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littleem
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 am

Work

Postby littleem » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:25 pm

I'm finally holding down a job for the longest time in three years.

I'm a young, quiet and unassuming woman washing dishes in an otherwise all-male kitchen.

Unfortunately, the working environment is becoming particularly unpleasant. The chefs openly exchange vulgar, highly-inappropriate and crude conversation of a prejudiced, sexist and sexual nature. They make derogatory comments about women and question why I choose to practice my religion and choose not to drink alcohol as though it's the most bizarre thing in the world.

Now, I can switch my ears off from their constant swearing no problem, I can take a a bit of teasing when it's in jest and I can get involved with the typical work-place banter.

The environment is trying to chip away at my mood and sense of self-esteem.....
I want to be able to stand up for myself and show I respect myself, without coming across as though I am over-reacting. I don't want people to think I'm boring or that I think I am better than others. I don't want to draw attention to the fact that I am 'the odd one out' in certain situations.

We have our staff Christmas party on the weekend...... Meal, 'p*ss up!' as they call it, and back to 'get smashed' and do kareoke.
I'm a recovering anorexic, T-total, socially awkward/lacking in confidence, and I really don't like kareoke.
I'm going as I don't want to look rude or 'off', but I am apprehensive about how others will perceive me.

Any advice on the best approach to dealing with the working environment and to managing the staff party?

Many thanks!!

maisi
Posts: 526
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 pm

Re: Work

Postby maisi » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:57 pm

Hi Em,

Ergh, that sounds delightful for you to deal with. Sorry I'm really short of advice, but sending plenty of empathy and support. The only thing I can suggest right now is stay centred in who you are, as there's no need to justify why you're not a boozy, sexist male chef. Your good nature and what sounds like amazing achievements in your life will show to anyone worth knowing.

Maybe there's a bit of groupthink going on, and some of them are a bit less obnoxious one to one...

Good luck,

Maisi x

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Work

Postby andthistoomustpass » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:56 pm

EMMMMMM!

The staff party

You cope well enough with them day to day and you also cope with my sense of humour so I'm sure you can cope with them for a couple of hours. Pompoms and all ;) .

Strategies

1. Set a length of time you will stay. If there is a meal then staying for one hour after the meal is fine.
No meal, 90 mins or after the first person leaves, which ever is sooner. Prepare the ground If you can't make the time you have set yourself. As soon as you arrive say you can't stay long because whatever or are waiting for a text that means you will have to leave because whatever. Everyone there will know that it isn't pleasant for anyone to be sober around a bunch of drunk people so making an excuse and leaving if they all get drunk is fine. I do it when I'm not drinking.

2. Try on the mindset that they are guests in your home, smile and humour them if you don't want to snap at them.

3. Most people love talking about themselves. Arrive armed with a batch of questions. How did you come to be doing this job? What were you doing before? What would you like to do? Married? Kids? Been on holiday lately? Where? What was it like? Favourite film? Etc. Show genuine interest in the answers and ask follow up questions. With any luck you won't have to talk about yourself if you don't want to. If all else fails, pull out your phone. Send me an email about it all if you like.

4. As Maisi said, most people tend to be better company one on one.

5. As far as questions about you go. You could try answering honestly where appropriate.
Questions about your religion? If, for example it fills you with warmth, joy and a sense of purpose and place then why not say so. Communicate how your faith makes you feel. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed of or something weird. Tell them about your recent trip to Bosnia or India. Communicate your love and joy.

6. Nowt wrong with telling people if they have gone too far with the sexist / racist / whatever jokes. You don't have to make a big thing of it just say something like, 'come on, that's taking it too far.' You are entitled to express your beliefs and act in accordance with your ethics. So long as you are measured and proportionate in your response, that will be fine.

7. If you imagine it is going to go terribly it probably will. Are there any other potential results?

The Job

Check in with yourself. What exactly is it that is bringing you down. Is it something you can change?
Is it the job or is it the job plus other stresses?
Is it something external or is it your response? If you feel it is compromising your ethics and grinding you down then maybe consider something else. As I recall, this job was a stepping stone rather than a home.

Anyhoo. That's my tuppence on the subject. Good luck with the party and let me know how it goes.
xxx

littleem
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 am

Re: Work

Postby littleem » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:37 pm

Hi Maisie :)

Thanks for your kind message. It cheered me up reading it last night.

You are absolutely right. I am not a boozy, sexist male chef! :lol: I've since decided against going to the staff party. Not because I am afraid I won't fit in and will be 'rejected' or whatever, but because in all honesty, I don't want to. I get on really well with them all at work, but honestly I don't have a desire to be big buddies with them outside of work.

There's a new prayer group starting at my Church tomorrow night at the same time. I would much prefer to go there.

I will come up with a plausible and polite excuse and will bring chocolate biscuits or something in for us all to have tomorrow with our coffee as my means of apology. :)

It is avoidance, but I feel it is valid. I know I could go. I went to join a rock choir last week despite this being massively out of my comfort zone and despite me having had a very bad day that day. I went, saw someone I was really anxious about potentially seeing (and had a nice friendly chat with them!) AND I got involved with singing AND dancing amongst at least 50 complete strangers! I've since committed to a term in this choir! :lol:

Think you're right about the group thing for sure.
The head chef who owns the place (he is really nice) was actually telling the other staff today to watch their mouth because it's an open kitchen and customers can hear their unpleasant conversations from in the restaurant. So hopefully that will tone down.

