This episode I welcome back (again!) Angela Wilson to talk about quiet quitting – when it’s good, when it’s toxic, and how to make sure you choose the right path.
You can find the Staffroom Stories podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean App, Amazon Music/Audible, Samsung, iHeart Radio, and Podchaser.
Alternatively, listen directly by clicking the Play button above.
Please do remember to subscribe on your podcast streaming service so you never miss an episode!
Angela Wilson can be found at her website Career Design Studio, as well as LinkedIn, and the other social media platforms.
You can listen to our previous conversations here.
Emily: Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back for our second episode in 2023. I’m sure everybody is well into the swing of things now and today, believe it or not, we are bringing back Angela again. We got to the end of the last episode, which was about job crafting and realized that we hadn’t actually spent any time talking about quiet quitting.
Now, you might remember quiet quitting from pretty much last year. That went really, really big on social media. I believe it started out on TikTok, which. I don’t know about you, but I have not ventured into TikTok yet. But the idea of quiet quitting really blew up in the social media space. And I was talking about it with my husband and he actually had a bit of a laugh because it’s definitely not a new concept.
It’s just like sticking to your role description, basically. But anyway, Angela and I wanted to break down. What quiet quitting actually is. And we also wanted to touch on the fact that there, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. So we break down what is a positive way of quiet quitting, in other words, positive boundary setting.
But we also wanted to discuss a bit about some really negative ways that you can quiet quit and the impact that that can have on your workplace. So without further ado, let’s jump in and welcome back Angela for the fourth time to to the Staffroom Stories podcast.
Hello, Angela. We’re back, uh, straight again, for yet another episode. This will be your fourth episode with us. So we got to the end of the last episode and we sort of realized that we wanted to talk a little bit about the concept of quiet quitting, because that was a really, really big topic last year. People wanting to pare back their job to the bare minimum and not wanting to, you know, put in all the extra hours and whatnot. And we kind of see that as, not really an opposite, but I guess an alternate pathway to job crafting where you maybe don’t wanna take extra responsibilities or you don’t necessarily wanna change what you are doing and then you might instead want to really take a step back for a while. So would you mind giving us just a quick rundown of what job crafting looks like again, and then where people might diverge?
Angela: Yes. And thank you Emily, for having me back again. It’s always good to see where our conversation goes and job crafting is where you get to redesign what you do at work, the three steps that we talked about, and also the pre-step of getting to know yourself,
Emily: Hehe step zero
Angela: step zero of who you are, your perspective about what you want, the support around you, and then getting really creative, which leads into the the three steps.
So changing up your responsibilities, changing up relationships, and also changing up your mindset as well.
Emily: Perfect. And so is there a point along that path where some people pause or stop and go, hang on, this isn’t actually what I want to do. Where does that sort of tend to come?
Angela: When we start doing some self-exploration and we know about what we want in our career, and we get a bit more of that confidence back and we build our self-esteem, so that Prestep is about building yourself. Back up to that point where you might look at your responsibilities. So you might get to the step one and you’ve pulled out your job description and you’ve had a really good look at that.
And then you’ve added all the things on that aren’t in your job description.
Emily: things that you actually do day
Angela: to day.
Yes, the things that you really do, and you might have had a really good look at things and you realize that you might be feeling a bit uneasy about making any changes, that what you really need to do is reestablish some boundaries and maybe take a little bit of a step.
Uh, I, so I’m thinking more like a step back into yourself
Emily: Rather than a step back from the job, so you’re not walking away from the job, you’re walking back to yourself.
Angela: And that’s where I like to see that there’s two ways of looking at quiet, quitting. What’s the right way? Where you’re stepping back into who you are and you are reestablishing your boundaries or when it’s not okay. And I’m thinking of this big cross where no, there, there’s certain things in, you’re stepping over that, the boundary what you are doing of your job.
Emily: So what would it, what are the not okay things to do if you’ve decided that you need to reestablish those boundaries? So, I really like the fact that we’re, we’re talking about that in that context rather than stepping away from your job, you’re, you are reestablishing boundaries that may have, you know, over the years they’ve sort of chipped away or.
