feels so fake and forced, I'm just not that sort of person. But the bottom line is that I have to keep this job because I am just too scared to risk the alternative.

Thank you x

MoonlightandMusic Tue 01-Mar-16 21:49:31

That's a tough call. I'm guessing the confidence & sparkle aspect are related to the job you do?

Can you find out ahead of time any indication of what the 'new challenges/workload' is? If yes, then use this to plan some (achievable) targets for you. If not, then get them to provide you with the 'high-level' objectives during the meeting.

Allow them to go through the whole "we've noticed x/y/z and are concerned/need you to take on more etc.,". Nod occasionally. When they are finished, reference that you'd like to have some more details on the "new challenges" so that you can come up with some targets for meeting them.

Also mention that, when you have identified possible targets, you will set up another meeting with your manager(s) to agree which of these options best meet the strategic aims of the business. Also mention that, as part of this second meeting you would like management to consider a bonus / pay rise on achieving them.

Benefits of the above approach are that without having to 'plead' you will be back to your old self soon, you have instead demonstrated you are back to your old self by:
1. Driving the conversations around practicalities/business needs
2. Asking for a pay rise justified by demonstrable benefit to the business (tends to be only the confident who do that!)

You may not get additional money, but that's a different conversation - and even if they say "not in the next six months due to..." it means you've left the way open to push again after that.

In terms of the 'body language' management to subtly back up your assertions:

Draw yourself up tall, go into the meeting with your shoulders' back. When you sit down, sit back in your chair, and keep your arms open on the table. This sort of posture

For the next few days, practice at the kitchen table and, in your head picture all the negatives they might throw at you. At first, you'll find your shoulders hunch when you even think what might be said. The practice gives you time to get used to pushing back to a 'relaxed but confident' posture again. In fact, even if you do temporarily hunch in the actual meeting, you can still push back to the 'confident' position.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of an essay! Just keep in mind, you will get through it. The confident and sparkling you wasn't an illusion, it's just that you've had too many things to deal with over the past few years.

Very best wishes for Friday.

thriftymrs Wed 02-Mar-16 10:36:23

Thanks, Moonlight, for your detailed and thoughtful response. Your advice makes a lot of sense and I will take it on board. It's a little tricky at the moment to try and second-guess how the future will pan out at this company as it is in the middle of a complete re-organisation. I do have an idea of what the new responsibilities will involve under the proposed new workload but I hope to be given more detail of this during the week. Thanks again for taking the time to post your reply.

Movingonmymind Wed 02-Mar-16 14:13:00

What could you offer up- eg if they let you work from home once a week, that would help your sleep and therefore your work performance. A 5 HR daily commute alone is gruelling!

Movingonmymind Wed 02-Mar-16 14:17:10

And if it helps, i also find it hard to fake- working fro a not terribly bright boss, way less experienced than me, way less qualified yet I need to set my training needs- intro level courses when I have a masters! Not being arrogant just honest, did I really work so bloody hard and pay for the course for this? But am sucking it up as theortetically part-time. So guess you need to do the same- what are your options, what are your needs versus wants, what are negotiables and non-negotiables. Could you afford to take reudcnancy? Retrain? Work elsewhere? Etc etc. Much easier to advise somew one else, can't take my own advice smile. Good luck

Spandexpants007 Wed 02-Mar-16 14:17:30

It's mindset. Choose how you react to things/events. Nurture yourself. What can you do to look after yourself?

There's a book called miracle morning which might help? It involves a slightly earlier morning, introducing quietness, meditation, expanding minds. Also consider yoga and mindfulness.

Movingonmymind Wed 02-Mar-16 14:18:39

Agree can be mindset but sounds like op could be burnt out. Which happens. In which case, take stock, time out, plan.

Spandexpants007 Wed 02-Mar-16 14:20:04

Is there anything you enjoy about work. Even small things like the coffee or a certain work friend or a certain project? Can you dwell on the positives and see the negatives as challenges through which you will grow? At the same time do assess whether it would be better to work closer to home or do a different job. What would really make you happy?

thriftymrs Wed 02-Mar-16 17:33:10

Thanks everyone.
Spandex - I would love to be able to work closer to home - it's all I ever think about when I stand on freezing station platforms! I think I would stack shelves if I could afford to. I don't earn a huge salary and could take a local job for about £22k if I didn't have to travel, but I haven't been successful finding anything locally in the past couple of years and I don't feel I have the confidence any more to keep applying.
I do have a handful of lovely, supportive, friends at work which helps enormously.
Truth be told, I've gone past the point of 'wanting to grow' in terms of my job. I work purely to pay the mortgage and bills and to give my children as nice a life as I can. I do it all for them really.
I attend a weekly yoga class. I have tried mindfulness but find it so difficult to get any privacy and be able to concentrate in a very noisy household!
Moving - I have tried negotiating working from home but without success. I'm going to try asking again.
I guess I've just got to muster all my inner strength and keep going.
Thanks for all your kind words, they do help.

