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Leaders fail for a variety of reasons. It might be due to an inability to adapt to change or think strategically. Perhaps they struggle to develop good working relationships with key stakeholders or build and maintain a team. What we have come to know is that emotional intelligence, or EI, is the No. 1 predictor of professional and personal excellence and it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all job types. Additionally, 90 percent of top performers in organizations have higher levels of EI, making it a critical factor for leadership success.
Integration of this critical leadership competency is quickly becoming a requirement for leaders. A briskly changing business environment necessitates skills in self-awareness, trust building, conflict management, listening and empathy. These abilities support leaders to effectively manage the demands of a transforming work environment. Progressive organizations need leaders with high EI to move their teams into the future.
All of this is easier said than done. Developing our EI takes time and deep introspection. It requires us to look inward at the emotions we are projecting and those that are stifling in the workplace, as well as work to understand the emotions of others. Here are the four quadrants of EI and how to develop them.
Become more self-aware.
The ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen influences how you respond to specific situations and certain people. Strong self-awareness ensures we have a realistic picture of who we are and, more important, how we “show up” with others. Recognizing our emotional triggers and practicing mindfulness can aid in this process.
An important aspect of self-awareness is recognizing our personal values. We filter our experiences through the lens of our values. This results in a perception of the world that is painted more by our own story than by actual reality. The more we can change our own story about various things that happen to us, the more we reclaim our personal power. This allows us to have more freedom in our relationships with ourselves and others because we are not triggered by circumstances in the same way we might have been.
Manage your own emotions, stress and anxiety.
Self-management refers to managing one’s internal state, impulses and resources. It involves emotional self-control and your ability to use awareness of your emotions to direct your behavior. Self-regulation reflects how well you control and manage your emotional reactions to all situations and people, while keeping disruptive emotions in check.
Consequential thinking can help in this process: imagining the upsides and downsides of our actions and then determining which action will best support our desired outcome. Take time to pause during presentations and casual conversations to use this thinking strategy while allowing those you are conversing with time to process the information, as well.
Recognize the emotions of others and develop empathy.
Empathy is what allows us to pick up on the emotional climate in social situations and to be able to understand what others are thinking and feeling. We can develop this skill through active listening. The ability to focus completely on what is being said both verbally and nonverbally allows us to create connections with others.
We all want to be heard. The stronger our active listening skills, the easier it is to feel empathy for others and connect with them based on the emotions they are sharing with us. Another way to sharpen this skill is by asking powerful questions. This creates space for empathy by encouraging deeper conversations at work and in our personal lives.
Develop better social skills, including trust and rapport with others.
Building trust and rapport with others over time helps when a conflict does arise. Once we establish trust with the people around us, we start to see different outcomes in our interactions. Our conversations change, and our intent shifts.
To build trust with your team, be respectful, listen by trying to understand their perspective and admit when you’ve made a mistake. These are all simple but incredibly important building blocks of trust.
With leadership comes unavoidable conflicts, as our daily work brings together diverse perspectives, power struggles, competitive spirits, performance discrepancies and so on. Much of this turmoil provides a canvas for greatness; yet, navigating conflict is challenging for most. As a leader, the key to solving conflicts is to embrace them.
We hone our leadership abilities by recognizing conflicts when they arise, understanding the nature of the conflict, and bringing about a swift and just resolution. This reaction builds trust and rapport with your team and can be the difference between mediocre and top-tier performance.
Since we know EI is the foundation of success and performance, building these skills is a game-changer in leadership and life. Developing these four EI skills can help leaders unlock the potential for swift conflict management, connectivity and trust among teams and overall understanding in the workplace.
This is really good. Describes the trust problem.
When the pandemic triggered mass workplace closures last spring, many companies were unprepared for what turned into an open-ended remote-work arrangement. For some, the extraordinary situation initially prompted a heightened sense of goodwill as workers juggled the demands of family and fine-tuned home-office setups. Yet as we now pass the one-year mark of virtual work, the shaky foundation of many company cultures is cracking to reveal a lack of trust among remote managers and employees.
Under better circumstances, trust begets trust; at the moment, experts are finding that the reverse is true. Without in-person interactions to bolster our professional relationships, there’s more room to make negative – often unfounded – assumptions about our colleagues’ behaviours. And, many supervisors haven’t been trained to manage a team remotely, causing them to fall into the trap of over-monitoring employees, which tends to backfire. All these factors are creating a cycle of virtual workplace distrust that’s exacerbated by pandemic fatigue and the struggle to sustain our mental health amid an extended period of uncertainty.
The dearth of trust isn’t something that will be magically fixed once the pandemic subsides, especially as businesses are considering adopting new models, from hybrid systems to a different kind of work week. The consequences of a culture of distrust are significant – including diminished productivity, innovation and motivation. But there are steps we can take to effectively build and repair trust, even from afar.
