Saturday, February 27, 2010

Challenging Workplace Relationships

There are many energy vampires in the workplace. People who run around like Chicken Little proclaiming, “The sky is falling!” Whiners who incessantly complain about how they’ve been wronged by a boss, co-worker, or family member. And yet, they attempt no constructive solutions. Chatterboxes who talk incessantly and say nothing because they are anxious and don’t know constructive ways to bind their anxiety. And then there are bullies. And it makes matters much worse when those bullies are bosses. These "leaders" have managed to bamboozle someone higher up about their qualifications to lead. And where they exercise their “leadership” the most is in creating a highly toxic environment.

Toxic bosses regularly set team members up for failure, blaming them when they can’t accomplish the impossible. They empower people, who are already difficult enough to work with, to become impossible.

And yet who can simply quit their job in this recession?

Many times, people want to help make the situation better, but they don’t know how. This is particularly true when they are not in a position of power on the job. These employees must grapple with questions such as:

• What happens when you have a big blow up with someone you work with, but you have to continue working with them? How do you do that? Is it even possible?

• What about having ongoing tension or conflict with someone you work directly or indirectly with. How do you manage that?

• How do you collaborate if you're being forced into a situation where you have to work with an old nemesis? Do you set aside old grievances and the knowledge you have about this person to start over again for the good of the team? Is that even possible?

It can be precarious to blow the whistle to upper management. But there are times to do so and clearly, there are times not to do this. But how does the average employee know which is which? How can they be constructive without jeopardizing their own job?

Today, I have started a discussion group on LinkedIn to tackle workplace issues such as these called Challenging Workplace Relationships. Please join me in reading the comments and adding your own questions and opinions. Let’s make this a useful discussion group for folks who are struggling to connect with those who have constructive suggestions and solutions.

And please join me on March 8th on “Relationships 101” on when I interview Roger Hall, an executive who literally spent his career traveling the world helping companies to neutralize their toxic, conflict-ridden work environments. We will specifically focus on coping with bullies in the workplace.

You won't want to miss these interesting and essential conversations.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We’re Not Raising Our Children; Society Is

Yesterday on my radio show, “Relationships 101,” I interviewed psychotherapist J.E. Wright, author of The Sexualization of America’s Kids. He specializes in treating children and adolescents who have been victimized by the sexualized messages with which they are bombarded daily. Unfortunately, those messages generally are not from their parents or other responsible adults. Rather, they come from television, their peers wwho are just as confused as they are, the Internet, social media and MTV. And the more parents are unaware of this, the more they are unable to appropriately protect their children from this barrage of distorted messages.

One of the net effects of this situation is that these media have contorted children’s barometer of what is normal. “Dials” on kids’ heads that once told them what was normal and what was not, when it comes to sex and sexuality, have been twisted into a new normal. And that new normal isn’t all that healthy, unless parents intervene and offer alternatives to the messages their kids receive from the culture. Too often, the result is sexting, random oral sex parties, and skiddle parties where kids set out whatever drugs they can get their hands on like adults set out chips and dip.

What is a parent to do? Parents, take heart. There are several things you can do to prevent your kids being confused and programmed by sexually titillating material with which they are inundated. One is to teach your kids about normal sexuality at home by modeling it. For example, it can be helpful to step from the shower to your bedroom naked. This helps children realize the nude body is not so mysterious. Have conversations with children about what they think of a particular commercial and why they think sexy, beautiful women frequently are seen in car commercials. Regularly dialogue with their kids from the time they are young, even though they most likely will be uncomfortable and resistant at first. If so, ask if you can talk with them about it in a few days. This lets them know that you are interested in talking with and listening to them without it disintegrating into a fight.

If that doesn’t work and if a child begins to act out his confusion at school or with other children, it is essential that you seek professional help. Otherwise, this dangerous behavior can become a calcified pattern that your child may well bring into adulthood. Then the consequences of this confusion may be much more significant and dangerous.

Be sure to tune in to “Relationships 101” next Monday, when I will speak with psychotherapist Jeff Ford on “Internet Addiction.”