Thanks again for taking the time to post.

I hope all is well with you.

Love EM xx

littleem
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 am

Re: Work

Postby littleem » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:55 pm

Hi andthistoomustpass,

Thanks soon much for taking the time to send such a thoughtful and helpful message. Means a lot. :)

Excellent advice that is proving very effective already whilst I am in the working environment. In work, I am actually a real chatterbox! I also always end up the 'agony aunt' without even trying. :lol: I do communicate the love and joy and I do ask others about themselves.

Thanks for the advice regarding the party. I will certainly remember this for future. I like the notion of 'try it for five minutes, and then for five minutes more' as before you know it, you've done something without thinking about it for an hour or so. :D

I checked in. Thanks for prompting me. I realised whilst the unpleasant environment isn't particularly nice, it's not directed at me personally. There's no malice behind it towards me. It says more about them than it does about me. :roll:

I guess what was up was I was tired (worst trigger for me ever!) and the eating disorder was chewing at my ear trying to tell me I'm rubbish and blah blah yada yada same old anorexic babble. :roll: Also, I think it's pretty normal that washing greasy pans and emptying bins doesn't make one slip around the kitchen with a gleeful heart at all times! :lol: (insinuating there are certain gleeful moments of skipping..... :lol: )

It's not the job. The positives far outweigh what's negative.
I'm certainly not going to change jobs. I feel I have the best of the bunch concerning the type of jobs that are more accessible to me currently. I do actually like it there. And I'm sticking it out, can you believe it?!? :D

Thanks for reminding me about the stepping stone. When I am ready to step it will be on to something more beneficial to me, but not simply something of a different establishment with different food to scrape off plates. :lol:

Decided against the party not because of others but because I -Em- don't want to go for me.
Going to a prayer group instead and will make a polite excuse and bring compensation biscuits. :lol:

Thanks again my friend. I hope all is well with you!

Much love xxx

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Work

Postby andthistoomustpass » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:30 pm

"Decided against the party not because of others but because I -Em- don't want to go for me. "
That's fantastic! Well done you. TBH I only offered the advice because you asked for it. it sounded like it wouldn't be a great experience for you or any teetotal woman.

If it helps, I make decisions like that all the time. Because sometimes I just don't think a particular staff do will be an enjoyable experience.

xxx

maisi
Posts: 526
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:29 pm

Re: Work

Postby maisi » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:24 pm

:D Sounds like you've done a brilliant job of working out your priorities and what's causing your stresses- a really cool handling of a complicated blend. I'm trying to get the hang of that, so find it helpful. It put a big smile on my face hearing about the choir- choir singing has been a massively therapeutic experience for my daughter, and very therapeutic for her supporters in the audience too- great memories.

littleem
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 am

Re: Work

Postby littleem » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:23 pm

Thanks andthistoomustpass,

I hope you didn't think I was dismissing your advice or anything. I honestly really do appreciate it. Just getting things out of my system and receiving others' perspectives enabled me to 'check-in' with myself as to whether or not I was doing something for ME or because I feel 'I should' for others.

As it turned out, nobody minded at all that I politely declined. No daft excuse was necessary and I was too rushed before work to purchase the chocolate-biscuit compensation! :lol: The one staff member I get on with well was hungover and not up to it. The young guy I get on with in the kitchen also pulled out at the last minute. In all honesty, everyone was too shattered to go! At most, four (out of eleven!) would have turned up... and two of them were the owner's! And another a woman whom is suspected of stealing from the till and our tips by all the other staff and the owners! Not even the boss wanted to go!

I look forward to hearing the outcome of the night out on Tuesday. We're all a bunch of pooped-out party poopers! :lol:
A learning curve for me though in mastering the art of assertiveness and saying 'no'. :)

I also hope I haven't come across as someone who thinks negatively of going out for a drink. I most certainly don't think like that. I'm tee-total for no reason other than being unable to physically tolerate alcohol (makes me ill) and because I don't really like the taste of most stuff. Although a Bailey's at Christmas is essential. ;)

Good to hear from you as always. Hope all is well.

Em xxx

littleem
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 am

Re: Work

Postby littleem » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:27 pm

Thanks Maisi.

Aww thanks! Yup, I am trying to get the hang of it too! Practice makes progress. :)

So pleased to hear the positive influence the choir has had on your daughter. :) I enjoyed the experience.... But it costs £300 a year! So think I might be shower-singing my way to stardom after all! :lol:

Much love,

Em xxx

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1640
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Work

Postby andthistoomustpass » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:22 pm

Hi Em!

I didn't see anything negative in your reply. I was worried I was coming across as pushing you to go!
Isn't anxiety daft, all that mind-reading and jumping to wrong conclusions. :lol:

I was really pleased that you CHOSE not to go because Em did not want to go and you have concrete proof that the world didn't end as a result. :D

As far as booze goes, I am often on soft drinks when I go out, I know how annoying it can be as the only sober one in a group. Especially as I know that if I had a drink too I would perfectly understand and enjoy the drunken gibberish being spouted by everyone else. :lol:

Shame about the choir. Who knows, maybe the restaurant owners will win the lottery and double everyone's wages.

xxx


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