Distance breeds distrust
Before the pandemic, the seeds of trust were often planted at work without us even realising it – a greeting in the elevator, post-meeting small talk, complimenting a colleague’s haircut.
“Trust is built by spending time together, not necessarily around work-related tasks,” says Scott Schieman, chair of the department of sociology at the University of Toronto’s St George campus. “We form and sustain social bonds this way, expressing verbal and nonverbal communication in ways that convey understanding, empathy and shared concern. There’s no way endless Zoom calls can replace the depth and quality of in-person human interaction.”
Although those interactions in passing don’t seem like much, they actually help to build trust among colleagues – and we’re sorely missing them now (Credit: Alamy)
Not only is it harder to build strong connections through video and audio calls, email and instant messages, but misunderstandings are likelier to arise from these mediums due to their limitations. “You might see a supervisor’s or team member’s facial expression on a Zoom meeting and misinterpret or appraise it in a negative way,” says Schieman. “You might be completely misreading it – maybe their kid was in the background doing something that annoyed them. In a physical shared space, you could better read those cues and clear them up.”
When we don’t have all the context about a colleague’s behaviour, we’re prone to credit their actions or words to their character, rather than a situation beyond their control – a well-established phenomenon in social psychology known as fundamental attribution error, which has taken on new weight in an era of virtual interactions.
“If you’re late for a meeting while working from home, it’s because your broadband wasn’t working, but if anyone else misses a meeting, you attribute it to their character,” says Heidi K Gardner, faculty chair of Harvard Law School’s Accelerated Leadership Program and author of Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos. Gardner, who has studied trust attitudes among knowledge workers, adds: “[You think it must be] because that co-worker is lazy, doesn’t care about the work or isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. When we’re working separately, you can only see your own circumstances and excuse your behaviours but impugn others’ character when something goes wrong for them.”
If you’re late for a meeting while working from home, it’s because your broadband wasn’t working, but if anyone else misses a meeting, you attribute it to their character – Heidi K Gardner
When a manager makes a negative assumption about an employee’s behaviour and decides to supervise them more closely as a result, it can cause psychological distress, which in turn can harm performance. “Monitoring is interpreted by employees as not being trusted to do their work, impinging on their sense of control over their work and their trust of their manager and organisation as a whole,” says Caroline Knight, research fellow at Curtin University’s Future of Work Institute in Perth, Australia, who is leading an ongoing study on the impact of Covid-19 on work, wellbeing and performance.
“When leaders start to monitor, employees are less motivated and feel less responsible for their work,” adds Anita Keller, assistant professor of behavioural and social sciences at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who is collaborating with Knight on the study. The increased autonomy that comes with working remotely can be a boon to productivity and morale, she explains, but only if supervisors trust their team to perform, “otherwise there are limited or no benefits for employees and organisations”.
Building relationships remotely
In order to shore up trust, it’s helpful to realise that trust building isn’t a one-size-fits-all process.
Gardner explains that there are two main types of trust: competence trust, which relates to pure professional ability; and interpersonal trust, which is based on human connection and integrity. “If you deliver quality work on time but are a jerk, that undermines personal trust,” says Gardner. “People need to send strong, clear, reliable signals of trustworthiness in both these dimensions.”
There are also two different types of trust personalities: automatic trusters, who give the benefit of the doubt until trust is broken; and evidence-based trusters, who tend not to trust until they’ve been given adequate reason to do so. “If you don’t know which type a co-worker is, the safer bet is to assume they’re evidence-based,” suggests Gardner. Providing more communication and information than necessary to a new colleague will cover your bases until trust is established.
If you don’t know otherwise, assume your colleagues are ‘evidence-based trusters’, and go out of your way to give them a reason to trust you (Credit: Alamy)
While it helps to raise awareness of how trust works, companies must also play their part, says Bhushan Sethi, a principal and joint global leader in PwC’s New York-based People & Organisation practice, where he works with employees across 150 countries to shape culture-led change. “To build real trust, firms will need to upskill in inclusive leadership, especially in a remote environment, where people are likely to feel more disconnected,” says Sethi. “Leaders need to make people feel included, make sure their ideas are heard and empathise when they’re stressed, anxious or burned out.”
Likewise, Knight and Keller emphasise the importance of empathy in promoting trust. Their research showed that managers who show employees support and appreciation will foster more trust, and be better trusted in return. In service of its mission to enhance the experience and value of work, The Future of Work Institute has created free downloadable resources – from time management tips to concrete communication strategies – to support managers and workers in a flexible work world.