Emily: as a beginning teacher, you think that you need to just throw all of yourself into the job and there’s nothing left. So what, what are the not okay things? I’m assuming one of them would be, you know, like not doing your playground duty is obviously not okay. That’s
Emily: can’t just not do that, even if you hate it.
Angela: Yeah. I just keep coming back to, and I’m not sure if anyone saw the TikTok that went viral around quiet, quitting, and the words that that person actually used, that some people took it to what’s not okay, and then they started this, it just would’ve escalated from there. And what the person was just reminding us is not going above and beyond and.
Taking care of yourself. That’s what I get from that. Then we also had the great resignation. So people were just sort of up in the air going, do I quit or do I quiet quit? And really, yeah. It’s about coming back to who you are and, and what those boundaries are and when we think about what’s not okay, that there’s a, a few different things coming to mind that if you feel really resentful.
and you have a grudge. Maybe you applied for a position and you were gonna step up and you didn’t get it. Maybe you asked for something and you didn’t get it, and you are holding a grudge
Emily: and that might’ve come through the job crafting process. Maybe asked if you could do a club and the principal said no, and then you’re like, I’m just not gonna do any club then!
Angela: Yes. And some people might have had something just happen around them, uh, that they’re a bit resentful for.
Why does that person get to do that? You might be putting it externally, whatever resentment you might be feeling or anger, it might not even be about something. It might just be coming through and you are just taking it out on your job and what’s happening around you. So you might be holding a bit of a grudge.
And that’s feeding out. So when we think about the ones that are quiet, quitting, that’s not okay. They might not notice all of this, but you might be noticing that you might, it might be triggering. I know someone who might be going through this. The quiet quitting could also be where you’re slacking off a bit.
and it’s a bit sneaky
and other people might not notice that first time where you might be slacking off a little bit. Maybe as a team you don’t do your part of the share and someone else has to pick it up and that it starts creeping in and it’s turning into being a little bit sneaky cuz it’s a little bit of, uh, they’re doing it on purpose, but maybe not consciously.
Angela: The person knows within themselves that the job’s not right for them, but they’re not doing anything about it, which is not okay for the people around them because they might have no plans to
They’re gonna have to pick up the slack or,
Angela: yes. They’re not, they’re not
Emily: And I guess that could also look like if, you know, if the school’s brought in a new reward system, for example, and there might be someone sitting there saying, well, I’m not gonna do that.
that’s never gonna work for me. I’m not going to do that. And they might consciously be thinking that that’s them quiet quitting because they’re not taking on extra responsibility and all of that.
But really it’s, that’s not the right way to go about it because if that’s a school-wide program that’s coming in, it is part of your job to take that on board. And even if it does take that extra time, you’ve still gotta implement that program, even if you don’t necessarily want to. I sort of, I get the feeling like this negative, quiet quitting is almost like having a little tantrum.
like I’m not gonna do that because I’m
Angela: Yes. And they might not have explored why that, are they really unhappy? Maybe it’s got nothing to do with work, but it’s creeping into work and that they’re taking it out on their nine to five or eight 30 to a four kind of job that. Sometimes people can be, yeah, quite unhappy with maybe there’s something that they don’t like doing about their role and they haven’t spoken up and it’s been dragged on for so many years that they become the unhappiness person at work that can be quite loud and detract from the team.
Emily: And you don’t have to say anything to be loud,
Emily: you sitting there in a dark silence can be the loudest thing in the world if everyone else in the meeting is, you know, pitching in and having a go
Angela: And what I also love about quiet quitting is that yes, some people don’t do it quietly as well, that some people
Emily: Yeah. There’s nothing quiet about it. Yeah.
And they need to know that what they’re doing is not okay for the rest of the team. That there’s a flow and effect that the students that, yeah, the parents, they can tell when there’s that step back from what they’re doing and that it’s not okay that you sometimes don’t realize what it’s actually doing to.
When we think of your reputation, personal branding is a big thing out there that if you are known as the unhappiness person at work or the teacher that always says no to things that that can really, when we look at developing and growing in your role, that could stop you from, that next level of growth for yourself, and that there could be reasons why you might not.
