When the Mirror is Distorted: Self-Image through the Corporate Mindset

I’ve been in Corporate America(TM) for a zillion years, mostly at Drone Level with occasional forays into leadership. And if there is one thing in the universe that smacks more thoroughly of Corporate America than The Team-Building Activity, I have yet to see it.

Recently, our team meetings have expanded to include one of these little gems each week. Mostly they’re harmless, stupid, or just plain time-wasting. But every once in a while, one will come back with surprising returns. Like this morning’s activity, The Positive Word Game. Simply put, each team member anonymously submits a single positive adjective describing all of his or her team members. These words are collected and given to the team-mate, who then reads them aloud in the meeting.

My words were as follows:
Encouraging
Analytical
Dramatic
Intelligent

Um, okay.

My first reaction was, “Dramatic? Who says I’m dramatic? I must know who considers me dramatic, and why?” (Okay, the dramatic part probably applies.) Actually, viewed calmly, all of these words apply to me.

So why was I shocked, stunned, and even a little hurt?

I think this is where a person’s self-image and their outward image come into conflict. You see, I see myself as all of these things (except Dramatic–dude, I am SO not about the drama. Seriously. I’m a Drama-Free Zone.), but they are not the primary traits I see in myself.

The words I expected to receive were more along the line of:
Quirky
Creative
Funny
Introspective
Generous
Warm

So how is it that my coworkers see such a different side of me than I see of myself? Are they not looking? Am I not showing that part of me? Or is it that the corporate atmosphere tends to stifle these more human characteristics in favor of less “touchy-feely” traits?

And is this life I’m living, these 40 hours a week I’m spending in the corporate landscape, actually changing me? Is it smoothing away my quirky edges in favor of a more analytical personality?

I’m absolutely sure this was not the desired intent of the team building activity. But there you go. My life, in fifteen minutes.

Till next time, loves.

Deb

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