But Knight says companies should also create their own resources. “Organisations could invest in training that focuses on education around the benefits of remote working, how to devolve autonomy of workers and how to manage by results,” she says. “This means not focusing on the number of working hours or whether they respond to messages instantly, but whether the broader goals of the job are being met.”
‘I trust you’
All of these tactics can help workers make strides to rebuild a culture of trust – but the reality is that it’s inevitable that trust will still occasionally be broken. So, if you’ve missed a deadline or otherwise fallen short, don’t gloss over it – you have to own up to it before you can rebuild trust. “It’s essential to admit your mistakes, as that makes you vulnerable,” says Gardner. “When you do that, you’re implicitly saying, ‘I trust you not to take advantage of me’.”
There are also two different types of trust personalities: automatic trusters and evidence-based trusters
When trust is breached from the top down, as when supervisors monitor employees’ every move, workers can try stepping up communication to assuage anxiety. “Proactively inform your supervisor how things are going, what you have accomplished and where things are difficult,” says Keller. “It’s also worth negotiating what performance is expected and how that is assessed.”
Still feeling stifled? Keller suggests explaining to your boss that although you’re aware that some monitoring is important, doing so excessively is counterproductive to your morale and performance. As a last resort, consulting a third-party supervisor or HR representative may help. Regardless of the cause, any time trust is diminished, the goal is to reset the dynamic and cultivate good faith moving forward.
Although trust-building may seem like a soft skill in comparison to more technical or analytical ones, it’s a vital piece of a healthy work culture – and one that’s taken a big hit during the pandemic. Ultimately, our ability to prioritise and develop trust with colleagues will have a direct and immediate impact on the quality of our work – and the long-term outlook of our careers.
Feeling burned out at work? Find out what you can do when your job affects your health.
Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
“Burnout” isn’t a medical diagnosis. Some experts think that other conditions, such as depression, are behind burnout. Some research suggests that many people who experience symptoms of job burnout don’t believe their jobs are the main cause. Whatever the cause, job burnout can affect your physical and mental health. Consider how to know if you’ve got job burnout and what you can do about it.
Job burnout symptoms
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing job burnout. Consider talking to a doctor or a mental health provider because these symptoms can also be related to health conditions, such as depression.
Possible causes of job burnout
Job burnout can result from various factors, including:
- Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
- Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, or you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.
- Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
- Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.
- Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.
Job burnout risk factors
You might be more likely to experience job burnout if:
- You identify so strongly with work that you lack balance between your work life and your personal life
- You have a high workload, including overtime work
- You try to be everything to everyone
- You work in a helping profession, such as health care
- You feel you have little or no control over your work
- Your job is monotonous
Consequences of job burnout
Ignored or unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences, including:
- Excessive stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
Handling job burnout
Try to take action. To get started:
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
- Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.
- Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.
- Get some sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.
Keep an open mind as you consider the options. Try not to let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health.
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We all negotiate, whether with our political opponents, friends, or family.
Posted Dec 15, 2020
Negotiation is a big part of life.
For instance, you negotiate with your boss for a higher salary or more fair distribution of the workload, with a car dealer or home seller for a better price, and—the most difficult of all—with your little one about eating broccoli.
Negotiations occur between businesses and political parties too, but, needless to say, these groups are represented by individuals. For example, the “Iran Nuclear Deal” resulted from a series of intense negotiations between representatives of Iran, the US, the UK, Russia, Germany, France, and China.
Similarly, Trump’s economic sanctions on Iran and his strategy of maximum pressure—which may have included the killing of Major Suleimani and potential cooperation with Israel in the killing of nuclear scientist Fakhrizadeh in November—was supposedly intended to force Iran’s representatives to come to the negotiating table.
In early 2020, when tensions between Iran and the US were running high, Trump tweeted, “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” Is that true? Is it possible to win every negotiation? In today’s post, I look at the psychology of negotiation.
What is negotiation?
What does negotiation mean? Negotiation refers to discussions between parties who have opposing (but also some shared) preferences and interests, for the goal of reaching an agreement on important issues. Negotiation is, therefore, a “joint decision making process involving interactive communication” (p. 1080).1
To negotiate is to choose the path of communication (not violence or war) to reach an agreement and get what you want.
- Competition or domination of the other side (I win, you lose).
- Avoidance (you and I both lose).
- Accommodating or obliging the other (I lose, you win).
- Collaboration or integration (you win and I win).
- Compromise (we both win some and lose some).
We are more likely to choose accommodation and collaboration when we value a relationship highly; we choose avoidance and competition when we do not.
