Complacency: on task?

Last spring when the nation began to face the encroaching virus, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Complacency, Not Panic, is the Real Danger.” The source of information, a professor of human behavior and management, explained that when a crisis happens humans over-react initially but after a while we begin to think that nothing is going to happen to us so things can go back to normal. We don’t take the risks seriously enough. Complacency. A false sense of security.

The term, complacency, is synonymous with words like smug, pompous, pride, ego, vain, and conceit. You feel so sure of yourself that you don’t see the hazards for what you are doing. You let your guard down, lose focus. You may go on ‘auto-pilot’ because you are so accustomed to what you are doing that it’s automatic. Your attention slips from what you are doing to the disagreement at home before you left the house, the list of things you have to get done when you get home, the run-in with a co-worker or supervisor, looking in on your elderly parents and having to decide at what point you will have to decide what’s in their best interests, how you’re going to get your child through college … the list is endless. The point: bad things happen when you lose focus.

The National Safety Council (NSC) urges everyone to think about complacency and work together as a team to protect each other. The NSC is primarily concerned about the workplace, but the concept may be adapted to any area of your life. Example: Driving to work or back home is such a regular thing. The car seems to know its own way and when you get home you realize that you didn’t really see anything along the route because you were thinking about other things. You had lost your focus. You were distracted.

The NSC lists the signs of complacency:

— Dissatisfaction with your work and lack of motivation.

— Missing steps in work processes.

— Frequent near-misses or incidents.

— Attitude changes.

— Communicating less … or more.

— Late to work or meetings.

For your safety and the safety of the people around you, consider the ways in which you can fix the problem …

— Consciously focus on your tasks.

— Be aware of distractions and shut them down promptly.

— Change your routine to a new and improved version.

— Adjust your schedule to keep focus and avoid ‘auto-pilot’ mode.

— Teamwork in the workplace to keep each other safe.

“Don’t ignore the signs of complacency in yourself,” advises the NSC, “and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns when you see them in your fellow employees. Everyone is susceptible to these risks, and sometimes we need an outside perspective to notice how our behaviors have changed.”


Family Recovery Center doesn’t help only families with addiction issues. FRC can help families find ways to navigate through these challenging times. For more information about how FRC can assist you with the anxiety and stress of Covid-19, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.


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