Whether you’re out of work and looking for a job; feel trapped in your current one and are looking at a transfer or promotion, or yes even burnt out and counting the days to retirement, do a self-check on your state of mind.
You see how you feel is no doubt being picked up by those around you, those you meet, and those you work with now. How do you want to be perceived and viewed and most importantly is the way you want to be viewed by others close to how you feel?
It is a good practice to do a self-check from time-to-time no matter how you feel. For example, when you’re working doing your job, try to keep the same expression on your face and get to a mirror. Without relaxing any facial muscles, smiling or changing in any way, look at your face reflecting back at you. What do you see? Are there furrowed brows, crease lines on your forehead, droopy eyelids or a frown? What does you face communicate to you as you look at yourself.
As you stand there, change a little at a time. Add a smile, relax your jawbones or stop clenching your teeth. Breathe out and in deeply a few times and then re-examine the face in the mirror. Does it now seem different to you and if so in what way? If it does, why does your, “I’m in the middle of work” face look different from your, “I am consciously relaxing” face?
Most importantly, does your face communicate openness and do you seem approachable? Or does your face send the message that everyone should steer clear of you? If you’re trying to position yourself for that promotion or transfer, it might help your cause to look positive, engaged, pleasant and approachable. Remember that positive people generally like surrounding themselves with others who are positive. If you go around looking hostile, burnt out or miserable most of the time, you just might attract others who look like you do; misery does like company. The danger here is that once surrounded by others who are negative, you might find yourself much more miserable and having a dour outlook on things you once felt positive about.
Reminding yourself that you, as a member of the organization which employees you have a role to play in keeping the culture and atmosphere a positive one is critical. Too many times I’ve listened to unhappy employees blame Management for the rotten atmosphere they say they work in. We all have a part to play in making our workplaces an enjoyable place to work, and while it can be the case that some others just seem to look for reasons to be negative, you need not be one of them.
One thing you can do with respect to your self-check is compare how you feel about your job on a typical work day with your time away from work. Do you feel anxious the day before you return to work or do you look forward to going into your job? While you don’t have to love the work you do with giddy infatuation, you should certainly enjoy the job and being around most of those you work with as you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time working surrounded by these people. If you’re not happy most of the time, if you don’t feel inspired or feel that your work is meaningful, why are you still dragging yourself in? Look around, life is too short to spend it in misery. Start planning your departure from this line of work or employer, and then be gracious when you leave for something better.
Now if you’re out of work, you’ve got to work hard at projecting your demeanor; coming across as someone who will have a positive influence in a new employer’s workspace. If you are brooding, look frustrated, look far too serious and weighed down with personal issues, it’s unlikely you’re coming across as attractive to those who might be in a position to hire you.
Of course when you’re unemployed and need to work you are under stress. The anxiety of mounting financial liabilities and any shame or embarrassment you might be experiencing by being unemployed can be a burden for sure. Add in some other stressors in your personal life and it gets harder to constantly project that rosy exterior that says, “Life is good and I’m glad to be a part of it!”
Yes I get that. You need to understand or perhaps be reminded that your issues are exactly that – your issues. Potential employers don’t really concern themselves with resolving your issues because they have no investment in you until you join their ranks. To join their ranks, you and I both know you have to come across as qualified, experienced and a personal good fit; meaning you have to be attractive in some way.
So, mind what you think and how what you think is being communicated non-verbally through your facial expressions and your body language. Move with confidence, smile more – even if in the early days you find yourself having to force this trial period. Like most habits one tries to change, alter or adapt to, things become more matter of fact and routine the more you do them.
And you’re never fully dressed without a smile!