Demoralized in the workplace


I met a woman who was so demoralized at work that she no longer seemed to care about her co-workers or her customers.  I saw her one morning when I went to the motor vehicle license bureau to renew my automobile license plate.  When I arrived, the line up outside the door was long.  I had to wait for more than thirty minutes before I was able to approach a service wicket.      Finally, my turn came.  As I walked up to the counter, I smiled and said a cheerful “Hi! I need to renew my license, please.”      She replied in a distinctly whinny voice, “Do you want one or two years, Sir?” “I didn’t even know you could get two years,” I replied, “I’ll take the two, please.”      She paused.  Then, in a gruffer voice, said “Well, when you come back in two years you won’t be seeing me.”      When I asked what she meant, she said, “I hate this job!  I hate the people I work for, and the people in line are so rude.”      Wow! This woman’s tub was certainly unplugged.  Someone, somewhere, at some time or another, had demoralized her to the point where there was no longer any plug big enough to fit her tub.  Consequently, she was affecting everyone around her, including customers.      Though taken aback by her comments, I nevertheless tried to keep the conversation brighter and show some interest in her situation.  “If I come back in two years what are you going to be doing?”      “I’m going to win the lottery.  Then, I’m out of here,” she said      Smiling, I took out my wallet and pulled out a scratch-and-win card, and handed it to her.  “Maybe this is your lucky day!”      She took the lottery ticket, and looking incredulously at it asked, “Why are you giving this to me?”      I told her that I buy about 10 a year and give them out to complete strangers.  I explained how many incredible people I have met by handing them out.  She looked at the bottom of the ticket.  There, in big, bold letters she read, “Up to 50,000 dollars.”  Her face lit up with excitement, and she looked me straight in the eyes, “If I win the $50,000 I am going split 50/50 with you.”      “You mean to tell me that if you win $50,000 you are going to give me $25,000?” She nodded her head in agreement, confirming her resolve to share the win if her luck held out.      “Well,” I said, “You’d better start scratching.”      I love doing practical jokes on people.  One of the things I like to buy at the magic store is a packet of fake scratch-and-win cards.  They look identical to the ones sold in the variety stores.  They have the bar code on the back and every time someone scratches the card, the holder appears to win—you got it—$50,000 dollars!      I laugh every time I hand these out to people.  I love watching how they change when they think they have won a large amount of money.  What is more, no one has ever been angry with me.  In fact, they see the joke, and are more cheerful than when I first give them the ticket.      I knew this woman was going to jump up and down and start to scream with excitement when she scratched the ticket.  It’s what everyone does.  As, the license bureau clerk scratched her ticket, I made sure I didn’t make any eye contact with her.  After all, I didn’t want her to get suspicious.  Suddenly, I heard her give out a big, “Ohhhhhhhhh!”      At that point, I lifted my head and asked, “How did you do”?  She immediately turned her ticket over, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “Sorry I didn’t win a thing.”      I was stunned.  I knew she was lying to me. However, since I wasn’t supposed to know, I didn’t say anything.  Rather, she gave me the sticker for my license, and out the door, I went.  Before I got into my car, I decided to peek through the window and there she was jumping up and down showing off her ticket to everyone.  Was she in for a surprise! Now the point of the story is this.  When employees are demoralized, they think only about themselves.  When teammates act this way, they destroy the team.  Their life becomes all about “What’s in it for me.” Now, here was a person at the license bureau, who lied and displayed no integrity.  Her tub was unplugged so she saw no reason to be a part of the team.  Nor did she care what her customers thought. In retrospect, giving that dear lady a phony winning ticket only served to antagonize her and demoralize her even further.   As I learn more about and apply the principles of plug the tub, my relationships have improved in my home life and in my professional life.   Had I have known then what I know now, I would not have given her that ticket.   If you want to be successful as a manager or supervisor you need to recognize when staff members are demoralized… and Plug the Tub.

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