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Who’s The Jellyfish in Your Workplace?


Today we welcome Tyler Dixon of Millennial in the Middle to the Working Self Millennial Perspectives series!

So apparently the jellyfish are taking over. Have you ever seen one? I have. Both in the water and out of it.

First the water:  years ago I was bodysurfing in the ocean with my cousin when she exclaimed, “What is that? It looks like an alien!” I turned, saw it, and yelled as loud as my squeaky, pre-pubescent voice could carry: “Jellyfish!” We frantically swam toward shore, although in our adolescent minds we were already dead. We thought it a miracle that we made it to land without meeting our doom, entangled in the electric tentacles of that evil demon-fish.

I remembered that episode while thinking about an experience I had at work. One former co-worker there was, well, not what you would consider a “happy person,” and she didn’t want anyone else to be either. She seemed to just hover from area to area, with criticism and a downer attitude accompanying her wherever she landed. That’s when it hit me: She is a Jellyfish!

Following that realization, I offer some tips on recognizing the jellyfish in your workplace – and avoiding being one yourself!

Workplace Jellyfish Are Unproductive

Jellyfish meander without a sense of purpose or any type of end-game. They live, they eat, they die. It’s pretty sad when you think about it.

What’s more sad is that there are humans that have very “jellyfishy” habits. Jellyfish-people fail to see the importance of productivity and the satisfaction daily productivity can bring.

Productive people are happy people. They become passionate about their work as they set and attain goals. Unlike jellyfish-people, productive people have a daily purpose, and they know what that purpose is.

A team of researchers, led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School in the U.K., found that there are clear links between workers’ happiness and their productivity:

“We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity, [and] positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.” – Andrew Oswald, PhD

Not only does being happy make you more productive, but being productive makes you happy. It’s a cycle. However, it’s important to be clear about what we mean by “productivity.”

Being busy does not equate to being productive. Being productive means efficiently accomplishing clear goals that you set for yourself. By accomplishing multiple small goals, you feel accomplished. Your attitude improves, your self-esteem gets a boost, and passion for your work grows. Productivity will also forge trust and respect between you and those you work with. You will feel appreciated.

Jellyfish, on the other hand, are not appreciated by anybody. No one likes them except Spongebob Squarepants.

Workplace Jellyfish Sting People

Jellyfish stings are pretty common. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The long tentacles trailing from the jellyfish body can discharge thousands of microscopic barbed stingers that release venom into your skin.” Yeah, no thanks.

Jellyfish stings vary in severity. Most of the time they will cause immediate pain and irritate your skin, although some stings “may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness, and in rare cases, jellyfish stings are life-threatening.” Are you coming to despise these good-for-nothing sea beasts yet?

For those of you who have dealt with jellyfish-people in the workplace, at school, or elsewhere, you understand that some of the things they do or say can hurt. They find it gratifying to criticize those around them. Why? Because everybody wants to feel successful or worthy in some way. While some people attain that feeling by productively striving for success, others attempt to psychologically force other people below them.

The sad truth is that jellyfish-people likely suffer from low self-esteem and are unsure how to properly pick themselves up. Unfortunately, their unhappiness permeates any area nearby, causing those in the vicinity to suffer its ill-effects.

Inherent negativity is a part of human nature, but it does not have to be for you. You will be much happier in whatever you do when you focus on your individual goals and productivity. So if you are having one of those days where you feel that sea beast materializing within you, take a deep breath, re-focus, and retract those tentacles.

How to Deal with Workplace Jellyfish

Apparently, South Korea has deployed a jellyfish-hunting robot to deal with their jellyfish overpopulation problems. It attracts jellyfish into a net and makes jellyfish jelly out of them. Although the South Korea model may seem attractive to some, I would highly recommend that you not implement it in dealing with jellyfish-people…if you want to avoid jail time! Instead, let me suggest some effective ways to deal with jellyfish-people:

1. Understand the underlying cause of their actions. As I mentioned, many of these people put others down because of their own low self-esteem.

2. Choose a course of action. Once you understand jellyfish-people, there are two things for you to do: (1) be patient; and (2) be the bigger person. Part of being the bigger person is avoiding gossiping about that person to others, and discouraging others from doing so. Spreading spite does no one any good. Instead, kill them with kindness (again, not literally!).

3. Boost them up. Smile. Give them genuine compliments on their appearance. If they accomplish something at work, let them know you admire that. By encouraging them, you are chipping away at the underlying problem and boosting their self-esteem. Doing so will not only make them happier, but make you feel good about yourself while constructing a positive atmosphere.

All in all, as you move through the ocean of life remember:  stay productive, stay positive, and don’t be a jellyfish!

In the comments below, tell us:  How do you deal with jellyfish-people? And have you ever been one yourself?!

Photo Credit: juliatenney

Tyler Dixon About the author: Tyler Dixon is a millennial law student, husband, dad, and author of the blog Millennial in the Middle (http://millennialinthemiddle.wordpress.com/).

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