November 13, 2020

Say this not that


Sometimes we tell ourselves things that aren’t necessarily true, but we still want to believe them anyway.

But what if we do it so often — especially in the workplace — that it becomes counterproductive?

That topic was discussed in Apex’s latest episode in the Light Your Fire: Beyond Burnout series titled, “Mythbusting the Top 10 Lies We Tell Ourselves.” Apex Population Health Specialists Ali Harris and Grace Bennett broke down the 10 lies they hear most often, and how to avoid them.

Let’s look at the list:

No. 1 “My employees are burned out…”

While burnout is often a personal issue, it can be inflamed by the workplace environment. According to Bennett and Harris, that’s where management can help.

“A lot of it has to do with little things that happen within the workplace,” Bennett said.

Solution: Try instead to ask yourself, “What can I do as a leader to help create an environment that prevents burnout?”

No. 2 “I’m fine…”

It’s a popular answer when we are asked how we are doing, even if everything isn’t fine. It’s simply an easy answer to give.

“That’s why we hear it so often,” Bennett said. “We’re so worried about giving other people too much weight or burden. We just don’t want to go there.”

Solution: Try instead saying “I’m [insert applicable adjective here]” to express how you’re really feeling.

No. 3 “Sure, I can do that…”

Sometimes it’s hard to say no, especially when it comes to a work request. A lot of times, it just means piling more on your to-do list. The result: being overwhelmed, which leads to being burned out.

“Sometimes it’s OK to say no,” Harris said.

Solution: Try saying, “let me think about it and get back to you.” This allows time for reflection on your true capacity for additional work, which will then empower you to give a more honest answer.

No. 4 “More is more…”

It’s easy to slip into an assumption that the more hours you work, the better an employee you are. However, that can cause production and burnout issues if you’re working longer hours rather than practicing effective time management.

“You have to be able to let go of guilt,” Harris said. “You have to on take less and be more efficient.”

Solution: Try instead taking the approach of “quality over quantity.”

No. 5 “I’m just tired…”

Fatigue is real. But when it comes to burnout, it can actually be due to an emotion like boredom or lack of motivation.

“There sometimes isn’t a right answer,” Bennett said. “It’s OK to catch yourself saying that when you don’t want to do something. The next step is to take the truthful answer and find a specific solution for it.”

Solution: Ask, “Am I tired or overworked? Tired or bored? Tired or just in a rut?” Saying you’re tired may be a cover-up for burnout or it may indicate that it’s time for you to invest energy in a new activity to positively disrupt your daily routine.

No. 6 “It’s all about the positives…”

This is a hot topic, especially when considering the challenges that this year has thrown at us. However, only focusing on the positives doesn’t bring the real issues to the forefront and doesn’t allow for acknowledgment or resolution.

“Just acknowledge things are really hard right now,” Bennett said. “The conversation can become more positive and we don’t ask how we can improve often enough.”

Solution: Instead, ask, “at an organizational level, what can we do differently?”

No. 7 “Big change is the only way…”

A small conversation or change can have a bigger impact than we realize. Changes don’t have to be big or monumental to create a positive situation.

“We feel overwhelmed by the big changes,” Harris said. “We don’t take a step back and look at the small incremental things we can control.”

Solution: Rather than starting with broad change, take a look at the day-to-day employee experience and ask, “what are some small things we can do to brighten someone’s day?”

No. 8 “I don’t want to be a burden…”

We’ve all been there with feelings of stress and anxiety, and we don’t want to project that onto someone else. We fear that those actions will breed even more anxiety, and we just let it snowball.

“I force myself to reach out and have those conversations,” Harris said. “Oftentimes, it’s been received very well and we go to lunch.”

Solution: Instead, say to yourself, “I am not alone.”

No. 9 “It’s out of my control…”

Things do happen that are out of our control, but the truth is there’s a lot we can control to make us happier. We can also control our response to things that are truly uncontrollable.

“It’s a tough-love situation I have with myself,” Harris said. “I tell myself I’m giving myself an excuse and just go do it.”

Solution: Instead, ask yourself, “what changes can I make to bring energy and positivity into my daily routine?”

No. 10 “I should be grateful…”

Things are hard and stress is high, especially right now. It’s why we feel burned out or overwhelmed. But just because you weren’t furloughed or lost your job this year doesn’t discount your emotions.

“We’re so on ourselves and our toughest critics,” Bennett said. “We give empathy to others, but it’s hard to give it to ourselves. Even if things could be worse for you, it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel stressed or anxious or any kind of negative emotion.”

Solution: Remind yourself, “it’s OK not to be OK.” Everyone experiences life differently and sometimes we need support… and that is OK!

Watch the full episode here.