When a situation has an “integrative potential,” meaning it has the potential for win-win, both sides are more likely to work together and engage in problem-solving. Compared to compromise, win-win agreements are typically “longer lasting and more beneficial for the relationship between the parties” (p. 536).3
The success of negotiations depends on numerous factors: the interests of the parties, legitimacy and fairness of the proposal, presence and promotion of trust-building relationships, the existence of other options that satisfy both parties’ interests, good alternatives (if negotiations fall through), the strength of each side’s commitment to the agreement, and the nature of the communication itself—whether one chooses to “threaten or acquiesce, brainstorm jointly or make firm demands, make silent assumptions about interests or ask questions to probe them more deeply.”
How to negotiate?
So, how can we increase the likelihood that we negotiate successfully?
Research on the psychology of negotiation has uncovered some important principles. According to Fisher and Ury, a successful negotiation occurs when we focus on interests, problems, produce many options, and utilize objective criteria:
1. Concentrate on interests, not positions: Positional bargaining is inefficient, contributes to each side becoming overly committed to their initial position, and often results in anger and resentment. The real issues are often related not to positions but to the conflicts “between each side’s needs, desires, concerns, and fears” (p. 40).4 For instance, a complex conflict between you and a real estate developer next door might really be about your need for quiet and the developer’s need for money.
2. Concentrate on the problem, not on people: When you focus on finding a solution to the problem, not defeating your opponent, egos are less likely to get in the way. But in situations where you do need to focus on people, do try to appreciate and value their input, see them as partners (not opponents), respect their autonomy and status, and be mindful of the roles they (and you) are playing in the negotiations.5
3. Explore a variety of options: Since making decisions in the presence of your opponent or searching for only one (perfect) solution hampers creativity, set aside some time to come up with a variety of mutually beneficial solutions before working on reaching an agreement.4
4. Use objective criteria: To prevent a negotiator from getting advantageous results by simply being very stubborn, make sure the final agreement reflects an objective standard that does not depend only on the will of the parties.4
As can be seen, the above method, called principled negotiation, is not particularly concerned with positional bargaining (e.g., hard bargaining and soft bargaining) or with the nature of the relationship between negotiators (e.g., trust vs. distrust, friendship vs. hostility). Instead, principled negotiation encourages the participants to see themselves as collaborating problem-solvers who are trying to pick solutions from many mutually beneficial options.
In Trump: The Art of the Deal—his second favorite book, after the Bible—Trump claims he loves to make deals and is very good at it. But Trump appears to be a win-lose negotiator, and so far his aggressive tactics have failed to bring Iran to the negotiating table and may have made things worse. Biden may have better chances.
Regardless, when the stakes have been high (e.g., the Cuban Missile Crisis), negotiating successfully has made a world of difference. As Fredrik Stanton writes, “Every successful negotiation is a…confirmation that conflict is not an inevitable outcome of a clash of interests.”6
The same is true in non-political negotiations. You do not need to ignore your interests in order to avoid a high-conflict relationship. You simply need to learn how to negotiate successfully and put your knowledge into practice.
The shift to remote work has given many of us a new perspective on how we do our jobs. Without the context of a shared workspace or the rhythm of a typical office day, our own personalities are having far more of a say in our performance.
It follows, then, that the best way to maximize our output in a WFH environment is to better know our personalities—and those of our dispersed colleagues.
An efficient (and intriguing) way to manage this personality wrangling is via the tried-and-tested Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Generally regarded as one of the most accurate personality tests out there, the MBTI is widely applied within the business world, with 89 of the Fortune 100 companies utilizing it.
“The MBTI is deceptively simple, but it’s also an extremely useful way to see how team members are inherently different, and how you can work together more successfully,” says occupational psychologist John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company. “It’s a means to boost productivity in people, increasing their engagement and making them generally happier in their work.”
In other words, the MBTI might just be the key to turning your remote team into a smooth autonomous unit.
The 16 personality types and their traits
Based on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types, the MBTI is a self-reported personality survey that has been around in various shapes and forms since the 1940s. Respondents answer a series of simple questions about their feelings and preferences, eventually aligning with one of 16 personality types.
Each of these types is identified by four letters, starting with an E or an I (for extrovert/introvert) followed by S or N (sensibility/intuition), T or F (thinking/feeling), and finally a J or a P (judgment/perception). Each type also has a descriptor, e.g., “the analyst,” to further characterize the personality type in action.
Once you know your team members’ types, the thinking goes, you can better assign them to projects which match their preferences, proficiency, and proclivities. You can also communicate more effectively if you have a better idea of how people process information.
To get started, take the official Myers-Briggs test (or try a similar free questionnaire, recommended by psychologists here), then check out our expert guidance below on how to work with each personality type.
1. ISTJ: responsible realists
Who they are: dutiful doers who appreciate clarity, love routines, and believe in values like honor, hard work, and social responsibility. They’re quiet, reserved, and reliable. The Queen of England is an archetypal ISTJ.
