Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Personal vs Professional

Hello. Yes, I know it has been almost a month since my last blog. The reason for this is because I started a new job. That's right. Yours truly has found a new purpose. The job, is in fact very much like my old job, in a similar office and doing the same old fannying about with press releases, sending mindless emails and pretending to look busy and important on the phone. My experience over the last 2 weeks since starting my new post is not unlike that of starting school. Notepad and pen, check. Fully-functioning computer, check. Nice ironed shirt and polished shoes, check. The difference is, at school, your aim (high grades aside) is to make friends. You want to find people you will actually socialise with outside of the school gates. People who you can confide in and feel comfortable around. People who you don't mind being yourself with. At work, it's a different story. I think it's near to impossible to be FRIENDS with people you work with. The general nature of today's modern work environment means that while you need to get on with your colleagues - collaborate, discuss, formulate ideas with them; they're still colleagues, not friends. Colleagues can get drunk at Christmas parties and slag you off to your boss, they can think your idea is crap and not tell you, they can even steal your stapler and not own up to it. Why? Because they're not your friends! I might be painting a negative picture of work colleagues, but the truth is, if you start trying to be friends with them, it's hard to command respect when circumstances demand it and it's hard to be taken seriously if everyone knows that what you really care about in life is gin, dogs and listening to Ben Folds.

So I got thinking about me, the person i.e who I am with friends and family. And me, the professional, savvy and hugely (cough) efficient professional. Those who know me, will know that on an average day my favourite pastime is doing very little. I like to sit, study a variety of media, eat, drink and pratt about on the Internet. It may sound insanely nonchalant but achieving this state of being is actually quite hard work. I need to ensure all my personal admin is complete, the food shopping is done, the kitchen is clean and then some. Only when these banal tasks are finished can I reach my true state of being - that of a fairly lazy yet introspective watcher of the world. Someone who only talks to people they want to talk to rather than talk for the sake of talking. This persona is something only my friends should know. Imagine if this is how my work colleagues knew me? I'd be considered an ineffectual and unmotivated 'blue sky' thinker rather than doer. The kind of person that spends more time organising their inbox just so they don't have time to send important emails. When I'm at work, I am a different person, no doubt about it. I talk to people because doing so will get me ahead, I ruthlessly plan tasks so when I execute them I'm confident in doing so. I prepare thoroughly for meetings so I don't come across as flaky. These are traits a boss wants to see an employee, they're not qualities that people necessarily want in their friends. Some people might say it's deceitful to not be yourself at work - but I think that the personal 'you' and the professional 'you' can happily co-exist. Why? Because there are still core elements of 'me' that exist across both persona - the things that really make me, me. When I left my old job, my leaving card said things like 'we will miss your dry wit', 'I won't have anyone to curtly dismiss my taste in music and men' and 'who will I chat to about Jack Bauer now?'. The personal clearly left it's mark, even though at work, I have been, and will continue to be, professional.

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