“To be, or not to be: that is the question” – William Shakespeare
The ones who know my writing style know that I always start with a quote. This one might be the shortest one I have use since I started this blog in 2017, but it may as well be the deepest. Specially if you get so lucky to read the entire act. But we are not here today to discuss William Shakespeare and his work in length, we are here to discuss reflections…My lunch hour reflection to be more precise.
For years, I have seen the Bell “Let’s talk” campaign. No matter how you feel about the company itself, I can say one thing, most Quebecors (or residents) if not all have heard of this every year! It’s always right after the New Year break but far enough in the year, that way we could all be well back into our routine work life. Keeping in mind that for some, the daily work they do does not impact much their intellectual capacities, even less their mental capacity but for others, using your brain every day at its maximum capacity can be tiring.
As I was driving from a site visit, the radio show host couldn’t stop talking about “Julie Payette”, I kept on trying to remember if I knew this name – but I didn’t. I was so preoccupied with my own life reality that I haven’t kept up with the list of Governor General of Canada since Michaëlle Jean… By the time I finished going through my politician name file in my brain, the radio host was already discussing how that woman I mentioned earlier was the subject of rumored office toxicity instigator. Workplace harassment and toxicity was then the hot topic. The host was interviewing a mental health and workplace specialist who was trying to help her decipher whether the bullies are just “difficult”, or they are just “toxic”. Apparently, difficult is something you become, and toxic is something you are…
In the construction industry, I’ve always encountered “on-the-go people”. We barely have time breath. After all, it’s not a yoga center, it’s a workplace, where we build under constraints – from schedule to budget through the countless norms and regulations. So, I understand, we must always be alert. But does always being alert means neglecting our mental health. Do we keep in mind that it does not only affect us but the people surrounding us? If the industry, we are in could be considered as – to quote myself above – one where we “use our brain every day at maximum capacity” could we compare that to a 24/7 power supplied equipment? If the answer is yes and if we do maintenance on our equipment, why not our brain? A monthly or quarterly checkup is a good thing, no?
Now to go back to the show’s topic, I understand and know that lately – especially since March 2020, it has not been easy for a portion of the citizens of the world. Some, in our industries are thrilled that for the first time they get to spend more time with their families and less time commuting while others might be losing the light inside at the end of each day only to wake up the next day and fuel up on the fact that the work that they do matter and that this project needs them. After all this reflection, I had noticed that we rarely hear managers give a serious talk about mental health – recently I have been privy of witnessing some managers share their take on the matter and I thought it was quite refreshing and inspiring. How many people would like to hear that they are not alone, that even the bosses sometimes think “it’s not an easy time just because you still have your job” … Do we need to say it every day? No! But do we need to check in and ask? Maybe. I also think that managers, as leaders, should not only talk mental health, but they should also LIVE it – Once in a while, you should ask yourself: “Have I had my check-up, do I need one – or is the engine still good?” alongside:” Am I being difficult or toxic?” There is a fine line… When your difficult, it seems it is because you are striving to be understood and there is a way to find common ground and avoid you being toxic, your employers can understand that there are high stakes at hand and we are striving for perfection. But when your toxic, it’s allegedly when the atmosphere you create around you resonate to mental health issues among your team or colleagues, in other words, your bad mango, no one likes your energy when stuff aren’t done to your likings. Can we claim that: Difficult is deal-able but toxic, unbearable?
As my lunch break is coming to an end and as my reflections are starting to fade leaving place for reality, I couldn’t help but think of all my coworkers – the ones I know, to the ones I don’t know, near me or on a different continent – how much time have they taken to ask themselves the real question:” I like what I do, I love my life, but am Okay ?” even if you are left in the wondering what does being okay really means…
On that day of” Let’s talk”, my first thought was “let’s talk about what?” and I think the radio host got that answer before I did. We can’t only say let’s talk and move on, we must bring a relevant subject on the matter to talk about. Therefore, I will end with this: Ask yourself the right questions (the ones here, or others), call your friend and talk! You don’t need to go in too deep but go in.
If you weren’t, I hope you feel better.
If you were, I hope you keep feeling better.
On that note,