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A Bitter Pill to Swallow

I'm sure you've all met one, worked with one...heck, maybe you've even been one: A Bitter Betty or Bob. The person on the team who never has anything good to say about the organization, their co-workers and/or their supervisor. Dissatisfaction spews from them like lava from a volcano; slow, endless and potentially destroying much of what lies in its path.

Kate Moore, RPR
MQ Editor
In the interest of full disclosure, I have met, worked with, and yes, I've even been a Bitter Betty. I'm not proud to say it, but I've been there. Fortunately, I came to the conclusion that I was not only unhappy in my job, I was making everyone around me miserable at home and at work. The decision to change jobs was difficult and scary, but it was the right one and I have never looked back.

Years later, I can look back and be grateful for that moment of self-awareness because I have it to thank for my current happiness at work. And I can even be grateful for the experience of having been unhappy because I appreciate the fact of being engaged and satisfied in my job that much more.

Why, then, do so many BBs fossilize in their jobs, never happy but never willing to change? I have to confess that as an HR professional who has the sometimes dubious pleasure of being on the other end of such exchanges, I sometimes think, why don't you just leave, then? That's not to minimize situations where very real difficulties exist for someone in their workplace, but usually, where BBs are concerned, that is not the case. Usually it is traced back to an event that took place that didn't go in their favour - promotion denied, conflict with a co-worker, or some other perceived injustice - that was never resolved in their mind and therefore cannot be let go. I once had a client bring up a beef he had with the organization that occurred 17 years prior, and he was clearly still dragging that baggage around with him! How exhausting.

Brian Pascal talks about change in this month's President's Message, and he is right when he says that change is very often an uncomfortable process. Inertia is generally a much easier state to tolerate, than hurling pell-mell into goodness knows what. Still, the short term pain of making a change in your life is more often than not far outstripped by the positive impacts it can have. Is this not a much more pleasurable alternative to coming to work miserable every day and making those around you equally unhappy?

I suppose that in the end, I come around to the conclusion that, to a certain extent, I feel sorry for the Bitter Bettys and Bobs of the world. Life is so short and so uncertain, and we spend so much of our precious time at work. Why spend it being unhappy, and then allow that unhappiness to spill over into your personal life? Having the courage to step forward and open yourself to change might not only make you a happier person, but may also lead to greater success down the road.


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