Combating ‘they ought to’ mentality

It can feel like a battle to maintain a positive outlook at work. Between organizational shifts, office politics, and general fatigue, staying motivated can be difficult. Most days  I am able to stay productive and engaged, but nothing can hijack momentum like the wrong mentality. By ‘mentality’, I am referring to a state of mind that may influence how work is accomplished or viewed. There are obvious negative and positive mentalities, a ‘can-do’ attitude is an example of a positive mentality while ‘things never go my way.. ‘ is a negative mentality.

I encountered one particularly insidious mentality while I was refilling my coffee in the break room that I began to coin as ‘They Ought To’ mentality. Many people were huddled in a circle discussing the changes to company benefits. I could hear that one person was leading the discussion, while the others were listening and taking turns to also express their disapproval, ‘They Ought to provide additional vacation’…..’at Laura’s company they give every man 6 weeks of paid paternity leave!’…..’If you’re lucky you’ll get a 3% raise!’, who can live with that?’

Now, I want to clarify I am not stating that paternity leave, maternity leave, and other employee benefits should not be advocated for. These are all great benefits that I believe in many places can strengthen the organization that provides them.  The problem with this mentality is that it is disguised as a legitimate concern but offers no alternative solution. It is simply just stating a problem and  provides no constructive approach to resolve it, since no one can argue on behalf of the organization and no one can identify ‘they’. Regardless of what service ‘they ought to’ provide is, in most cases it has already been identified as not being available. We can argue who should provide it, but the fact remains that it is not being provided and that is likely not to change any time soon. How would the internal or external conversation go from this perspective?

Approaching the same issue in another way might look like this:

The organization or institution does not provide (x).

Is (x) important to me or my family?

Am I willing to look for other opportunities so that my family and I can be provided with (x)?

What are other ways I can get (x) without having to rely on my organization?

If someone is not interested in following through the reasoning above, then would (x) continue to be a real need for them?




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