“You’re not the only one who hates your job.”
There are plenty of times when it’s nice knowing you’re not alone. But when you hate your job and are trying to express that to your friends, hearing this come out of someone’s mouth probably results in a lot of eye rolling.
As a former card-carrying member of the “My job sucks club,” I’ve heard this my fair share of times—and I have to tell you that it never, ever helped me to be reminded that lots of people aren’t fulfilled by their roles.
So, to those well-meaning people out there who are guilty of offering this uplifting nugget, I’ll walk you through why you’re not helping at all: No matter why your friends despise their 9-to-5—you’re shutting down the conversation before the other person can tell you exactly what’s going on.
Throwing out this line is not only the furthest thing from helpful advice, but it’s also a good way to make someone who’s asking for help feel as if you want nothing to do with the conversation. And unless you’re a jerk who doesn’t want to hear about how your friend’s feeling, this is probably something you’d like to avoid.
What should you say instead when a friend won’t stop venting about how horrible everything thing is at the office?
Well, it boils down to asking these three questions (in this order):
- What’s going on at work right now?
- Is this a new feeling, or has it been going on for a while?
- How open would you be to starting a job search?
These might look like simple questions, and they are. But that’s all it takes to give your friends the freedom to both fill you in on what’s going on, while also giving you a little guidance as to where their head is at.
For example, someone who answers number one by saying, “We have this annoying client who keeps asking me for additional projects that he won’t pay for” probably just needs to complain for a bit.
But a friend who says that, and then answers number two with, “It feels like all of my clients are asking me for extra work,” opens the door for you to say something like, “Would speaking to your manager help?” or “Is the rest of your team working this hard?”
If the person looks at you and says “My manager doesn’t care and no one else on my team does either,” bring up number three.
But if you get through all of these questions and still can't come up with anything helpful, don’t worry. From my own experience I know that sometimes folks just want to vent a little bit or have someone someone listen while they sort through their thoughts aloud (which asking these questions does!).
But one thing I never expected was for anyone to fix everything on the spot. Sometimes, by just being there, you’re helping a lot more than you know.
Photo of friends courtesy of PeopleImages/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author