Friday, November 27, 2009

Why do most People Hate their Work and their Clients?

By Tom Kando

Warning: take the following piece with a grain of salt, i.e. not too seriously:

I recently had a negative experience with a physician - neither my first nor my last, I’m sure. He clearly disliked sick people, and he had a superiority complex. In other words, he had an attitude problem. (In a pretty good movie called Malice, Alec Baldwin says that physicians have a God complex. Well, I wouldn’t go that far).
But doctors are not unique. It is fair to say that most people dislike what they do for a living.

Take my own profession - university professors: A lot of them hate teaching and they despise students. They’ll do anything to get release time for committee work and for “research.” At department meetings, I heard colleagues say, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get out of teaching,” and “I don’t want teaching to interfere with my work.”

How about other professions? Police, for instance. To be sure, there are lots of problems with the police. They see themselves as an elite fraternity, apart from and above the population. In general, they enjoy their work until burn-out sets in. I can attest to that.

Do most psychiatrists hate and despise mental patients? I’m not sure. Nor do I have a fix on lawyers.

Of course, there are mitigating circumstances. For example, teachers may argue that they wouldn’t hate their job so much if it weren’t for all the bureaucratic impediments, the paperwork, the BS.

Physicians, same thing: They often complain about the heavy burdens of having to deal with Insurance companies, HMO, PPO and hospital administrators, etc. This is an aspect of medicine that is particularly pronounced in the US, whose medical system is so costly and complicated.

But the excuse does not wash entirely. For one thing, in my experience, some European doctors also seem to have a burr up their ass.

Furthermore, doctors make a lot of $$$$ in the US. So they should be willing to put up with some crap. Maybe Leon Festinger’ Cognitive Dissonance is at work here: He discovered in his laboratory experiments that the subjects who were paid the most hated the task the most. Festinger summed up his findings as follows: “People and rats learn to appreciate the things for which they suffer.” Maybe we should pay physicians less, and they’d become happier!

Anyway, why do so many people dislike their work?

Well, you don’t have to have a PhD in Sociology to answer this: (1)Work, by definition, is obligatory. (2) everything becomes boring after a few decades, even a vocation you chose because it first turned you on. (3) work is reimbursed.

So here is the solution: (1) people’s jobs should be voluntary (Think of Doctors without Borders). (2) People should not hold the same job for longer than a few years. (3) People shouldn’t be paid (very much) for what they do. This last point goes back to Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory. See, it’s like me and my writing: Far from making me money, my writing actually costs me money. That’s why I enjoy it so much (Can you believe such BS?). leave comment here