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Can you ever go back?

Work Therapy

Work TherapyCredit:Illustration: John Shakespeare


You sent this question a few weeks ago and a lot has changed in the world of work (and the world generally) since then.

Jobs will be harder to come by (possibly more difficult than at any time in living memory) over the next few months. I think your question still has relevance, despite (and maybe even because of) these huge shifts. Now more than ever, people will be looking for those rare organisations that have, as you put it, “many vacancies for someone with [their] skillset”. It will be tempting to apply for jobs, even if a significant hurdle, such as the one you’ve described, stands in the way.

Where previously I think your question was a legal one, now I think we’re getting into the area of corporate culture and employee wellbeing.

I asked Dr Linda Dalton, a self-employed psychologist who consults with individuals and organisations, for her advice.

“Every workplace has a culture, a vibe, a code, a way things are done around here. Whether they’re bold or subtle, they tell us what we may do and what we probably shouldn’t,” Dr Dalton says.

Should I apply for a job at my previous battlefield workplace?

Should I apply for a job at my previous battlefield workplace? Credit:Marco Del Grande

“If in the course of our employment we become a victim of some sort of behaviour that the workplace has allowed, but which doesn’t rest well with us as an employee we have the right to object – legally or by leaving, or both.

“Unfortunately, openly stated or otherwise, if you object, you run the risk of being perceived as not fitting in, making trouble or being disloyal to the ‘esprit de corp’.”

Her advice is that if you want to return under these circumstances, you’ll have to brace yourself.

“If after a contest you return to face another day, you are going to have to be strong to ride this out with your former foe and re-establish yourself.

“Some of the opponents of yesterday might be hardened, they know you better, and may now be more covert in their hostility. They may use passive-aggressive techniques, which can be even more difficult to cope with than overt displays.


“This can all result in you feeling contempt, and contempt is soul-destroying. Ask yourself ‘With what I know now, do I really want to return to that battlefield?’”

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