Move into an area that really interested or getting the yes from, from your principal so that that’s the flow on effect of quiet quitting when you’re doing it negatively, that it’s not really helping you, the people around you, and that you’re just gonna keep taking steps back.
Emily: You talked a lot about feeling resentful and how that can be the cause of you acting in certain ways. And it just made me think there was a, a post in a Facebook group a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t remember the exact topic, but someone had come on to say how they were given this responsibility and other people had these responsibilities, but theirs was so much bigger and it wasn’t fair and they didn’t like it And I just thought, like my response to them was, well, have you gone and spoken to the person who gave you the responsibility and asked, why did I get this one? And why is it so much bigger compared to theirs? And I think, if resentment is the cause of your quiet quitting, then perhaps it’s not actually like the problem isn’t the problem you think it is. The problem is a communication issue that you’re not finding out. Maybe that’s communication with yourself too, but you’re not having those conversations with yourself or your team or your leadership team, and those conversations could actually resolve the issue, which could then remove the resentment, which then, you know, has that huge flow on effect, like you said.
Angela: Hmm, and that’s such a great point to make that. Yeah. When we come back to the resentment and where did it come from, so I like those different levels. Before you feel resentment that I’m sure that in a classroom you might know of the like emotion scale and that before you sort of get there, there would’ve been things that could have been done
Emily: Maybe confusion or, or concern and like you need to recognize that at those steps and take action there before it builds to resentment.
Angela: Yes. And being able to, To voice that at the right time and that that can sometimes be uncomfortable for people. And I started joining a lot of, Facebook groups to, to pass on my knowledge and to help people out there. And I actually had to stop and unfollow a lot of them because there was a bit of negativity in some particular ones that it was almost like, oh, this is how I’m feeling.
And then they got back up from everyone and it. It just sort of kept,
Emily: Like validation for the toxic negativity.
Angela: Mm-hmm. So that’s where I often come back to. Yeah. Who are the people that you’re talking to and is it helpful or is it just feeding that negative and who knows what is out there about people actually quite quitting in that negative way?
And if you’re putting it out on social media as well, who knows who’s looking and yeah,
Emily: Yeah, I know my principal is in a few of the groups that I’m in and I’m like, I have to be careful what I say. You know,
Angela: Yes. And that’s when, if you’re doing it in that negative way, you just don’t notice. You don’t notice the flow and effect. And it’s really hard for me to talk about this. I’m not sure about you, but this negative, quiet quitting doesn’t sit well with me.
Uh, how do you feel, uh, just talking about
Emily: Yeah, I don’t, I know it makes me feel uncomfortable because I have definitely been in staff rooms where there have been that type of person and. The, you know, what’s that saying? Misery breed, misery loves company. Like if you are, if you are miserable at work, there’s nothing more gratifying than finding someone else who’s also miserable at work.
And then that has a flow on effect, which can affect, you know, the whole team, the whole school. So maybe let’s move away from the negative now, and let’s move into what is good, quiet quitting. What is constructive and, I guess well done quiet quitting, where it would be an appropriate way to approach this. .
Angela: And you might have gone through the steps of the job crafting and you looked once again at your responsibilities and you’ve gone, okay, I need to reset those boundaries. That that’s leaked a little bit and I’m not feeling
Emily: that’s the key word, isn’t it? Boundaries.
Angela: And re-establishing those like you do at the beginning of every year with your class.
You set those boundaries, you’ve got your expectations and you want to come back to those. And what are my boundaries? What has leaked in and what’s been the flow and effect? And I often talk to people about, who’ve been through burnout, and that they can feel it coming back again. So we wanna make sure that you don’t hit burnout.
I’m about preventative burnout and making sure that you have those boundaries and you stick to them. Checking in, what are my boundaries? If this is my responsibilities and I’m okay to do this, and I’m okay to do that, where are they and what’s not okay? So just coming back to who you are and, and what you want and what you need to reestablish A lot of people are also talking about work life balance and
Emily: And in the teacher sphere, that tends to get scoffed at, like, I don’t have work-life balance. What is that?
