Whether we’re in a real recession or not — that is, a recession as economists define it — it’s pretty obvious that everybody thinks we’re in one. And since perception equals reality, we might as well acknowledge the elephant in the parlor.
Yes, we are in a recession. But if you’re looking for a more authoritative voice on the subject, let’s turn to futurist/trendspotter Faith Popcorn:
Out on the street no one is asking if we are in a recession, they’re asking when will it all end and where will we be (source).
Talk of a recession is feeding the fears of a people already living in uncertain times. No doubt, the recession blues have hit some of your co-workers — even if it hasn’t hit you. According to a recent survey by Workplace Options, half of more than 700 adult workers “reported feeling stressed over financial matters; nearly half said the economic uncertainty has negatively affected their work production” (source).
All this bad news can have a paralyzing effect. Whether you’re a manager responsible for keeping staff motivated and projects on track during these tough times, or whether you work alongside others who have been fretting more than usual about their 401k, you’re in a position of influence. In most cases, the co-workers have more influence on their peers than do managers.
How can you be a positive, calming influence during these trying times?
Put wax in your ears. People are more afraid of flying than driving because the press does not report car accidents. I never watch the news. Only listen to news you get in a social setting, the things people talk about. Our brains cannot deal with the overload of information. Having a lot of data is not good for anyone trying to make a decision.
That’s bitter medicine for those of us who work in such a data-driven field as marketing, and who work hard to persuade people to buy our goods. But Taleb is on to something, and his advice — to ignore the voices of gloom and doom all around us — may be just what many of us need right now.
So stop checking your stock portfolio. Tune out the news. Shake off the mental paralysis that comes from too much information. Focus on your work and do your best. Take the focus off of your situation and focus on helping others who are having a tough time. Remember that despite the state of your retirement account, there are many people in this world who are far less fortunate. And remember that in many ways, recession is a state of mind.