Unlike many industries, the marketing and comms sector thrives on drama. Our job is often to make the mundane sound exciting and newsworthy, but I think we can all be guilty of - and before you think i'm preaching, I count myself in this group - letting this drama all-consume, resulting in the 'Awfulisation' of everything.
An abrupt email, a negative piece of feedback, or perhaps a change in direction during a project, can lead us to complete despair. All this, far too frequently, culminates in emails written through heavily gritted teeth whilst making everyone else around you aware of the next level of "crazy" you're dealing with.
Yet, often these things that drive us to near madness are, in the grand scheme of things, very small. And you realise this when you head to meet friends or family after work, who most likely have no idea what PR is, and you explain (with arms flung out wide and wild eyes) the "terrible" things that happened to you that day. Only to be greeted by a mere "oh dear...", instantly squashing your dramatic story.
I think what we as communications professionals have in common is that we invest heavily emotionally in what we are doing on a daily basis. And this investment leaves us open to disappointment or defeat. A wise colleague said to me recently that the biggest stress in our industry is that we live and die by client volume, which puts stress and drama as the heart of our work. Don't get me wrong, drama is good in our industry, but only when managed. And I think it's high time that we (and by that I mean I) acknowledge when we are getting "emotionally hacked" and instead remain calm. It won't just benefit our career prospects and those around us, but also our wellbeing. And let's face it, that's one thing that is far more important than any press release :)
Are you guilty of “awfulising”? I’m not judging. I’m just looking for some company. “Awfulising”, as diagnosed by the authors of a new book on coping at work, is what you do when something goes ever-so-slightly wrong and you blow it up into a catastrophe. What normal person doesn’t do this from time to time? And yet it’s self-defeating, exhausting and ugly. Plus, it’s spreading: digital overload, work pressure and rising anxieties all mean that more of us are prone to this kind of thinking.