The Mask (Clock-in, Don the Mask, Clock-out, Doff the Mask)
“In wise love each defines the secret self of the other, and refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life; for love also creates the Mask.” – W.B. Yates
This quote by Yates perfectly describes the way a sad, unconfident, shy, unfriendly employee can become a business’ employee of the month. And it starts with your first act as an employee. No it’s not the first clock in on the first day. It’s the job interview.
Most people I know, who are looking for employment and presented with the question “Why do you want to work for my company?”, if they are honest will, answer, “Because I need the work and you are on a list of companies for which I have applied.”
This answer will not get you the job.
Instead, the excellent applicant will say something like this. “I have always wanted to work for your company because of its excellent reputation for customer service and for taking care of its employees. With my skills, friendliness, and excellent customer service attitude, I will be as much a benefit to you as your company will be to me.” By the way, this is what I want to hear when I interview someone and have used this response myself. Feel free to use it whenever you wish. You won’t owe me anything at all…except…
When you get the job, become that person, every minute of everyday. You see, the job interview is your first act as an employee. It is a contract you are making with the employer. In essence an agreement is made. You are promising to be the person you present during the interview everyday for your manager in exchange for the money the company promises to pay you.
Worried about lying on a job interview? Not particularly happy and want to make sure your prospective boss knows it going in. That is admirably honest. But you won’t get the job. Businesses are looking for a particular kind of person; one that is skilled, obviously, but also one that can behave in such a way as to satisfy its customers. If you are not that kind of person it would be stupid for a manager to offer you the job. If you are the rare combination of relaxed, happy, skilled, and friendly person a company needs – I envy you. Your life will be most interesting because you can have any job you wish. But if you are like me, basically a grouch, basically think every thing is bad and it is only going to get worse, basically wish someone would pay me just to stay at home and read and sleep, then we’ve got work to do. Here’s how it works. In order to get a job, think of applying a mask before you go in. Tell yourself that this mask is who you are going to be for this company if they hire you. Show the interviewer what you are capable of, smile, be positive, be encouraging, talk about what makes you tick and how you can help them. It won’t be a lie! Now here’s the kicker. It won’t be a lie, if, and that’s a mighty large I followed by a mighty large F; if you become that person moments before you clock in everyday. If you can sustain it throughout your shift, and don’t turn that person back into your old self until you’ve clocked out, hopped back in your car, and pull out of the lot. In a sense, you are signing a contract at the interview and then fulfilling your end of the bargain every day, and you are getting paid to do it.
If this makes you feel like you are selling out what you really are; if you think it is unfair for a company to try to change who you are as a person, then you would be right. If you don’t think you can do this, be yourself then, in the unemployment line. I think, though, if you approach how you act while at work as an essential task that you must perform to remain in good standing and receive your pay, you can still be who you want to be, you simply put on an emotional uniform right before you clock in.
And, you know what? After a while; after all that smiling and saying hello; after the warm greetings, and thank-you’s, and paychecks, and team work, you are going to find that you are a much happier and more confident person in your personal life too. So not only are you getting paid to perform a task for your company; your company is serving as the ultimate self-help workshop – How to Get Happy in 30 Days and Get Paid to Do It!”
The secret to this trick of “Fake it Till You Make It” is simply a matter of love. You may not particularly like what you do or where you have to do it. But you can love the feeling of making a customer satisfied, of finishing the quota for the week, of taking a broken machine and restoring it to operation. Find something to love, as Mr. Yates said in our leading quote, and it will provide the mask.
Now this grouchy business writer is happy to provide you your helpful list of bullet statements to help you earn Employee of the Month.
• If you aren’t a happy person in your personal life – Fake It Until You Can Make It when you get to work
• Get happy moments before you clock in and sustain it all day until you get in your car and pull out of the parking lot.
• You are not lying to yourself or anyone else if you act the way your company wants you to act while you are on the clock. You are simply performing a task essential to your getting paid.
• If being exactly the way you are right now is so very important to you and you do not want to change, please do not apply for any job. Be an unemployment statistic. I beg you!