NOTE: The May blog posts will not be updated this month, but check back soon for new updates.

  • Are You Part of The Brew Crew

    It’s a rare workplace environment that hasn’t experienced the corrosive effects of chronic negativity. Like a bad mood, negative behavior can spread among departments, even wide spread enough to infect company divisions or regions. It can be practiced by one individual or groups of individuals wanting to belong to something bigger than themselves. In the search for professional kinship, groups will take issues and brew them until they are as scorched as bad coffee. Consequently, we coined a term for them, the Brew Crew. Unfortunately, the something ‘bigger’ becomes the shame & blame game or simply gossip-mongering honoring no one. Persistent negativity can be the result of poor management, inadequate shift staffing, lack of employee training, individual health problems, or symptoms of the bully & manipulator personality types.

    Let’s look at two sources of employee negativity and how they come about in work organizations. The first is socio-situational negativity and is caused by personal stressors. These employees find themselves caught in stressful circumstances such as, pending divorces, child or elder care demands, financial scarcity; and, possibly the greater demands of job promotion. The second is iatro-genic negativity. Employees in this second category demonstrate a coping response to frustration, helplessness, and the lack of compensation for their efforts. This poor adaptive response is a direct result of oppressive, unrealistic working demands, and blame & punishment based management methods.

    If you think you might be becoming part of a brew crew, ask yourself:

    • Are you taking the conversational ‘bait’ to become involved in malicious gossip such as, ‘Have you heard that….’?
    • Are you becoming defensive over public attacks on your job performance or individual character? And, how can you stop these attacks without causing animosity, a private conversation with a colleague? Remember that many bullies enjoy having an audience.
    • If your company has downsized, how can you engage management to discuss job security, career pathing, and the rebuilding of trust with the remaining employees?
    • How can you set the expectations with your staff or colleagues that negativity is inconsistent with the values of the company? How can you challenge their negative behavior without being confrontational and overbearing?
    • What self-governing departmental responses can you put in place to counter negative responses such as, “I know you may need to talk about this event; but, we need to discuss the situation in a positive and problem solving context.”
    • If a colleague is the crusader with unrealistic solutions, how can you help them look at the disruptiveness of their behavior without just moving the blame? What conversation can you have with them to promote healthy problem solving, not just continuing the complaining?
    • If employee recognition needs a boost, what recognition system can you and management create that rewards the outcomes that your people create for your business
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  • Are You a Pack Rat?

    Do you look around your office or garage and see stacks of out-of-date magazines, unread books, boxes of history files, or just plain clutter? Is your professional excellence suffering because you can’t find the right data or documentation amid the office clutter?

    ‘Pack-ratting’ or hoarding is commonly seen in Elders that have survived the Great Depression, the Holocaust, prisoners of war, country wide famines, or other events where food or other basic survival elements were rationed or unable to be obtained. This response has created what we call the ‘scarcity mentality’. An example of the scarcity mentality is an Elder we know today keeps the pantry and freezer stocked so that he and his grandchildren will NEVER be hungry again.

    Hoarding can also be demonstrated by anyone that has collected an excessive number of newspapers, magazines, old clothes, egg cartons, even the acquisition of cats and dogs. Frequently, we place a sentimental value on certain items as a remembrance of past ‘hey-days’, memories of loved ones that have passed away, a source of security even, a substitution for love. Often with an offer of assistance, these same ‘pack-ratters’ will welcome company to weed through the disproportionate heaps and remove the clutter.

    If you think you may have become a ‘packrat’, ask yourself:

    • Are there other activities that you are not able to do by having all of the current clutter in place, such as, you can’t go camping because your old high school text books are stacked on top of the camper?
    • Are there stories or personal attachments to the articles in the clutter? How can you honor your personal history with these items and reduce them to a manageable few?
    • What are the feelings you associate with any of the stacks of possessions? Do you have the feeling of security with this amount of stuff around all the time?
    • Are you waiting on someone else to make decisions regarding the stacks of articles and they may have just forgotten about them? What requests do you need to make so that you regain some organization in your life?
    • How can you devise a workable timeline to remove, store, give to relatives, donate to worldwide missions, or even sell the articles? What outside resources will you need to contact for help?
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  • Is Going Worse than Staying?

    How often have we heard ourselves, our colleagues or family state that they want a specific goal but never make that desire a reality? Are these just ‘pipe dreams’ or outcomes that would truly add value to our lives? And, why do we seem to be frozen in one place, not really advancing either in our professions, our personal desires, or even on a spiritual level? Is it not enough motivation, lack of resources, or is the journey of going worse than the pain of languishing in the current place?

    Sometimes we see folks stuck in the present based on past events, unresolved grief, fear of change, or cultural traditions. And even though we know that we can’t undo history, you see people locked in time saying, “if that had happened differently, I would have been able to do such and such”. Many people make their evaluation of what is possible or not without paying significant attention to the reasons they stay in unrewarding jobs, thankless relationships, or even restrictive social communities. Regardless of the circumstances, human society has the capacity to change, effect change, and transcend to the next chapters of life’s achievement.

