Workplace Demographics: Fight or Flight?

If you want to gauge someone’s age without eyeballing him or her ask how he or she handles conflict in the office.  Even in the Great Recession, twenty-somethings will choose flight and walk away rather than go mano a mano  over a principle, idea, or even something he or she wants.  There are few gender differences among twentysomethings.   Boomers will characterize self-interest as a matter of principle and they will enjoy the fight.

should I fight or walk away?

Most of us, at some time, have felt so strongly about a work-place issue that it became an obsession.  When that happens, thinking rationally becomes difficult.  Before you leave, call a lawyer, or jeopardize your career by waging a one-person war against the perp(s), consider this:  Organizations dispense justice poorly — if at all.  Fighting it out requires strength of character, financial resources, and the hide of a rhino.  Is it worth it?  For us, the three most important words in any employee’s vocabulary are:  Cut your losses.

Instead of dissing the twentysomethings for walking away, maybe those who don’t walk should examine their motives.  A personal vendetta is the worst reason to stay in a job.  You can’t — or won’t — rest until the perp is humiliated, fired, escorted from the premises, and so on.  You are a Boomer.  Revenge, and nothing less, will satisfy you.  More money, a new job, relocation, a better boss, or winning the lottery would not make you feel better.  Consider psychological counseling.  It’s too personal and you’re way too emotionally involved.

Fight or flight should be a rational, not an emotional decision.  Even if five lawyers believe you could win a suit against the company, consider the extreme stress you’ll endure — possibly for years!  (If you’re determined to sue get a new job first.)

The best technique we’ve seen for getting the courage to walk away is to record your arguments.  Explain your side of the argument, theirs, what you want, what they want, and play it back.  One client, 55 and fighting age- discrimination, reported, “It was scary.  I became furious and red-faced over incidents that when seen on a computer screen were insignificant.  I was complaining that my boss didn’t like me.  Of course he doesn’t.  I can’t stand him either!  At that moment I realized that only a nut case would stay in so dreadful a relationship.”

If your issue is with organizational management — especially in a not-for-profit — will your one-person crusade save it?  No one can rescue an organization with a death wish or help employees who love misery and abuse.  Don’t you suppose thousands of employees at troubled companies recognized those companies needed to rethink their strategies?  In the end, it was jump or go under.  Sensible people jumped — unless they saw a new career in rescuing more reasonable troubled organizations.

Reason has prevailed.  You have recognized you’ll never get justice or satisfaction from the organization.  You won’t sue.  How can you assuage your anger?  Give them the negative publicity they deserve.   Never miss an opportunity to give the facts to job hunters who might apply there.  If one star turns down an offer and says why, the company may see a different reality.  You must stick to verifiable facts — no conjecture or speculation — or you will be hit with a slander or libel suit.  Do not use the social media for this, ever.

Write to the CEO.  You have nothing to lose.  She may be unaware of whatever problem has driven you to greener — and saner — pastures.  Fighting for your rights or justice should benefit your peace of mind, bank account, and career.  But it rarely does — the best reason to consider other options first.

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Related Posts:

“They Don’t Like Me”

“I Don’t Like Them, Either”

Managing Conflicting Expectations

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