Angela: and there are, you can and there are people out there doing it really well. There might be someone that you can see has, has achieved that. So having conversations with people as well about what do you do to, to achieve that? We never hear you in that complaining side where, and feeding into that, what is it that you do?
Because a lot of people that actually have created work-life balance that are happy that, that no, yes, this is what I have to do and, and that I’m okay with that cuz I still have my boundaries intact. That they don’t often tell people what they’re doing because they sometimes get the people that don’t like they’ve created that they can sometimes stamp what they’re doing is really well. So for you, making sure that work doesn’t intrude into those boundaries, and what is work-life balance for you and how does that look like? Have you ever achieved it? Just exploring what does work-life balance mean to you? That Some people say, oh, I don’t look at my emails after a certain time.
That, for me, creates that balance that I have family time, I get my own time. So are you turning your computer off, making sure that on your phone you don’t have emails? Maybe that’s a boundary that has been, those lines have been blurred because of pandemic and flow
Emily: Yeah, I like, I don’t have any of my work stuff on my personal phone because I know if it’s there, I’m gonna look at it. I’m gonna look at all the messages and the emails that come through, and that boundary for me would be non-existent then, because as soon as you look at it, you wanna reply to it, and then you might think, oh, I’ve just gotta jump on my computer for five minutes to do this.
Emily: So I think once you work out what those boundaries are for yourself, you really need to hold yourself accountable and be firm about it.
Angela: You have to because it comes back to self-management. How am I taking care of myself, which puts my priorities first and brings in time management that yes, you have between these hours and these hours are my work hours. And outside of that, this is what I do to bring in balance, and making sure that you stick to them and that you are really strong in yourself, that you’ve got that ability to say no, which is quite hard.
Emily: Yeah, hard
Angela: And it might not be for
Emily: especially like we were talking about in the last episode, like sometimes you feel everybody else on your team is part of this initiative. Therefore you feel like you’re supposed to be part of it too, but it’s okay to not, it’s okay to say no.
Angela: And to know that you value your time and your energy and putting it forth in that way, that I would love to be a part of this and this is how I would like to do it.
And putting forth what is okay for you and making sure that you’re not doing everything. And as teachers, we often don’t put ourselves first and we say yes to everything.
So what things stay within your boundary and how can you voice that as well
Emily: and I guess that comes back to that step zero of the, the job crafting, doesn’t it? Like really looking inwards and seeing what. What am I comfortable with? What do I like, what do I dislike?
And I think with teaching like the biggest thing that comes in with quiet quitting tends to be working outside of school hours or working during the holidays.
And we know that like, it, it’s impossible. You can’t just work nine to three and do everything within that time. So it might look like, you know what, Tuesday evening at home, that’s when I do schoolwork. No other evening in the week, or I might get there earlier in the day or something like that.
Angela: Yeah, and just knowing what works for you is so important. So yeah, that Prestep is also about maybe even compromising, going, okay, if I do this, how can I also pick up and create that balance. When I come back to the quiet quitting and what is okay? So you’re adding to the team, so taking a step back into who you are and what you want and what feels right for you, and you’re still happy in your job, that you still love what you’re doing, that you’re adding to the team, you’re still learning and growing, you are still fulfilling your responsibilities.
You’ve just made those boundaries clearer. For other people to know as well. And when I look at quiet quitting in both aspects, you are, if you have a really good lead of team leaders of leadership, that they will notice if you are quiet, quitting negatively, and also positively they might. Well, what my hope is that they’ll approach you and just go, I’ve noticed this, this good on you for setting your boundaries. And is there anything else that we can do to support you? Or the other one might be talking about your contract and we’ve
Emily: Yeah. Hey, we’ve noticed this. Yeah.
Angela: a bit like when the student that has felt like they’ve done something wrong will go to the principal’s office that that leadership notice. If you are doing it in a good way or a not so good way. That quiet quitting in this good way, if you have the support of your leadership, they will notice that you’re setting your boundaries and you’re sticking to them. And having a conversation is really healthy at this point to, to reestablish those boundaries and that you love your job, that you are, you wanna learn and grow.
And that where the conversation might end up. Okay. How can we bring something, something in for everyone? We love what you’re doing. We can see that. Yeah. Maybe boundaries need to be set again for everyone after what has happened over the last few years can create a ripple effect in a good way.