    If you’re thinking you need to transcend to the next chapter in your life, try asking yourself:

    • At what point did your life become a declaration of the “non-congruent self”? What factors keep you in the current situation, finances, dependents, environment, or health issues? Is this decision solely your own or are others influencing this decision? What are your feelings with the current situation resignation, sadness, resentful, heart-break, despair, anxiety, etc.?
    • If you are considering a career or professional change, what investments do you need to make in your skills or working lifestyle? Would this change require relocation, downsizing for a while, or the separation of close friends for a period of time?
    • Do you suffer guilt over ‘breaking out’ of the family or social practices in pursuing your life’s direction? What would be the benefits and consequences of pursuing your direction when it breaks out of the family’s’ or the generally accepted social practices? What invisible rules will you be violating?
    • What if your future contributions to the world and yourself are dependent on an appreciation of yourself? If not, how would appreciation for self affect your decisions over changing your future?
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  • Handling Anger on Social Media

    Isn’t it curious that public feuding has become acceptable such as, the recent arguments between Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Godwin over comments made about the Holocaust. Just when you thought ‘road rage’ was the angry trend to be avoided; now angry responses on numerous TV and social media sites are at an all-time high. Researchers of China’s Beijing University have recently analyzed the trajectory of emotions across a social-media site, Weibo, (a Twitter-like service); and, came up with rather surprising results in the process. It revealed that anger spreads like wildfire across social media more than joy or success.

    It’s evident that some social issues cause outrage such as, homelessness of veterans or domestic violence. Most of us agree we want justice and a solution to these problems. Consequently, many make their views known by public announcement on any social media site that think will generate action. Amazing power can be had by stating outrage or calling someone out publicly on one of these social sites.

    Let’s examine what the reader(s) of some innocent posts could have interpreted:

    • The reader(s) may not have all the facts on the subject and are not aware of the actual logical components. Hence, they respond by returning an attack, not constructive feedback.
    • The reader(s) may feel that an immense injustice is being demonstrated, consequently, they respond with indignation or fury. The feeling of powerlessness can bring on an attack of anger and the reader will vent on social media thinking that broadcasting bad press will obtain justice. Remember, the more justified you feel over an injustice, the angrier you get.
    • The reader(s) may have a cultural or faith based distinction that triggers them to a rage response. Or the reader may just feel the need to be righteous about posting their views.
    • The reader(s) may have old wounds from past events or upbringing and are still living this story. Your post can activate them to play out what happened in the past with, unfortunately, the same result they had then.
    • The reader(s) may not have their expectations fulfilled from membership in a specific group. Rather than address the group owner alone on the direction and content of public discussions, they lash out at anyone that posts anything they view as ‘unintelligent and uninformed’.

    What do you do when you receive angry responses on social media posts?

    If you think there have not been enough facts made known about the subject, you can post where fuller information can be found. Then, leave the readers to investigate it for themselves. It is not your job to convince the readers that you are right so that you ‘win’.

    • Be open enough to let others challenge your views. It is not uncommon for larger organizational or global problems to have more than one solution. Those who can’t adapt end up useless and bitter.
    • Be tolerant enough to examine another perspective. After unbiased reflection, you may change your viewpoint about the response you received in the original discussion.
    • Expect opposing responses. Don’t assume opposition is personally directed at you. You may open up communications now among members that may bring the group consciousness to a higher level.
    • Remember that your peers, and possibly your manager, will see your responses to others on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other sites. How you react to any readers’ post will reflect on your integrity, composure, and self-control. Ask yourself how you want your public personae to be viewed.
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  • Redefining Work Relationships

    Successful work relationships are the keystones for the company’s bottom line efficiency and personal fulfillment in your career. Work relationships can strengthen your promotion ability, subsequently amplifying your salary, achieving projects on time; and even, have an impact on your individual health state. Our working lives occupy one-half to, in some industries, three quarters of our lives. We all hope that our work relationships can be a close collaborative association with mutual benefits for all involved. It’s not uncommon that workplace relationships have to be redefined for the renewal of individual commitments, rules of engagement; and social contract interaction. Why does this happen?

    A factor can be corporate mergers. These fusions are not always as smooth as the management would like. Time and again, merging companies endure a severe employee exodus due to the mis-understanding of why the merger is taking place, core values clashes, veteran employees not feeling appreciated for past productivity, or the mix of cultural multiplicity. Another large scale facet is downsizing. With this type of sweeping change, the consequences can be hostile relations between the surviving work force; increased staff turnover; decreased solidarity between the newly formed teams; and increased finger pointing-otherwise known as the ‘blame game’. Another cause can be individual promotions. Someone who used to be part of a dynamic team can be elevated to a leadership role. This individual now has many in a direct reporting hierarchy, strict budgets to comply with, even the possibility of hiring freezes in place. Those they used to work with as peers are now uncomfortable in how to participate with and communicate beyond the new rank. This opens the challenges of redefining the work relationship. And last, there are always personal experiences that can change an individual’s world view such as, selling a long loved home, children leaving for college, or a chronic illness.

    It’s a natural occurrence that when any of these situations exist, relationships may need a restructuring of how we engage and converse with each other. So how do you start those remodeling conversations that still sustain free and open communication? Think about these basics prior to scheduling your discussion:

    • Be mindful of how reality is now. Recognize the energies you are investing into resentment, anger, or resignation over the current circumstances. If you can redirect the same level of energy into acceptance of actualities now, you can transform how you will respond to the next dialogues between you and the other persons in the conversation. Do not forget to include how much you ‘care’ about the next chapters of the future you are collectively forging.
    • Confirm new boundaries if personal experiences have promoted internal change for you. You could open with, “Since I have survived cancer, the car accident, or any traumatic experience, I want to explain what has changed for me in our engagement together”. You don’t have to justify yourself or tell all the details, just those that have influenced your view of the world from now on.
    • Validate others with their significance. Your conversation could start with, “With the successes we have celebrated together, or since you have helped me achieve that product launch, this has changed how I would like our future collaboration to be.” Whatever you express, it will be something to bear out their importance, talent, or skill in the accomplishment in benefits for the whole. In the end, you will be defining what greatness will be for you and them.
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