Saturday, 7 April 2012

Turning Tables

The idea of this post stems from the song titled 'Turning Tables' by Adele. Yesterday evening I watched her performance held some months ago at the Royal Albert Hall and recorded on BBC iPlayer. 

Why writing about a love song within a blog about employee engagement? 
While Adele must have had a romantic scenario in mind at the time this beautiful song was created I believe that the concept of the song can refer to all kinds of human relationship. In this post I am going to interpret the song with regards to relationships at work. 

First of all, let's listen the song and read the text:

"Close enough to start a war
All that I have is on the floor
God only knows what we're fighting for

I can't keep up with your turning tablesI can't keep up with your turning tablesSo I won't let you close enough to hurt meNo, I won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meSo I won't let you close enough to hurt meNo, I won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meTo turning tablesUnder haunted skies I see you, oohWhere love is lost, your ghost is foundI braved a hundred storms to leave youAs hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down
I can't keep up with your turning tablesUnder your thumb, I can't breathe
So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTurning tables
Next time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorWhen the thunder calls for meNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorStanding on my own two feet
I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."
Under haunted skies I see you, oohWhere love is lost, your ghost is foundI braved a hundred storms to leave youAs hard as you try, no I will never be knocked downI can't keep up with your turning tablesUnder your thumb, I can't breathe
So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTurning tables
Next time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorWhen the thunder calls for meNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorStanding on my own two feet
I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."
I can't keep up with your turning tablesUnder your thumb, I can't breatheSo I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTurning tables
Next time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorWhen the thunder calls for meNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorStanding on my own two feet
I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."
So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTurning tablesNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorWhen the thunder calls for meNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorStanding on my own two feet
I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."
Next time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorWhen the thunder calls for meNext time I'll be braverI'll be my own saviorStanding on my own two feetI won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."
I won't let you close enough to hurt me, noI won't ask you, you to just desert meI can't give you, what you think you give meIt's time to say goodbye to turning tablesTo turning tablesTurning tables, yeahTurning ohh.."


All that I say, you always say more
Under your thumb, I can't breathe
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables

The song is about getting out of a relationship where one constantly puts the other down. Within a rather manipulative relationship one person used the power to take control  as well as a communication style in which things turned always in his own favour. As a consequence the second person had no say, felt not to be listened to, to be right and appreciated. "Close enough to start a war", "All that I say, you always say more".
However, that relationship could not go on that way forever with the 'victim' unhappy, smothered and finally tired of that situation. "Under your thumb, I can't breath", "Time to say goodbye to turning tables". 
The next steps will see the victim making the decision to leave, become braver, stand in her own two feet. "I'll be braver", "I'll be my own savior", "Standing on my own two feet".

Which lessons can be learnt from Adele's song with regards to relationships at work? 

That people do not like feeling to be controlled, manipulated and undervalued. People ask for open dialogue, trust and appreciation. "Employees need to feel good about themselves" (The Happy Manifesto, Stewart H., 2012) otherwise their level of morale and engagement will be undermined. They might be able to stand an autocratic or manipulative approach from their managers for a period of time but that will not last forever. That approach kills human spirit, causes defensiveness and  withdrawal. If the importance of valuing people, trusting them, listening to them and giving them the opportunity to have a say is not recognised workplaces might end up with losing their members and their potential.
Anything that can be done to understand what make people feel positive will help with building trust and bridges. That is the sort of relationship that any workplace should seek for if success and good results want to be achieved. "Managers should retain their power by making the effort of understanding everyone they meet, they should master the ability to achieve a neutral situation" (The Hands-Off Manager, Chandler S. & Black D., 2007).