It’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re surrounded by so much technology that it’s having a direct impact on us human beings. We are becoming robots, and unfortunately, as we become more programmed, our basic human instincts are diminishing; instincts like feelings, emotional intelligence, values and the basics of human contact and relationships. Any communication is now electronic. Could Will Smith smash through the window and save me, I, Robot style? I can only dream…
Let me clarify this with an example. I recently witnessed a fellow millennial in my workplace, not someone from my own team, but we share an office floor. I was sat on a set of tables by her waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting, so naturally, I watched her work while I waited. She was tapping away fast on her computer, so fast she could give Flash a run for his money. She was working with such determination and efficiency that you could (not quite literally) see fire coming out of her. The laptop screen lit up her face and her phone buzzed away with texts and emails. She was the epitome of the office working woman.
A while later, I passed her during that awkward moment in the ladies toilets when you’re trying to get in a cubicle, and she’s getting out. And you know what? She looked exhausted, like she needed a break. A thousand breaks, even. I smiled at her as she passed, but nothing returned except deep-set and tired eyes. When I walked past her desk later on to get back to mine, she was away at work again, literally seconds after clearly needing some mental down-time in the toilets. She was smiling away like nothing had happened, and everyone else remained silent and robotic in their working, side by side, row by row.
This experience posed many a question once I sat back down. Does this happen regularly to her? Is her work really so important that she feels like she can’t physically nor mentally switch off and take a break? Is nipping out to the ladies’ the closes she gets to an escape from her working day? Where’s the emotion in this office?
The more these questions circled in my head, the more I opened my eyes and realised that everyone looked the same. It’s like we’ve been manufactured to work that way, killing every emotive response that we have in our body. Sadly, the death of interaction came with this death of emotion; email or instant message replaced physical conversation, lunch breaks were reduced to sitting alone, phone in one hand, sandwich in another. Nobody moved, nobody went for a wander, nobody went outside.
But I don’t want to become a robot. I want to maintain my emotions and my ability to interact. How do we avert that? The next time you’re happy, show it with laughter. When you’re pissed off, show it by approaching someone and asking for advice (people tend to enjoy that because it generally leads to a conversation whereby everyone can be pissed off together, in the most productive way of course). Let banter bounce around the office, let people complain about you being too happy (true story). Are people offended by our happiness, or their lack of? Or is it because we’re daring enough to show even an inch of emotion freely?
These changes keep us in the natural place of being emotional human beings rather than the robots that the workplace wants us to be. We still get shit done, but it’s done with resilience, wit, and - dare I say it - an enjoyable work environment.
Regardless of what society and workplace culture says about the weakness of showing emotion, don’t be afraid to. Emotions are a huge strength that can be spread like wildfire. Laugh, cry, frown, grin, and spread emotions throughout your workplace. Marina and the Diamonds were on to something, you know…