How to work with them: “This personality type is incredibly well organized, which is a major asset in a remote working environment,” says psychologist and business coach Rosie Peacock, CEO of Conscious Enterprise. “They don’t need much management or checking up on, just email them a to-do list at the start of the week, and you can trust them to quietly get on with it. They’d also be the perfect type to organize and streamline any shared space online, from Dropbox to Google Docs.”
2. INFJ: insightful visionaries
Who they are: principled creatives who are quietly forceful but also intuitive about people and concerned about their colleagues’ feelings. They tend to be deep thinkers with bags of ideas.
How to work with them: “The entire hiring process is considerably more difficult in a remote world, but Advocates can be an ace up your sleeve,” says Peacock. “They tend to be excellent judges of character, so it would be a major asset to have them sit in on virtual interviews. Just don’t put them centerstage in any Zoom meetings if you can avoid it:They don’t thrive on attention, and work far better behind the scenes.”
3. INTJ: conceptual planners
Who they are: perfectionist innovators who are comfortable alone and thrive in a remote work environment. People with this personality type are natural problem solvers who are great at taking an idea and turning it into a plan of action. They’re a dual threat: skilled at both intuitive and practical thinking.
How to work with them: “This group is usually more comfortable communicating by text, so they’ll often need to be nudged into picking up the phone or jumping on a Zoom call when it’s more beneficial,” says Hackston of the Myers-Briggs Company. “They’re extremely deadline-focused, but there’s also a danger they can rush to hasty decisions, particularly without colleagues nearby to check their impulses. Sometimes INTJs need to be reminded to stop for a second, take their time, and let ideas germinate, rather than just rushing straight at them.”
4. ISFJ: practical helpers
Who they are: The most extroverted of the introverts, ISFJs prioritize harmony and co-operation, have a strong work ethic, and are sensitive to colleagues’ wishes and feelings. But there is steel behind their zeal: They tend to be extremely conscientious workers who are natural managers, capable of keeping remote teams bonded and happy.
How to work with them: “ISFJs display incredible attention to detail, so they’re great for checking over others’ work, editing shared documents, or looking over pitches and proposals at the final stage,” says Peacock. “They’re also very good at following rules and inspiring others to do the same, so put them in charge of any time tracking software you use—and watch them increase the efficiency of the entire team.”
5. ISTP: logical pragmatists
Who they are: These are direct, to-the-point characters who are loyal to their peers but not overly concerned with laws and rules. ISTPs are the most unpredictable of the 16 personality types, because they’re typically rational and logical, but can also be enthusiastic and spontaneous.
How to work with them: Virtuosos will likely feel the impact of missed day-to-day interactions with their teams most of all, so they’ll benefit from scheduled one-on-one digital meetings to maintain drive and focus. “ISTPs tend to excel at troubleshooting, so in a remote work environment they can be a major tech asset,” says Peacock. “They’re very good at test driving new tools and navigating software, but they also lose focus easily. They’re the team member most likely to turn off their camera in a meeting, open another window, and start surfing the net—so they do need to be managed.”
6. ISFP: versatile supporters
Who they are: Sensitive doers who thrive when creating for others. Adventurers are warm, approachable, friendly, and averse to confrontation. They also see the value of exploring new things and discovering new experiences.
How to work with them: “This group likes to live in the moment and can become completely wrapped up in their work,” says Peacock. “Working from home and without colleagues physically monitoring them, they can burn out quite easily, so need to be reminded to take an hour for lunch and finish the working day at a reasonable time. Their energy is an asset, but it sometimes needs to be harnessed and directed in the right direction by others.”
7. INFP: thoughtful idealists
Who they are: Laid-back idea-people with a well-developed value system, INFPs can often get lost in their imaginations and daydreams. While they bring intensity and enthusiasm to projects, they often find it challenging to sustain their excitement for long periods of time.
How to work with them: “This type tends to have very deep-seated values, which can cause problems because frustrations can stew when they’re offended,” says Hackston. “This is amplified when working remotely as grievances can linger for longer, so managers need to encourage them to get any concerns out into the open. Otherwise, the key to getting the best out of this group is to encourage and reinforce meaning in their work.” In other words, if their projects align with their values, this group can be an unstoppable force.
8. INTP: objective analysts
Who they are: renegade problem solvers who love patterns, are quick to notice discrepancies, and cherish competence and logic. They thrive off being alone and will enjoy lockdown more than any other type. Albert Einstein is the archetypal INTP.
How to work with them: “This type really needs to be given the freedom to do things in an original way, and to be listened to, because they come up with the smartest solutions,” says Peacock.
“Their weak spot is that they often neglect to share decisions and solutions, and that trait can become even more pronounced when working from home,” adds Hackston. If there’s an INTP on your team, encourage them to use shared documents and software as much as possible. A tool like Confluence, for example, would be ideal.
