Fleeting Tale XV

Emotional Chess Match

Some people treat emotions like a chess match. Feelings are like a game to some people. To some, its the literal meaning behind ‘playing’ with somebody’s emotions. It’s why I’ve been considering a new philosophy on life, and the workplace. This philosophy to which I’m referring, I feel (but on the inside) gets a bad rap. But, I’ve learned that in a game of thrones without-the-blades-incest-and-necromancer type culture, keeping your emotions in check isn’t about looking tough, its about your survival. Always count on the office “little-finger” to use your emotions against you and in their favor.

He debated whether showing how he really felt did more harm that good.

He exhaled slowly into his face mask, trying to slow his racing heart.

He wasn’t wrong. His coworker attacked him first and he reacted- just not in kind.

“Are you following?” His supervisor asked.

His reaction was human. His reaction was the realest thing the office had seen since he started working there. He showed real emotions, as opposed to the fake offense and hurt she showed- playing the victim role all too well.

He nodded. “I’m following.”

He chose to reserve his response for after his boss delivered his monologue about finding ways to come together as a team to support the office.

He dug his nails into inner wrist, leaving indentations.

He didn’t start the fight. That woman antagonized him regularly with her snarky remarks and condescending tone. But he was the one being spoken to because he boiled over, after months of that woman applying heat and pressure to his patience.

“Anything to say?” His supervisor questioned.

He purposely blocked out a lot of what his supervisor said. None of it applied to him because he was only defending himself against a subtle, calculated attack.

“Yeah…” He replied.

He sat up straight in his chair.

He was a Man, and she was a Woman. The optics. It looked bad. Did not matter whether it was fair or not. He lost his cool. In a female dominated office, he looked and sounded like the bully. The aggressor.

“I’ll work to resolve this,” He answered, trapping his true feelings behind his deadpan demeanor. “I wouldn’t mind meeting with her more often.”

His supervisor nodded. “That will help.”

“Look… I’m here to support the office,” He added. “I’m sure she and I can come to a consensus.”

His boss smirked. “Great, that’s what I like to hear.”

He forced a smirk.

His boss turned to his computer. “I know some articles you can read that can help.”

“Great,” He replied.

Why is nobody scheduling hour long meetings with…

“Send them over,” He said.

Know what… not even worth it.

He remembered something he read, which coincided with something his therapist tells him. Something about…

Frame my thoughts… don’t let outside influences affect me… focus on what I have control over.

He allowed that woman into his thoughts and emotions.

His heart slowed to a steady beat.

He allowed her to beat him. She baited and checkmated him on that conference call and made him look silly.

Guilt and embarrassment replaced his anger.

He stood from the chair. “I appreciate the talk, sir.”

“No problem,” His supervisor replied. “Maybe you and I can talk more often. Discuss your goals and aspirations.”

“Sure,” He said. “Sounds like a plan.”

He exited the office calmer, wiser and more humbled than he entered.

His goal… to guard his emotions in the office, so he can never be caught like he did again.

He grinned as he sat at his desk.

From that day forward, until the day he found a new job, all they will ever see is a grin. They weren’t worth any more, or any less, than a painted on grin. A you’re-not-worth-my-emotions grin.

He opened his browser and typed remote work in Washington DC in the search bar.

Several results. But he needed a solution in the meantime.

He opened another browser and typed stoicism at work.

That’s what he needed. He needed stoicism. He needed to be stoic.

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