A good career is important in life

Frustration job killers: why no job is better than this one

Volker Kitz studied law and psychology in Cologne and New York and then gained experience as a lobbyist, scientist, TV journalist, screenwriter and musician, among others. Today he works as a lawyer and researches at the Max Planck Institute in Munich. Together with the Cologne psychologist Manuel Tusch, he has just published a book at Campus-Verlag: The frustration job killer book - Why it doesn't matter who you work for. In an interview he tells us why no job is better than the current one ...

Frustration job killers: why no job is better than this one

Mr. Kitz, in your book you cite a number of studies which show on average: 80 percent of people are frustrated and completely dissatisfied with their job. Why is that?

In Germany alone that is around 35 million people. Of course that's a blast. We researched for two years and spoke to many of those affected - from different age groups, areas of activity and hierarchical levels. The result: the expectations of our work are simply too high. The job should offer games, fun and excitement, meaning in life, self-fulfillment, recognition, just nice people around us, and of course a lot of money. We look for this job all our lives - but no job in the world can ever give us all of that. Therefore, we are doing ourselves a great favor by rethinking, ending the restless search and using our energy more sensibly. We explain how to do this in our book.

At the same time they say: there is no point in changing jobs, no job is better than the current one. Certainly a good thesis to sell a book. But are you serious?

Absolutely, because we found something amazing in our surveys: There is a very manageable set of problems that people keep referring to over and over again. These problems are essentially: “I don't earn enough money”, “The boss doesn't appreciate my work”, “Everyone is chatting to me”, “Every day is the same”, “All colleagues and customers are insane”. These problems crop up in a similar form everywhere. So hope is sprouting from the sad survey figures: When tens of millions of people in our country alone are so dissatisfied with their work and all complain about the same things - we can seriously believe that this is only because we are all doing the wrong job, have the wrong boss and the wrong colleagues? Do we really all just have to play little sapling, move one place to the right, swap jobs, bosses, offices and colleagues a little - and then everything will be fine?

Today jobs are no longer professions for a lifetime. Often people have four, five, or even more jobs in their lives behind them - and they weren't really satisfied in any of them. They come from bad to worse and yet again and again give in to the deceptive hope that everything will be different with the next boss! The next boss comes and goes, and of course some things change. But they usually don't get any better. The search for a world of work in which these complaints do not exist can therefore only be disappointed. Even people in boardrooms complain that they cannot make decisions and that they are underpaid. First of all, it is important to us to convey the understanding that a job always has certain flaws. In this respect, the job is similar to a love affair: there is no such thing as the perfect partner, and there is no such thing as the perfect job. This insight releases a lot of energy that we can then invest in more effective ways of becoming happy.

Of course there are borderline cases: If I am not only dissatisfied because I would like to have more money in the account - which everyone wants - but if I actually objectively sell myself well below market value, then it is time to switch. If there is not only the constant normal friction with boss, colleagues and customers - which everyone has - but tangible bullying, then it is time to change. The trick is to distinguish between a real one-off problem and the problems that are inextricably linked to the world of work. We tend to see our own case as an isolated case far too quickly. The truth is, you are only encountering problems that everyone else has.

Let's talk about the motives why people have a job: money, power, recognition, freedom, making the world a better place - all pointless?

These are all good reasons for choosing a job. But every reason has its problems and its potential for disappointment. Take, for example, the motif “improve the world”: It is noticeable that dissatisfaction is particularly high among people who work in the non-profit sector. Because they usually have particularly unrealistic expectations of their work and their influence on world events. These expectations are mostly disappointed. Among doctors and teachers, for example - who have undoubtedly a meaningful profession - the number of frustrated people is very high. You are only one of six billion people, regardless of whether you want to improve the world at the United Nations or whether you work for a management consultancy. This insight troubles many people. We don't like to be one of many. But we can't change that. We examine all common motives for choosing a career and explain what they can do - and what they can't. Once you understand this, you have understood a large part of your life.

But money is the nerve of work. This expresses appreciation just as much as it makes success at least something measurable. We have now internalized that money alone does not make you happy. Still, it's a strong incentive. What's wrong with that?