9. ESTP: energetic problem solvers
Who they are: risk-takers who thrive on solving big problems at a fast pace. They’re passionate about their pursuits but can also get impatient with longer-term projects as they suffer from short attention spans. Entrepreneurs can be a major asset to any team, but they can also be hard to manage because they’re not particularly respectful of rules.
How to work with them: The solution here is simple—keep things fun and keep them moving fast. “This personality type is classically impatient, so give them a day’s worth of tasks in a project tool rather than any long-term targets,” says Peacock. “They’re also often very good at firefighting because the thrill of the moment is exciting to them. As a general rule, Entrepreneurs are great at thinking outside the box, so don’t put them inside one by stifling their creativity.”
10. ESFP: enthusiastic improvisers
Who they are: The life and soul of the workplace, this personality type likes to show up and show off. They’re energetic, enthusiastic, and natural performers who often end up in creative or artistic professions. But while they love the spotlight, they’re also sympathetic, warm, and generous.
How to work with them: “Entertainers need to be given time to sparkle in front of others, so remote working can drain them,” says Peacock. “Wherever possible, get them involved in videos, voiceovers, podcasts, or any project that involves creative performance. They’ll also be superb in remote pitches, as they’ll bring a persuasive energy which could otherwise be lacking via computer screen.”
11. ENFP: imaginative motivators
Who they are: perceptive people-pleasers who love to experiment and explore. Campaigners have a strong, intuitive nature and like to be around others, operating from feelings above logic. Crucially, they are motivated more by heartfelt goals than by money.
How to work with them: “This group excels at both idea-generation and collaborative projects, so they’d be a major asset in brainstorming sessions and any big picture thinking,” says Hackston. “Their weakness is that they’re not the best starter-finishers, so deadlines can be an issue. That can be exacerbated when working remotely when they don’t always see messages or respond quickly enough to colleagues. As a result, they often need gently managing in order to realize their high creative value.”
12. ENTP: enterprising explorers
Who they are: charismatic intellectuals who enjoy pulling strings. Many CEOs slot into this group. This personality type is logical, rational, and objective but needs constant mental stimulation. Often leaders and managers, they prefer to focus on big ideas and resist repetitive tasks and routines.
How to work with them: Predictably, Debaters are very good at debating, so play to their strengths. “This group tends to be great on new ideas and products, as well as bigger discussions about how to move the business forward,” says Peacock. “They’re also adept at impressing clients and pitching for new business, so you want them on any game-changing Zoom calls. You just might need to remind them to mute themselves occasionally, because, if unchecked, they may dominate conversation.”
13. ESTJ: efficient organizers
Who they are: Also nicknamed The Guardian, this type is made up of pragmatic decision-makers who are traditional, organized, hard-working, methodical, and loyal. If your business was a sports team, they’d be the veteran captain.
How to work with them: “This group loves to organize themselves, other people, and the world around them, which can be an asset but can also come across as bossy and aggressive—particularly when they’re dishing out instructions without any face-to-face contact,” says Hackston. “They often need to be reminded to be tactful with others, particularly in an environment where they’re primarily communicating via email or messaging apps, leaving their sentences open to greater interpretation.”
14. ESFJ: supportive contributors
Who they are: Nurturing caregivers who thrive on serving the collective. This group are sociable, kind, and considerate—and will typically put others’ needs first. They’ll be the ones messaging colleagues directly to check on their well-being, while trying to organize online quizzes and virtual happy hours.
How to work with them: “This is the personality type who makes the best project managers, because people love working for them,” says Peacock. “They’re organized, as well as thoughtful, so are ideal for bringing projects together on time. Thanks to their caring, patient nature, they’d also be a strong choice for remote onboarding new starters.”
15. ENFJ: compassionate facilitators
Who they are: Another group of natural leaders, but unlike their ENTP colleagues, this cadre is driven more by intuition and feelings than logic and rationality. If they’re managers, they’re the inspirational type: extremely driven but also extremely empathetic to the needs of those around them. Both Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama are classic ENFJs.
How to work with them: People-focused diplomats, this group tends to forget their own needs in favor of the greater good, and that can sometimes be detrimental—not just in terms of burnout, but also when completing their own tasks. However, with this group, the positives vastly outweigh any negatives.
“It’s always a good idea to have Protagonists lead group discussions, even if they’re not in a leadership role because they excel at it,” says Peacock. “They should be your go-to Zoom meeting host, and at the heart of any situation involving discussion, consensus, and the bringing together of people and ideas.”
16. ENTJ: decisive strategists
Who they are: logical planners who love breaking down boundaries and identifying solutions. They value knowledge and have little patience with inefficiency. Above all, they are about goal-setting, structure, and organization. They are generally charismatic and confident and can motivate others behind a common goal.