Movingonmymind Thu 03-Mar-16 10:25:13

Good for you. Keep on keeping on as they say. Am trying to tell myself the same, I am SO utterly demoralised st work, feel unsupported, no chance of progression, heavy workload, unrealistic aims, weak not terribly capable boss. Sigh.

Spandexpants007 Thu 03-Mar-16 15:28:56

Maybe you just need someone to read over your CV and letter. Help you with applications

MoonlightandMusic Fri 04-Mar-16 20:16:51

How did it go today thrifty? Was thinking of you earlier.

thriftymrs Mon 07-Mar-16 13:53:19

Thanks again Moving, Spandex and Moonlight. It's sweet that you care. Well I didn't manage the assertiveness terribly well but I agreed that I would take on the new work and my immediate boss will provide me with support when I need it. No imminent pay rise but I hope that, once I can prove my competency with the additional workload, this will give me enough ammo to try and negotiate one (although the company are not known for their generosity so I won't hold my breath!). I can't say too much for fear of giving myself away.

Spandex, I think you are right about having someone look over my CV. Although job apps these days don't seem to want to see an actual CV, it contains the info that I would copy and paste and tailor to suit each on-line application. I might possibly be a bit out of touch with how it all works these days as the last couple of jobs I have had have been by way of personal recommendation so I haven't really had to worry about CVs and applications too much over the last 10 years. But, as I mentioned before, I tried applying for a few jobs last year and didn't get offered an interview, so perhaps it's the case that I am not selling myself very well to prospective employers. I do suffer from a lack of confidence and I am too self-conscious to blow my own trumpet, so to speak. I read an article recently about removing all the "buzz words" from my CV so I've done that (sentences such as being flexible, a team player, etc) but it's tricky to know how to imply these qualities without using cheesy terminology! I'm probably not managing to make my experience and positive qualities stand out sufficiently.

Thanks again everyone for your support.

MoonlightandMusic Mon 07-Mar-16 21:05:59

Well, it sounds as though it went better than you thought it might at first. Gives you time to work on the confidence/assertiveness while planning your next career move too.

With the new workload, make time at the end of each day/start of the next one, to jot down at least one item from that day that was related to the 'new challenges' you've agreed with the company - makes a v.useful reference point for what you've achieved when your next review comes around.

CrystalSkull Wed 09-Mar-16 22:49:28

thriftymrs - I feel for you.

Don't forget that your company can't make you 'redundant' unless it's a genuine redundancy (i.e. your role is no longer required for the needs of the business or your office is being shut down, etc.). They can't just use it as a cover to sack you. If they want to claim you are no longer capable, that is a different procedure and it takes time.

Might it be worth making an appointment with your GP when possible? Antidepressants haven't helped me this time but they have done more than once in the past. I'm not sure they should be ruled out. My GP also referred me to a free counselling service and she was very sympathetic, which was a help in itself.

Good luck flowers

WiseToTheLies Fri 11-Mar-16 10:51:47

How are you doing thriftymrs?

Have you considered agencies/headhunters/consultants and LinkedIn for your job search? You could also approach your Company's competitors directly to see if they have any comparable roles available.

I'm not surprised you're down given the bereavement and the commute.

Really consider getting a Drs appointment too as it may be medical (menopause it a bastard!) and some good HRT can put a spring in your step and help you focus.

thriftymrs Mon 21-Mar-16 13:42:59

Hello everyone, thanks for all your messages.

I have a review later this week to see how I am coping with the additional workload which, so far, has been okay, and I am managing to keep on top of it, just about. It would be nice if there was some sort of payment incentive though!

I recently met up with an ex-colleague who I worked with around 10 years ago, and who gave my confidence a boost by reminding me, in his words, that I was always highly resourceful and capable, and he assured me that I still was, it was just that I had lost sight of it.

I have some time off over Easter which I am looking forward to more than I can say and I'm going to try and get an appointment with my GP. I'm actually in the process of being weaned off HRT which I have been on for 5 years (following sudden surgical menopause). I'm not sure that I want to go down the route of anti-depressants but it would be helpful to at least hear what my options are.

Have a lovely Easter everyone and thanks again for caring. x

ApocalypseSlough Mon 21-Mar-16 13:55:32

Five. Hours. Commute. shock
Surely that's the problem. You mention £22,000- is that what you'd need to earn because the current commute is expensive?
I'd sit down with a spreadsheet and benefits calculator and really scrutinise every aspect of your life to find the money. Downsize, sell second car, repay interest only mortgage only. You mention children- don't even think of planning to pay any university fees etc.
flowers

IceMaiden73 Mon 21-Mar-16 16:10:06

It's a bit worrying that work have noticed and called you in for a meeting.

I think faking enthusiam now is too little, too late. If I was your manager I would want to know what you are going to do to turn things around

You really need to find another job if you are that miserable, it is not fair on your or your employers if you are mentally not there any more.

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