The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly decimated the “old normal” previously unheard-of pre-pandemic. While we have in the past experienced epidemics, political crises, and natural disasters, which pale in comparison with over 400,000 deaths occurring in the U.S. from this dreaded virus, none seem as virulent or prevalent as this crisis.
Faced with these trepidations, “a new normal” is emerging with uncertainty at every turn. There is a concerted effort to pay higher unemployment rates for individuals displaced by this pandemic. In concert with a new administration bent on an unparalleled spending spree.
By turning rhetoric into reality, chaos theory is in play. Chaos theory reviews the chaotic and complex systems and underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition and self-organizations.
Fundamentally, chaos theory can be best described by the old saying, “The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Mexico can cause an avalanche in China.” Small, inconsequential changes can have colossal effects on the system.
Bandied about recklessly, and not thinking a problem through, can precipitate the emergence of chaos theory with its requisite law of unintended consequences. As Henry Miller once said, “Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”
It is unclear the effects of chaos theory will impact those who are displaced by this pandemic or who are unhappy with their current employment status of working remotely. While the subtleties of expounding your unhappiness to your employer, it is never a good idea to experiment with uncertainty in times if crisis.
From that perspective, an interesting article written by Amanda Augustine is “7 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss.” I will highlight these salient points and then make my comments in parentheses on how to add to your leadership domain.
“I feel like.” (It is never a good idea to propose a solution because you feel like it is a good idea. Instead, offer solutions based on sound-business acumen, research and data that you can trust and stand on. Using logic is significantly enhanced with critical thinking and always takes precedence over emotions or vague feelings.)
“I don’t know but …” (The old saying goes to be enthusiastic you must act enthusiastic. Stating I do not know is equivalent to saying I feel like and promotes uncertainty. It centers on a position of weakness rather than strength and makes you appear weak in others’ eyes. Confidence inspires confidence, and if you do not know, say I will get back to you after I research the matter in more depth.)
“I’ll leave” or “If you don’t do this, I’ll quit.” (These are controversial statements and only provoke your employer. Making idle threats often invokes chaos theory and the law of unintended consequences, and you may find yourself applying for unemployment insurance benefits sooner than later. Avoid this egotistical and childish behavior and ask for clarity and direction if you are unclear and need further guidance. Being a team player is tantamount to being taken seriously and being valued in the organization.)
“At my last job …” (Loyalty and respect are earned and not given automatically. By often referring to your last job it often demeans your current one and does not inspire loyalty or trust. These statements are often taken out of context. Instead use your experience from previous employers and use that information to move your organization forward based on your past involvement and knowledge while not mentioning how we did this at XYZ.)
“Can I speak to your boss about this?” (It is never a good idea to jump over the chain of command and can bring chaos theory into play with rather negative consequences. Instead, if you have a great idea or proposed solution, go through the proper channels. If you are stifled or can’t make the appropriate headway, it may be a good idea to speak to your human resource manager.)
“No” or “That’s impossible.” (Nothing connotes more dissension in an organization when you utter those two phrases. Your organization hired you to propose and accelerate solutions and not generate more problems. While at times, the task may be overwhelming or undoable, ask your leader for clarity, direction, and what other responsibilities may be put-on hold to accomplish the task at hand. Remember, key reports accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Creativity coupled with clarity of purpose propels the undoable to the doable.)
“I need a raise.” (A common rejoinder that we all feel entitled to, but have we made the appropriate case? Asking and deserving a raise are two different sides of the coin. Preferably, make your point and discuss how you add value to the organization, your successes on projects assigned, and added job responsibilities. Base it on logic and demonstrated by facts and not baseless emotions.)
In the final analysis, we are all unhinged with uncertainty. Our new normal certainly deviated from our old routine, which is very disconcerting. It reminds me of these two quotes, the first from an unknown author: “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out,” and according to Hafiz, “The words you speak become the house you live in.”
Therefore, before you blurt out your emotions, take stock and think it through. Once said, it can only be forgiven and not forgotten. The very career you save may be your own. Wise words to heed in this world of uncertainty.