The great Tim Sackett recently admitted that he, like millions of middle-aged guys, was lonely. He explained that his profession, HR and blogging, pushed him into a world where relationships are wide and shallow.
Indeed, I’ve spoken with many HR folks who have said that they lead a double life. There’s the real world where you function like other people, hoping that when you open your underwear drawer in the morning that you’ll find something to wear that you wouldn’t be mortified to be caught in in the off-chance that you actually were in that accident. Then there’s the work and online world, where you have to mask your experiences somewhat to protect the innocent, or the guilty. We substitute describing our feelings for the really bad decisions our clients make for videos of puppies and kittens doing cute things. I’ve decided to interpret the release of dog videos by friends in HR as the equivalent of releasing hostage videos with a lot of blinking going on. We clearly need help.
Then there’s the issue of authenticity. Let’s face it, most people really don’t like HR people. We have this reputation for being a bit wooden; and a bit out of touch. We get delegated the role of cop. We’re either too cheerful or not cheerful enough. Fake. We attempt to counteract the accusation with being prolific posters of all things delightful. The dichotomy of this leads to a terribly screwed up picture.
The interesting thing to me is that other professions, those that have to deal with a lot of crap, well, they have support lines. Police officers who witnessed violence or are exposed to the drug trade, they have access to professional help. So do child welfare workers and first responders. But HR folks, who have to deal with people sometimes at their worst, well, we’ve got bupkis. And in most organizations, we are a small contingent whereby we can’t really speak with each other about the PTSD associated with dealing with supporting the person publicly humiliated by the boss in a meeting. We set up the EAP but we don’t use it, out of fear of that .000098% chance that confidentiality will be breached.
Well for the benefit of everyone, I think it is time to STOP IT. Unicorns and rainbows are OK, but that’s not all we are about. It is time we supported each other more deeply. It is time to develop deeper friendships. It is time we all told the real story of our lives as a whole and not in parts. Raw rather than idyllic. And this story needs to be told on other platforms beside social media. If there’s one thing that I take away from the Workhuman movement, it is this.
Tim’s advice, “Stop reading blogs and go touch someone. Not inappropriately, but physically see them and talk to them. The human body needs real life relationships to thrive.” Well said.