Are you loyal or stuck?

WORKING WOMAN

November 15, 1992|By Niki Scott

Nancy has worked for the same company for 15 years, and never once has she looked for another job.

"I have no desire to job-hunt!" she sputtered, after I suggested at a recent seminar that everybody job-hunt every few years, both to keep their interviewing skills honed and compare salaries and benefits.

"I can't believe you'd suggest such a thing! Why rock the boat? Haven't you ever heard of loyalty?" she asked. "What's wrong with good, old-fashioned loyalty -- and gratitude that you have a job at all?"

The answer is: absolutely nothing -- unless "loyalty" and "gratitude" are stopping us from insisting that we're paid what we're worth and treated with the appreciation and respect that we deserve.

Nancy's "loyalty" is costing her about $6,000 a year, for example. Secretaries in her area of the country with her credentials and experience earn at least this much more per year than she, and chances are they're every bit as loyal and grateful as she is -- and a lot less angry.

But sometimes we allow ourselves to be underpaid and taken for granted (or, in our personal relationships, even abused) in the names of "loyalty" and "gratitude," when the real reasons we stay long after we should leave have to do with fear of the unknown and low self-esteem.

And sometimes women who have been carefully taught not to be demanding or rock the boat say we're too "loyal" to job-hunt (or leave a destructive relationship) when in fact we're too insecure to believe that anyone else would hire us.

Sometimes we're too "grateful" and "loyal" to entertain the idea of finding a better job because what's familiar is always less scary than what is unfamiliar.

Sometimes we're too "loyal" to leave a dead-end job because at least we can tell ourselves, on bad days, that one of these days we're going to waltz over to another company and make twice the money, and we don't know what we'd do on bad days if we didn't have this to tell ourselves.

And sometimes we stay in a job (or a bad relationship) too long simply because we're not completely sure that we're worth more money (or love). And because job-hunting (or being uncoupled again) is a loathsome, scary, time-consuming and exhausting proposition.

If you find yourself feeling inappropriately angry when you think (or talk) about your reasons for staying in a job or a bad relationship, you might try finishing the sentence: "I'm staying in NTC this job (or relationship) because I'm . . . " and not use the words "loyal" or "grateful" -- or whatever other words you've been using to keep yourself stuck.

It's always better to know how much we'd be worth to another employer, whether or not we decide to leave our present job, just as it's always best to be clear about what we will -- and won't -- put up with in our personal relationships.

Knowing allows us to make choices and decisions. Refusing to look at any situation realistically, or gather information about other options, keeps us grateful.

Universal Press Syndicate

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