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Therapeutic Suffering

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Image: Bob RosnerI was at the gym discussing my less than perfect posture this morning with Kyle Davis, a master trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Seattle.

I told Kyle that my shoulders were killing me after doing the rotator cuff exercises that he’d shown me to help stand me up straighter. He just laughed and called my pain, “therapeutic suffering.” Suffering that was required to get me to a better place.

Immediately I knew that I’d have to steal his phrase for the workplace. Because it explains so much about what we all need to know to survive today’s turbulent economy.

Call me a tad too cynical, but the workplace has two kinds of suffering right now. Therapeutic and Non-Therapeutic suffering. Sure I’ve heard that there are happy people out there, but after over 50,000 emails from readers, I can count them on one hand. Then again, before I changed the name of my weekly column to Workplace911 it was called Working Wounded.

Back to therapeutic suffering, when a boss hassles you to make a presentation perfect, that would qualify as therapeutic, the goal is to make you better. When a boss yells at you for the sake of yelling, as had happened to a friend of mine earlier last week, well that’s the non-therapeutic version. Or abuse, short sightedness or just bad management.

The key is to take the time to sort out the therapy level in whatever pain you’re experiencing. Give the challenging economy, most of us aren’t in a position to jump ship at our first non-therapeutic treatment. But if the suffering becomes too non-therapeutic, we can always get Human Resources, our Union or other loyalists in the company to support our cause.

The interesting part. Even if you can’t change the behavior or your job, just knowing that you’re being treated unfairly just might be able to help you to keep your cool and to maintain your perspective.

Use the concept of therapeutic suffering at work and you just might find yourself improving your posture too.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]


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