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Invitations. That’s all we’re talking about. As we go about our daily lives, relating with others, we are – all of us – constantly sending and receiving invitations.

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” ― Jerome K. Jerome
  • A controversial remark is often an invitation to argue,
  • A status update on Facebook that says, “I am very sad today… ” is an invitation to others to write an encouraging comment,
  • Every attention-getting Tweet is an invitation to follow the Tweeter,
  • And every instance of workplace positioning, back-biting and triangulating is an invitation to everyone who is “touched” by it to participate in it at some level

“Getting sucked in” is merely another way of noting that one or more invitations have been sent and received.

However, unlike when a wedding announcement comes, and includes a post-paid RSVP that you can choose to return with an acceptance or a decline, the phrase “getting sucked in” suggests a certain powerlessness as though an invisible force is inexplicably drawing in an unwilling, hapless victim into a black hole of unpleasantness. But do we really get sucked in to arguments? Do we really get sucked in to situations we truly want no part of? Do we really get sucked in to office politics?

Convenient, isn’t it, that when we want to deflect responsibility for making a bad thing worse, we can simply utter the words, “I just got sucked in”? It is a lie, of course. We do not get sucked in to office politics. We choose to eat the fruit being handed to us. We choose to participate.

Sometimes we choose to passively participate when we don’t speak up and say “This isn’t right. This is bringing things down. It is not making matters better.” And sometimes it is less passive.

But at no times is it compulsory. There is no such thing as being sucked in. It is always a choice. Is the pressure to participate sometimes extreme? Yep. In such times, a set of decisions should already be in place.Decide that you will not participate well in advance of the pressure. Decide in advance that you are a builder, not a destroyer. Decide in advance that so much as it is up to you, you will always be a part of the solution and never a part of the problem.

Decide in advance that you will RSVP with a “no thanks” whenever you’re invited to get sucked in to office politics at work.

One Response

  1. Randy Pena
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    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

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