Hello Workwell

When Your Skeletons Come Out to (Work and) Play

LearnAlyssa Davis
Photo by Cassidy Kelley on Unsplash

Photo by Cassidy Kelley on Unsplash

"Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” – Jack Canfield

Can’t Buy Me Locked Lips

Money can only buy silence for so long. R. Kelly, Weinstein, and even the 70-year-old toddler in the Oval Office found that out the hard way. We anticipate that you (being part of our reader base) haven’t paid anyone off to keep your secrets locked tight. Thankfully we’re not talking about that kind of past resurfacing to haunt you. However, everybody has their private affairs (not literally we hope – although no judgement here) that they’d rather the whole office be in the dark on.

We’re running under the assumption that the beans have spilled and your secret is now out. How it got out is irrelevant. In this day and age, it’s hard to hide anything. Hello social media. Yes, we can see your tweets from 2010 and so can your employer and your coworkers and the guy from supply chain you’ve been digitally stalking for weeks – get a grip. So now that your secret’s out and all of your colleagues have seen the video of you dancing Risky Business style at a frat house basement party, what’s your next move?

Option 1: Join the Witness Protection Program

A solid choice for anyone who needs a change of pace in life. Flee, hideout, and enjoy your newfound freedom. This is your gateway to a whole new you. New name. New location. New friends – you can finally ditch the ones you’ve been meaning to toss. A new breakup if you’ve been too anxious to do it yourself. Downsides? Maybe, but it certainly has its perks. Is this the best option? Probably not, but we figured we would throw it in there for you just in case.

Option 2: Work Through It – “Not That Serious” Edition

In the grand scheme of things, you’re not that important. Your news will be big for all of two weeks tops, and then someone new will be the talk of the office. There’s only so much people can say about you before they grow bored. Remember that small minds discuss other people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas. Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt for that wisdom.

Secondly, you can only be as embarrassed as you allow yourself to be. If what was uncovered wasn’t that serious, enjoy laughing along. Remind yourself that everyone has done things they’re humiliated over, yours just happened to resurface before theirs.

Option 3: Work Through It – “Fairly Serious” Edition

If what was uncovered has compromised your character, take a deep breath. Allow yourself to be upset over it for a bit. Don’t dwell in the sadness, but give yourself some grace. Remind yourself that this was something that you did at one point, but it isn’t who you are. This single event does not define you as a person.

Make amends if necessary. If what you did was harmful to another, confront it head on. If the secret that came out at work is in regards to someone outside of the office, come clean to that person. You don’t want it getting out in other ways. Apologize without excuses and leave it at that. There’s no need to overdo it. Note that sometimes an apology may not be enough, and that’s okay.

Remember that actions speak louder than words. There’s a reason the cliché exists. Work to gain your coworkers’ trust back through what you do, and know that your office family isn’t perfect either and this too shall pass.

After making amends with others, make amends with yourself. All of the wonderful things that you have accomplished up to this point are still relevant, and you have done all of those things despite your past. Who you are is in the present. Acknowledge that. Mark it as a lesson learned. And move on.