I recently viewed an article plugging solutions to tricky work situations. One of the examples was about how to handle personal commitments and what to discuss to co-workers if you needed to leave a meeting or leave work at a certain time due to outside appointments. It cited that the best way to handle such scenarios that weren’t work related was to not go into detail but rather to simply divulge, “I have another commitment.” Reason being, that there are less repercussions and adverse judgement in the workplace when we do so.  

It’s all to tragic that this happens in the workplace.  However…

While I agree that our colleagues do not need to know the explicit details of such events, I disagree that we need to have so much apprehension for the personal aspects of our lives that we actively prioritize – especially when we don’t abuse the freedom of flexibility to choose. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to help lead others to higher diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We all have different backgrounds, values, and family situations but we all are experiencing this condition called life. We need to allow others to practice empathy by sharing that we may sometimes need to relieve the nanny, take our aging parent to a doctors appointment or even accompany our neighbor to the first chemo treatment. We fear the perceived judgement that we’re not committed to our jobs and that we aren’t willing to “Lean in”  due to personal obligations competing during working hours but without sharing, without vocalizing our outside commitments –  how can others know and begin to accept each others values in how they make decisions.  

Advice once given to me by a supervisor when I shared my guilt in leaving work early to attend my sons soccer game has altered my once trepidation in sharing personal activities.  She mentioned that in sharing my reasons, I was giving those younger women I worked with a path and permission to prioritize their families in the future.  In no way to I want to discount the realities of the workplace, as I have first hand experience with the real prejudice and discrimination for being a single working woman in my career but it is not the world I would hope for and want others to experience.  I would want less guilt, more balance and more acceptance for all.  If more people opened that door just a little into their personal life, we would see that we may have more in common than we have differences. Inclusion is not just about race, gender or sexual orientation.  It’s about true acceptance and bringing in those that may be different than us.  It’s about understanding and practicing empathy – a competency in high EQ individuals.

Being it is January, I have another commitment.  A commitment to not be as judgmental and to be more understanding of others.  To see others for who they are and value the differences among us.  Even if it means, they prioritize work differently than I and even if they express their disapproval of my decisions and priorities at work. It’s the world I hope would exist rather than what may be the current reality.

Will you join me?  What are your thoughts and what is your experience?

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.” Abraham Lincoln

(Read the HBR article referenced above HERE that provoked my thought for the day.  Situation #2)