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'It's not fair'

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

What to do when work becomes a burden

For many people, life in the workplace just isn't fair. They work like a horse, make countless sacrifices for their company, and yet can barely pay their bills. What's worse, some are treated like children, and get no respect or recognition for their efforts.

It's just not fair!

Compounding the problem for some people is what they perceive as favouritism by management on behalf of people they consider not as qualified or as deserving as they are.

One worker was incensed by the promotion to manager of someone she had tutored when the person first joined the company.

Another expressed his exasperation at his boss' repeated refusal to grant him a pay increase, despite the additional workload he had to shoulder.

For these persons and others in similar situations, life is just not fair.

The question many workers ask is: How can I reasonably be expected to put out my best when I know I'm being exploited and feel unjustly treated at work?

Life is Unfair

The first thing to realise is that life itself is unfair. Earthquakes and hurricanes kill innocent thousands. Birds eat worms; that's not fair to the worms. Lions kill deer; that's not fair to the deer. Oh, and you kill and eat chickens, cows, and goats; that's not fair to them either.

Wealthy and powerful people often get away with egregious wrongs while others are punished for much lesser crimes. Persons work less and earn more. Is it right? Maybe not, but that's the way real life is. This is not a sour, cynical world view but rather an accurate report on reality.

So, rather than expecting to see fairness, expect unfairness. Rid yourself forever of the myth that the world is just and fair. The loss of this delusion heralds the arrival of wisdom.

Power to Choose

We can choose to use the lack of fairness to justify our anger, resentment and unhappiness. We can use injustice to excuse our choice to sabotage our boss. Or to rationalise our choice to be argumentative, insubordinate, or outright violent in our determination to get justice. But ultimately it is our choice.

Nothing is wrong with seeking justice, but why be upset and irrational about it? There are countless things you can do. Appeal to higher authority within the firm; employ union representation; learn how to negotiate effectively to get what you want.

What if everything fails to get you justice? You can leave the company. You may think: But I won't get another job; what else would I do?

The fact is, however, that you have chosen to stay in an unfair situation. And you can choose to leave it any day.

If you decide to stay, you can choose to give of your best. Your attitude is completely up to you. To misquote former American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you angry, resentful, mediocre, or unproductive without your permission.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and a personal achievement strategist.