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:

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:

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.



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