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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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What do you do?


We've all been there haven't we? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, we love our job, we feel relaxed; all is well in our world. But slowly we become aware of something unpleasant, a fog is descending, a poison slowly spreading.

We are too polite to say anything, but our irritation grows. We have no choice, we must go, we must escape; we must find a way out.

And so I found myself this week, enjoying the March sunshine, waiting for my London-bound train; excited by the meeting ahead. Life felt really good. Then a voice broke through that joy....

It was a the sound of a disgruntled station employee. A person intent on sharing their disatisfaction, letting us know of their unhappiness; searching for sympathy.

We've all been there haven't we? The friend or colleague who is cross with someone else, who feels the best way to handle it is to spread their unhappiness to others; to take refuge in the 'ooohs' & 'aaaahs' and sympathy of anyone apart from the person they perceive as the cause of their distress.

The person who will happily share their unhappiness with you, even though you are not the cause of that problem. The person who would never dream of doing something positive with their concerns, but thinks nothing of spoiling your day because theirs is not going so well.

So what was so awful that every passenger on Platform 3 needed to know? Apparently a gentleman in a wheelchair had arrived without booking in advance & with the lifts broken, he would need assistance to board his train.

In the week when our most famous paralympian spoke publicly about being forced to crawl off a train, I was appalled. How dare he?

Should I say something or should I seethe quietly & walk away? My train's arrival gave me a legitimate escape route; I had a reason to not get involved, phew.

But as I sat on the train, cross with myself for taking the cowardly route, I realised that what this station employee had done (however repugnant) was in some ways no different to what I have done in the past.

I remembered when my frustration with the actions of one left me venting my feelings about the 'perpetrator' to others. When the need to 'get it off my chest' outweighted any consideration of the feelings of the recipient of my unhappy words. The times when I asked others to share my unhappiness because I wasn't ready to do anything positive to address it.

I hope that my unseen traveller had a safe & dignified journey. His gift to me was a reminder that passive aggression is unhealthy. That saying nothing to the perceived perpetrator, not considering their needs and wants but instead sharing our thoughts can damage our reputation and the happiness of those around us.

Such behaviour spreads discontent, not understanding. That is, indeed, a deadly combination that we should all choose to avoid.

2 Responses

  1. Stuff happens

    Great article Francis

    It reminded me of an ex colleague who used to berate the world in general. Only after they left did we immediate notice a change in "Atmosphere".

    I think the danger is that we become so used to it we do not realise it is happening. Stuff happens and as a trainer you know it will happen right when you least expect it.

    Go to Plan B or roll with it. Do not berate that it has happened its too late its happened!.

    My fathers words of advice and wisdom would be "get on with it!. I would add Learn from it and jog on

  2. Thank you

    Really appreciate your comment Havoc55, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts & wisdom. 

    I agree that one of the joys of this job is the opportunity it gives us to to reflect & learn from the least expected of situations.

    Have a fabulous week.


Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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