How to work with them: “This type naturally likes big pictures and big decisions, and that can create problems when working from home,” says Hackston. “They don’t always see the finer details when implementing plans, and in a remote working environment, that puts them at greater risk of pushing through decisions without properly taking in the views of others. To truly excel, ENTJs need to remember the necessary balance between directing and consulting.”
Before accepting an apology, you first have to determine if it’s genuine.
Suppose someone apologizes to you for harm they’ve caused, and it doesn’t quite “land.” Maybe it doesn’t sound entirely sincere—or you get a vague sense that the person delivering it just wants to wrap it up, but you’re not yet ready to move on. Or maybe they offer any of these notoriously bad ways to make amends:
- A statement that contains a “but” (“I’m sorry, but…”) invalidates the apology.
- Similarly, “if” (“I’m sorry if…”) suggests that your hurt may not have happened.
- Vague wording (“for what happened”) fails to take personal responsibility.
- Passive voice (“the mistake that you were affected by”) is squirming out of responsibility, too.
- Too many words, explanations, and justifications crowd the picture.
As I write this, I struggle with the term “fake apologies,” because of course, no one can know for sure what’s in the heart of another person. But if you’re the recipient, you somehow have to figure out whether or not to accept an apology, which is hard to do if you feel uneasy and mistrustful and just can’t tell if it’s genuine.
For starters, a few words of regret usually won’t carry enough weight to build (or rebuild) trust. The words “I’m sorry” are not a magic incantation that instantly inspires faith in someone. If you’re not interested in repairing the relationship in question, you don’t have to worry about whether the apology attempt is sincere. Just move on.
But, if there is some trust between you, you probably don’t want to give up too easily. If you value the relationship, you have to determine whether or not this apology is an attempt to manipulate you and misrepresent feelings of regret. The question here concerns the person’s motives. (We’ll get to other kinds of inadequate apologies below.)
The potential apology could be less than sincere in any number of ways:
- He says the right words, but they’re pro forma (acting as required, but absent any real feeling for hurt he caused).
- She simply wants the problem she created to disappear (but doesn’t care about healing your hurt).
- He wants to avoid negative consequences of hurtful actions or inaction (rather than wanting to take responsibility for them).
- They don’t believe they’re responsible but want interpersonal “credit” for making amends (putting you in the position of being the one causing a problem, e.g., “I said I was sorry—why are you holding a grudge?”).
- She believes she’s done something harmful, and is preoccupied with her own guilt and only wants to alleviate that (rather than healing your hurt or repairing the relationship).
As they stand, these approaches are all pretty much doomed to fail. Unless they’re vastly improved, you won’t be healed and the relationship won’t be repaired.
You always may refuse to accept any inadequate apology. That’s your prerogative.
But, if you care about the person and you want to hold onto the relationship, you probably want to be sure about the person’s sincerity. What if the apology attempt is what I might call inept but well-meaning? Many would-be apologizers fall on their faces, not because of insincerity but because they simply don’t know how.
How can you determine the difference?
My suggestion: In order to find out if he means his unconvincing “I’m sorry,” give him a second chance to do it right and see what happens. Naturally, the key here is that you have to know what would be an effective apology, so you know what to ask for.
A Good Apology
Saying “I’m sorry” is rarely the first part of a good apology. Before saying anything, the other person has to understand your hurt. Usually, that means listening. So, ask her to back up and let you tell her about your experience of hurt, about how her behavior has affected you.
In this Step One, nothing about the apologizer is relevant: not her good intentions, good character, history of kindness, etc. If she’s not interested or unwilling to listen to you, you have discovered the shallowness of her regret. Her apology will remain partial and ineffective. If she can engage in a genuine attempt to understand, you are on your way to a real repair.
But that’s only the first step! There are four things that have to happen for the apology to be real and effective. Each one is necessary and none is sufficient by itself. If you and your would-be apologizer go through this process together, your relationship will not only recover from this hurt; it will be stronger.
The second step, to make a sincere statement of responsibility and empathy, is much easier if Step One has taken place—and much more convincing. Nonetheless, there are still several telltale ways for Step Two to go wrong, some of which appear in the beginning of this column. In my experience, most people need practice at these skills. If your apologizer has gotten this far with you, you can probably sense good-willed effort; nonetheless, your relationship will benefit from your holding high standards for this step.
The third step requires the person to make restitution, that is, to make up for the wrong or hurt. In relationships, these reparations can take the form of a “do-over,” a chance to get right what the person got wrong the first time. Often a sense of what needs to be done is reached via collaboration with you. Making it right requires a person to put her words or intentions into action. Reluctance to try again or to extend herself in this way is another sign that your apologizer isn’t really interested in making a thorough apology.
