When work is a pain

At a colleague’s chiropractic appointment the other day, the chiropractor was explaining to him the importance of dealing with areas of pain quickly before they become chronic. She said the issue with chronic pain is it remaps passages in the brain. When the pain remains for long periods of time, even after the physical problem that caused the pain has been fixed, the person will continue to feel pain because the brain believes the pain is still there.

The same can be seen in organizations. When there are colleagues, departments or projects that cause problems for long periods of time, you become accustomed to seeing them as painful to deal with and you adjust your thoughts, behaviours and actions as a result. Perceiving them as upsetting to deal with becomes a habit. Even after the root of the pain has been fixed, you will tend to continue to treat them as if they are still a sore spot. This leads to frustrations both for you and them.

When you encounter issues within your organization, it is important to deal with them quickly so they don’t become chronic. Once chronic pain sets in, it becomes difficult to fix because now it has become an issue of perception, as much as one of reality, if not more.