Money is more important than many people want to admit, let's not kid ourselves. But if one thing is proven by studies, it is that we can never earn enough. The classic among these studies is that Two worlds experiment: Test subjects are given the choice between two financial worlds. In one world, they earn 60,000 euros, while the average income is 30,000 euros. In the other world they earn ten times as much: 600,000 euros. However, the average income in this world is one million. What do you think: Which world do the majority of the people surveyed choose? For ten times the amount, but below the average? No. Most people are humble. They would take the lower amount - it is much more important to them that their income is above that of their fellow human beings than that it is particularly high in absolute terms. But now there will always be someone in the world who deserves more than we do. So if you are looking for the job in which he enough earned, will waste his life on an endless, grueling quest.

One of your theses is: If you have a dominant motive, no job in the world will satisfy you. What do you mean by that?

We tend to choose the job based on one dominant motive: money or status or purpose or fun. We then increase the expectations of this crucial aspect to such an extent that reality cannot fulfill them. It's like when we first associate a crispy goose with Christmas and just think about it. If the goose is not as crispy in the end as we have imagined for weeks, then the whole festival is in the bucket. There were so many other things we could have been happy about: nice people around us, a beautiful Christmas tree, festive music. If we expect a little bit of everything at work, but don't expect too much from anyone, then we are much less likely to be disappointed. We call this a mix of expectations.

Now it is difficult to choose your colleagues. Some annoy, others bully. They say: Nothing will change with the next boss. But aren't these strong motives for changing jobs?

Employees perceive constant disruptions as the greatest burden in their professional life. These disorders are different people - with whom we once wanted so much to deal with. Pretty much everyone wants a job where they interact with people. Who would want to spend their professional life alone in front of a white wall? Or just with computers? But where there are people there will always be tension and friction. It is important that we do not project our anger about this onto our specific customers and colleagues, but rather see it as an inevitable price for the fact that we are not alone. In the next job, too, some will get on your nerves, because you already say it when asked: It is difficult to choose your colleagues. There is no job where we only find people we like. Searching for it is a waste of time.

Now let's be specific: one of your recommendations is to make the job you have the job you want. How is that supposed to work in practice?

We present different strategies for different problems: If you have an argument with your boss or colleagues, you should, for example, develop a certain distance from things - there are psychological tricks for this. If you miss praise and recognition for your work, we will show you exercises with which you can strengthen your self-respect. You can also use certain methods to increase your material satisfaction without constantly having more money on your payroll. We have received particularly enthusiastic feedback so far for our instructions for communicating with annoying fellow human beings. We are following the method of non-violent communication, which has already helped many people to get along better with their colleagues. Above all, the so-called I-Message has proven itself. With her, the focus is not on the you reproach, but on a factual description from your own perspective. The other person then does not feel attacked as quickly and is more willing to make concessions. It works amazingly well.

Allegedly, mental hygiene plays an important role ...

... Mental hygiene means allowing emotions in a controlled manner. We use highly effective procedures from trauma therapy for this. During a bad job day, for example, we feel like anger, sadness or hate. The first step is to take these feelings seriously and recognize them as part of our personality. That sounds a bit strange at first, because we have usually learned that you simply shouldn't have such feelings: Anyone who is angry is angry or even a bad person. In everyday life we ​​confuse accepting with living out our feelings. That I get angry when my colleague is late again is completely normal and a healthy mechanism. But that doesn't mean I have to slap her against the wall. We encourage readers to deal with their feelings without alienating them from being in a bad mood. And that doesn't even mean that you should just shut up and eat everything to yourself. On the contrary: we can express our opinion with non-violent communication - without harming anyone, not even ourselves.

Don't your recommendations inevitably lead to development standstill if we just come to terms with everything?

But on the contrary. We encourage people to new insights - and to change themselves. And isn't it one of the greatest and greatest advances in life to get new insights and to develop yourself further?

As a self-employed person it's easy to talk to. Which of your recommendations do you find particularly difficult yourself?

We have both worked independently and as an employee. That is why we know: Even in the life of the self-employed, all the tormentors from the world of employees reappear, sometimes only in a slightly different form. For example, a self-employed person does not have to contend with his boss denying him recognition. He doesn't even have a boss who could give him this recognition. But because he is only human and needs recognition just like everyone else, he has to get it in a different, often much more laborious way. And customers can easily take on the role of the former boss as a freedom limiter: They give instructions, they criticize, they can also harass them quite a bit. In fact, it is sometimes difficult for us not to dream of the perfect job without all of these problems. But then we pinch ourselves in the arm and say: Welcome to reality!

Thank you for the talk.

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