Grrrrr! Gah! Aaarrrggghhhh!
Sometimes it feels like an uphill struggle, bringing data protection good practice to the masses. Sometimes it feels like an vertical climb up a razor-wire-covered fortress turret while hostile archers fire flame-tipped arrows down at you from overhead. I confess that sometimes I am a little short on patience and tolerance (although I try hard not to let it show!) and I do spend quite a lot of my time with gritted teeth and clenched fists. I’m probably not the only one – which is why I wrote this blog post. Despite my naturally sarcastic tone, the sentiment is genuine – and hopefully contains at least one nugget of actual good advice.
Take care of yourselves, don’t be ashamed to reach out for help when things get on top of you, and remember that come the Zombie Apocalypse; your survival will not be based on how successfully you got an organisation to implement data protection!
I present; 10 Anger-Management Tips for DPOs (I’ve said DPOs for brevity; but this applies pretty much to anyone working in any role within privacy and information governance!)
10 Anger management tips for DPOs
- Accept that your colleagues don’t care about your subject as much as you do. If they did; they’d be DPOs too. Not everyone is as enlightened as we higher mortals – feel compassion, not scorn.
- Learn the phrase “perfect is the enemy of good enough”. Recite it 100 times a day. Convince yourself you believe it.
- Publish useful, informative, entertaining, educational content as often and as prominently as you can. Make sure it is all tagged, indexed, searchable and accessible. Include a liberal sprinkling of amusing gifs, memes and cat pictures. You might be the only person who ever reads it so you may as well make it amusing.
- Practise the Serenity Prayer. You’re gonna need it, even if you don’t end up taking to the bottle for comfort.
- Remember, it’s not for you to ‘sign off’ on the organisation doing something unlawful. Make sure authorisation and acceptance of the risk is firmly pinned on someone above your pay grade. Get it in writing. Keep a copy.
- Make friends with your colleagues in health & safety, safeguarding, and infosec. They have the same problems as you do and you can all cry together in the canteen. Solidarity, comrades.
- Maintain your integrity. Admit when you’re wrong, don’t repeat your mistakes, debate in good faith, own, apologise and try to fix things when you screw up. Everyone’s gonna resent you enough already without giving them reasons to disrespect you as well. Plus, it will be less likely you’ll be hunted with pitchforks when you give advice others don’t like.
- Don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Chances are they don’t understand what they’re talking about anyway, so you might as well double-check before it becomes a problem landing on your desk with a post it note saying “this needs fixing urgently”.
- Seek out your fellow DPOs and form a support group. There is much to be said for bonding with like-minded fellow warriors over therapeutic bitching sessions and lawful basis debates in the pub.
- Remind yourself that you’re one of the Good Folk. You care about rights, freedoms and responsibilities. You are the front line of defence against the dark arts of exploitation, discrimination, victimisation and greed. No-one else might recognise it, but the work you do is essential and worthy. *Fist bump*.