Are You a Zombie at Work?
”When you’re at work, do you behave in the same way as you do when you’re at home? Or do you have a work persona – a duller, more subdued version of your real self?”
From the BBC CEO Guru series, one chief exec of the tech firm Jive Software calls these people Zombies ‘‘…companies that don’t try to encourage staff to express themselves at work, and instead try to force them to fit into some kind of corporate clone – doing what they’re told to do without questioning – will lose out.’’
As humans we all want to fit in, be liked and succeed. We are tribal animals and have a need to belong and be accepted and we do that by ‘following the rules’. When we were part of tribes many years ago it was essential to show that we were not a threat – like animals in packs. The modern version of this is becoming the person we feel we ‘should’ be to be accepted .
There are so many labels that we pick up to conform in this way – introvert, extrovert, the job description we have, the roles we have outside of work. How often have we heard the phrase “Oh he’s an accountant, that explains it all”. We choose our narrative or label to help us fit in and feel comfortable.
Going with the flow in this way might appear easier however research published last year from the University of Buffalo and reported in Science Daily showed that ‘standing up for your beliefs, expressing your opinions and demonstrating your core values can be a positive psychological experience.” The research was aiming to understand the impact of the pressure of conformity by assessing cardiovascular responses of people who were briefed to fit in with a group with a common view that didn’t fit with the goal they had been given, and reported that ”..their cardiovascular responses were consistent with a psychological threat state.” The researchers reported ”when trying to reach a goal, evaluating high resources…leads to a mostly positive, invigorating experience called challenge, which corresponds with feeling confident. Low resources and high demands (going along with the group against your own feelings) lead to a much less confident state called threat, which may produce feelings of anxiety.”
In the modern workplace this encourages safe ‘group think’, stifling difference, diversity and creativity.
For us all to be the best we can be we need clear energy space around us, when we are worrying about fitting into the tribe, not posing a threat or being judged by others, we make it all about us – our energy is filled with worrying about us and what others think of us and feeling uncomfortable. Once we can free ourselves from feeling that we need to conform, we release courageous energy, powerfully shifting ourselves to be more creative, intuitive, better able to concentrate on the greater good and impact more positively within our workplace.