Emily: Yeah, for sure. And I think that that makes me think of something I guess that I did this year for myself, for in that quiet quitting sense. In my role, I work with, how many, is it? About 20 different teachers, and I sent them all a message and said, “Hi, this is me. This is what we’re doing together. Just letting you know that I don’t look at teams in the evening.
So if you send me a message, I’ll respond to it the next day, but I won’t respond in the evenings. almost every single one of the, the teachers like, gave me a thumbs up for that. And I went, oh. So I’ve set that boundary and they’ve all gone, yeah, okay, that’s fine.
You know? But it wasn’t me coming in saying, don’t bother talking to me in the evening because I will not respond.
So sometimes even just your tone can change what might have been a, a negative quiet quitting into more of a positive boundary setting.
Angela: Yeah. And it keeps coming back to those boundaries and how do you express them in a good way? And it’s clear that, and then that’s where
Angela: make sure that you don’t respond after those hours, cuz as you do it once and that’s it.
Emily: Then they go, well, hang on. So what might be some ways that teachers could positively build in these boundaries and maybe jump on the bandwagon of quite quitting, but in a positive way. Like we sort of talked about, you know, shutting off your emails in the evening. Are there other sort of ideas you can think of that, that people might be interested in?
Angela: Yes. One thing that comes to mind is actually take your lunch break. So make sure you do take your lunch break or if you have a day off that you don’t look at your work stuff.
Yeah. There, there’s so many ways that we can do this and it’s about how can you nurture yourself. How can you make sure those boundaries are really strong? Have you ever set boundaries? Do you know how to set a boundary.
Emily: Mm. I think a lot of beginning teachers probably haven’t.
Angela: No, because you’re just, you’re just learning. So this is where speaking to mentors and other people and, and noticing what people do, do they leave at a, at this time, even if they have things that they have to do and they don’t take that home with them.
Yeah. Once I think in those beginning years, the boundaries are a little bit blurred. So this is a reminder. Yeah. Have you ever set boundaries? What do they look like for you? So exploring what that means, what is work-life balance and what does bring you joy outside of teaching? Some people have passions outside of that, so keep those alive.
I come from a wellness background as well. While I was teaching, I was also wellness coaching and dipping into all that side. So how are you taking care of your mental state, your emotional body? Are you noticing that resentment before it gets to that point? Physically, are you moving your body? Are you eating the things that you should be?
Are you getting the right sleep? And even spiritually, are you connecting in with things that you enjoy outside? Do you walk in nature? Do you have laughs with friends? And just checking in with all of those areas and making sure that you’re taking care of yourself. That’s what this boundary setting’s about.
Emily: Yeah, and I think it’s a good, a good reminder that teaching doesn’t have to be the entirety of your identity. You are a teacher, yes. But that’s not the only thing that you are, maybe you are also a devout Catholic, or you are a gardener, or you are a hiker, or you were a gamer, or you’re a mom.
You know, all of those other. You still have to make room for them. And by setting these boundaries at work, that gives you the space to make sure that those things are still present in your life.
Angela: Yeah. And maybe beginning of year you might have, set yourself, or you might not have done it yet. What, what’s your intention for the year? I often think of a, a theme that sort of creates the year and, and then what do you wanna be doing? For the year. Have you got some short-term goals? Have you got a long-term goal that it can be outside of work?
It’s not all about your career. Career and life really intertwine and how can you bring in things. And I often even think about sometimes, yeah, maybe on your lunch break you might wanna listen to a podcast or something and go have some time to yourself. Some days I needed to sit by myself.
Emily: oh, read a book for pleasure.
Angela: Yes, exactly. You can find quiet pockets. I would even go into the reading corner in my room and sometimes just, yeah, take a moment for myself before I would then go in the staff.
Emily: And I guess that that also comes back to the concept, like we’ve been learning about it in my previous high school and now this primary school that. It doesn’t matter how good of a learner you are, you still need to take breaks in between. And I think that really reflects into all aspects of your life.
