This comes with a health warning.
Here’s the problem.
And it’s a tough one.

A couple of weeks ago, I had dinner with some friends. The evening turned out to be a somewhat embarrassing experience, even by my standards of interacting with all sorts of weird and wonderful people. 

The friends who live together here in France are not married. But they have bought an apartment. XYZ is basically a rich kid who, this is my personal opinion, lacks a sense of direction. ABC is very focused on her career but maintains a healthy work-life balance. They don’t have any children. XYZ has a few hmmm, shall we say, outlandish views about life, the universe and everything. But then, each to their own. Who am I to criticise?

I got an indication that something was amiss when “new developments” were mentioned. It wasn’t said positively. I settled down and waited to see what was going to unfold.

At some point, XYZ launched into the topic by grandly announcing that he had quit his job at his older sister’s company. Instead, he intends to learn Spanish for a future trip to Peru. At the same time, he was looking for a place away from the concrete jungle that dominates where we live (!!) and perhaps set up shop somewhere less developed. Mauritius seemed the current favourite to escape from the rat race. A trip there, planned for March, would be necessary to sort all that out. That was the plan, but no details. They would be dealt with as and when they crop up.

That is the ultra-short and polite version of the story. The coup de grâce came in the form that once XYZ had sorted everything out (and possibly himself, ABC would be welcome to join him. But until then, this was the best offer he could make. Financially there would be no issues, and ABC would still have a roof over her head. Take it or leave it.

I just want to add, that ABC is not all that opposed to leaving the rat race. She does expect security, stability and a decent standard of living, for which she is, of course, prepared to contribute. Especially when at some point, they have children. And if all that can be provided to a level we have here in Europe, then she could work remotely from there. (If her boss agrees, which is not a given.)

None of this, of course, was new to ABC. Nor was it entirely new to me. But things were becoming very concrete, and she was sending negative vibes because, somehow, the rug was being pulled from under her feet. I genuinely felt sorry for her, and I wait in anticipation of how this drama will unfold over the next few months.

Trying to get my head around this conversation, thinking on my feet, I threw two words into the ring, love and respect. And trust.

Yesterday, I received an email from Meta. It didn’t feel right. The email address didn’t look right. I didn’t trust it and consequently deleted it. It was about new terms and conditions in Europe. Since these are shrouded in complex legal English, I shrugged my shoulders. But it says something, if Meta did, in good faith, send me an important email, and I cannot bring myself around to trust it.

There is a lot to unpick here, but it all boils down to relationships. Both professional and private.

 One person’s action, or lack of it, has knock-on effects.

How do we learn to trust people? How do we get people to trust us? And how do we protect ourselves from an increasingly me me me attitude and if you don’t like it, you can lump it? Is communication becoming too aggressive?

How do we deal with the pressure of bad management, of meeting unreasonable goals, the corporate monster eating into our private lives and slowly eroding what is important for mental health and well-being? Are there any tools which we can learn to use to protect ourselves from this? Especially, when leaving isn’t really an option, like XYZ dreams of, but can’t really formulate either.

Or is there a new breed of entrepreneurs on the horizon who may have different values and other ways of working profitably without all the negative stress that goes with it? But, we don’t know about them because, like so many of these things, they are in different countries and not readily accessible to many people. Many people in my circle have just retired. And all are happy that they no longer have to work because it was unsatisfying and without gratitude from colleagues or customers.

This is a huge topic, one that can rumble on over the next few months. And it is a personal one too because it weirdly affects us all, as friends, colleagues, teams, individuals, suppliers, customers, people, happy or unhappy.