No workplace is perfect. Usually, you cannot single-handedly change the culture of a negative or toxic workplace. However, you can change the way you perceive and process the obstacles you face, and that’s a much easier task.
That task is often referred to as “reframing.”
Reframing is altering one’s perception of a current unsatisfactory employment situation to improve one’s productivity and develop long-term positive changes, both mentally and professionally.
There are various challenges that could spark the need for reframing. For instance, a manager is complacent and content with underachievement, a coworker does not pull his or her weight on a group project, or a cluster of bad attitudes has fostered widespread negativity.
No matter the root of the problem, it is imperative to learn the benefits and steps of reframing to maintain a strong individual work ethic and avoid a mental blackhole of pessimism and bitterness.
Let’s dive into a scenario to highlight the process of reframing You work very hard in your role and often go above and beyond your job description. Your boss never acknowledges your achievements or efforts and does not give any feedback. This frustrates you to the point of resentment toward your boss. The worst thing you could do in this situation is let the negativity take over and fight back with a sub-par work ethic and a “do the bare minimum” mindset.
That does not punish your already-complacent boss. It only punishes you, your body of work, and your character as an employee.
The best thing to do in that situation is reframe your perception of the issue. Instead of going above and beyond for affirmation from your boss, go above and beyond for your own personal satisfaction and growth. Instead of craving feedback from your managers, ask for feedback from their managers, or even seek out other industry professionals for alternate opinions outside the walls of your office. Instead of resenting the inadequate communication in your workplace, establish yourself as the best communicator in the building, and be ready to use that as a selling point in that next job interview.
These are the basic steps to achieving that type of reframing:
- Identify what exactly bothers you about a certain situation.
- Re-evaluate your initial perception with the consideration and empathy for other parties involved and what they may be thinking or going through.
- Consider how to turn that negative situation into a positive one. Ask yourself, “How can I learn from this?” “How can I use this situation to better myself?” “How can I step up as a leader in this tumultuous time?”
- Use those questions of reframing in other aspects of our life. Eventually it will go from “work tool” to “life tool.”
And if you’re still not on board here’s a “home run” real-life example. This past MLB season, the Washington Nationals had the worst record in baseball through 50 games. They were 19-31 in late May.
Yes, 19 wins and 31 losses. It was the third-worst record in the entire league at that time It would’ve been so easy to play into the poor start, tank for the rest of the season, and hope for a high draft pick to rebuild the team.
The Nationals did the opposite, and probably did some serious reframing along the way. They focused on their strengths, turned their season around, and finished as World Series champs.
So, if your work situation feels like a 19-31 record, just remember, all it takes is a little reframing and, well, you might not be a World Series champion, but you can definitely turn a poor situation into a much better one.