Like you can’t run a school day from say, eight 30 till three at full pace all the time. You need to take those little pockets of time to decompress, to de-stress. You know, have a moment to yourself. And if you can weave that into this concept of job crafting and quiet quitting, then that’s tying everything together quite nicely and making sure that your, your mental health is being looked after and you, you are actually stepping away from your job sometimes even when you’re still physically present in the school. But you might, you know, take five minutes to scroll Instagram, because that’s enough of a detachment.
Angela: And it just, for me, it’s about, Learning about who you are and growing in the professional sense and also that personal sense that I felt what was missing, that is coming, that’s all there now is the wellbeing of the teacher and the personal development that you can be very professional.
As we’re sort of setting those boundaries, this is my professional boundaries, but also personal boundaries and what, how do you wanna learn and grow this year? What things excite you to learn professionally, but also personally? So making sure that you’re feeding into both of those and what is important to you this year might be different than last year.
We grow and change and we wanna keep learning and growing. That’s a part not being stagnant and falling into that negative, quiet, quitting. It’s about learning and growing. And who are you and who do you wanna become?
Emily: Those, those boundaries might change year on year two. Like I might say this year, I absolutely will not go onto teams in the evening, but next year I might say, you know what? I’m actually happy to do that this year, but instead I’m not gonna do this bit in the morning, for example. So setting those boundaries, but also reevaluating them may be in different seasons of life.
And you go, you know what? This is okay now. It wasn’t okay before and it may not be okay again in the future, but right now these are my boundaries. And knowing that they may change and they being accepting of that too.
Angela: Yes. I like that, that that full acceptance, that this is who you are now and this is what’s, okay. I like that.
Emily: Yeah. Perfect. All right. We’re almost outta time again,
Gosh, it goes quick. Um, so yeah, is there any other points you wanna add on, on quiet, quitting, or job crafting?
Angela: I think that was a really great way to bring it to that end. Yeah.
Accepting where you are now and what’s okay for you and just reestablishing boundaries. What a great time of year to do that.
Emily: Mm, perfect. All right, so do you wanna give us just that little reminder again of, of where people can find you if they want to continue this conversation further?
Angela: Great. Yes. So you can find me on careerdesignstudio.com au. That’s the website you can book in your free discovery session. If you wanna know more about how to set boundaries or talk about quiet quitting or just. Have a conversation about personal and professional development. You can do that through the discovery session link, and then you can join me on socials and stay connected with this topic and what’s happening out there in careers. And knowing that putting yourself first is okay.
Emily: Even when you’re a teacher and you’re in charge of however many kids, you can still put yourself first, and that is okay. There’s this a quote from A woman I love Dr. Jody Carrington and, and her whole concept is that if the adults aren’t okay, the kids don’t stand a chance. And I think that’s so important to remember that if you’re not taking this time to reassess yourself and your job and making sure that you are actually happy in your job, because you can be, and it’s okay to be.
But if you’re not doing that, then the ripple effects and the flow on effects our job doesn’t just affect you and your teammates. You could be impacting, you know, if you’re a high school teacher, you could be impacting hundreds of kids in a negative way, or you could flip that around and, you know, bring some passion in and, and set those boundaries and your impact could be quite positive.
Angela: Yes. Yeah. And it all comes down to that choice about what you wanna put out into the world. And sometimes just knowing that what you can do can affect so many people in a good way, is a great reminder that yeah, the choice is yours.
Angela: I know which way I’d be. I know what choice I’d be making.
Emily: Yeah, , and again, that might change. You might flip around. Sometimes you might go, you know what, I’m just in a really dark time of my life. I’m just surviving. And that’s fine too. This is no, none of this is about like toxic positivity and you know, you have to love your job and be all into your job.
It’s, it’s not about that at all. It’s, it’s knowing what’s right for you at that point in time and knowing how to, to, enact.
Angela: Yeah, it’s all about those strategies that yes, we go through highs and lows and how do you adapt through those times?
Emily: Perfect. All right, well thank you so much for your time again, another double episode. absolutely wonderful. So much wisdom,
Angela: yeah, we could continue to do this. Um, quite often I
Emily: I know. Maybe we’ll just check in every six months and do a do another double episode and another double episode.