- [huge grin] “No, we don’t get that. We like getting away with something.”
- “We like it when we’re walking away from things, even if we’re a little wrong.”
I didn’t even ask any assholes about this. Just (seemingly) normal guys.
So you can only imagine if I had asked some total douchebags: “That’s how you get bitches to do what you want. Wait, I just violated the douchebag code of silence! KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF.”
So, how many times per week (per day?) do you feel guilty? How many of them are justified?
Next time you find yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself, what, exactly, your crime was.
Make sure you’re comparing yourself to a baseline for a competent, above-average human (and no more). For instance, are you feeling guilty because you said you’d get something done but something else popped up unexpectedly? Human beings can’t actually predict the future and should not feel guilty about this. All human beings are supposed to be able to foresee things like, “If I drive drunk, people might die.” Competent, above-average humans are supposed to be able to forecast things like roughly how long a project should take if nothing totally crazy happens. Sometimes, totally crazy things happen.
If your guilt is unjustified, let it go. If you have to close your eyes and imagine yourself blowing it away like dandelion fluff, please do. Or say, “Oh, I was having an irrational guilt feeling.” Don’t own it. Treat it like hiccups. It’ll go.
More importantly, next time you find yourself acting like a guilty person, stop – other people can smell this.
If you have to ask “What would a dude do?”, do so, even if you ultimately end up pursuing a middle-ground approach. But please don’t go around wheedling and pleading and underhandedly manipulating when you could just say, “This isn’t working for me, but thanks so much for the opportunity,” or, “Because we’ve had a lot of unexpected employee absences, I’ve written this revised workflow document with a new deadline,” or, “Would you please put this invoice in today?”
(For more on emotional management, see Bullish: How to Win When the Workplace Runs on Feelings, in which I posit a theory of “Emotional Currency Arbitrage”).
Unnecessary guilt helps no one.