But Step Four, making sure it doesn’t happen again, is the pudding in which the proof lies. To be a trustworthy apologizer, the person has to change their ways or the conditions that led to the initial problem. Good intentions—or avowals to that effect—are easy, but rarely enough. It will take time for you to see if a true change has taken place, but a convincing plan helps you stay motivated to see it through.
Making your way through this process is energy-intensive for you both and its outcome only fully reveals itself over time. But if your apologizer follows these four steps, they will convince you of their sincerity. It’s the only way to know for sure.
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When Columbia University law professor Alexandra Carter teaches people to negotiate, she shows them a picture of a kayak navigating a series of sea caves. It seems an unlikely metaphor, but the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of negotiate is “to successfully travel along or over.”
She loves the metaphor because to get anywhere in a kayak, you need the right information and must steer, which comes by paddling with a steady rhythm. Outside forces can also carry you away. “Everything you see, hear and feel helps you to steer with accuracy toward your goal,” she writes in her recent book Ask for More.
Translate the kayak to your career, and she says the first lesson is that you don’t wait for a contract to come due with a client or the end of the year to negotiate salary with your boss. Instead, you are continuously piloting those relationships in every conversation you have. Also, you need the right information to steer you toward your goal, which comes by asking questions.
The core of her approach are 10 questions, the first five to ask of yourself and the next five of the other party. Those first five, which she calls “the mirror,” are:
- What’s the problem I want to solve? Negotiations, after all, are about steering. Most people figure the fun part of negotiations is figuring out the answer, but the juicy part is defining your problem.
- What do I need? People often prepare for negotiations by thinking about their worst case, bottom line for a deal. But she says research shows those who instead focus on identifying their goals get more from negotiations, especially if their aspirations are optimistic, specific and justifiable.
- What do I feel? Feelings are facts. They are real and must be dealt with in any negotiation.
- How have I handled this successfully in the past? Considering a past success boosts confidence and helps you to return to the successful mindset from that previous time, allowing you to access your inner wisdom and generate helpful ideas.
- What’s the first step? There may be many issues on the table in the negotiation. Which one should you start with? Make sure you are likely to have success with it, so you can build momentum.
Now shift your eyes from the mirror to “the window” and ask these five questions to work with the other party:
- Tell me … ? Cast a wide net by asking that person to share their view of the goal or problem that brought you together, any important details relating to it, their feelings and concerns, and anything else they feel like adding. “No question unlocks trust, creativity, understanding and mind-blowing solutions like ‘Tell me,’” she says. Sometimes the issue is not what you thought.
- What do you need? This can be a game-changer, helping to dig underneath the other person’s demands and figure out what is driving them.
- What are your concerns? This not only gives you information that you can use in the discussions but also makes the other person feel heard. If concerns are left unsaid, the negotiation will likely end unresolved.
- How have you handled this successfully in the past? Again you travel back in time, but this time encouraging the other person to remember ways in which they have handled similar challenges successfully. “It triggers our memory bank of experiences to allow us to expand our pie of potential options for our current situation,” she says.
- What’s the first step? You don’t have to accept what they say, but by asking you increase the chance some option they offer fits with your needs.
So get in your figurative kayak, armed with questions rather than paddles, and move ahead.
- If you unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? It’s unlikely your reaction was the same as renowned fashion designer Phillip Lim: “I just sit still and do nothing. … This is the ultimate luxury.”
- With the future so uncertain, London Business School professor Herminia Ibarra recommends in Harvard Business Review conjuring up a diverse portfolio of options rather than sticking single-mindedly to one: “Today, more than ever, the path to your next career will be circuitous.”
- The hardest thing of getting things done is doing one thing at a time, says career coach Dan Rockwell. The second hardest part of getting things done is choosing the right task.
- Consultant John Linkner says you can sell better if you fill in the blanks on these three statements: After working with me, customers will have no more _____. After working with me, customers will have a good deal more _____. After working with me customers will have less _____.
- To quickly open the Explorer window in Windows 10 hit Win+E on the keyboard.
Finding a new job in the field you’ve worked in for years can be a challenge. Switching to a new career track can be plenty daunting, but there’s hope so long as you properly prepare to impress potential employers.
“It is entirely possible to pivot and move into a job or career that you love,” Katie Fogarty, a communications and career coach and founder of The Reboot Group, tells Inverse. “I see people do it all the time. If you’re lit up about moving into a new arena, you should go for it.”
If you’re thinking of entering a new field, here’s what you should do, according to Fogarty and Sean Koppelman, a career coach and president at The Talent Magnet.
1. Do a career audit
The first step in any job search is to conduct an audit on yourself.
“Conduct a personal SWOT analysis — take inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats,” Koppelman said. “Understand clearly your core competencies and what you really enjoy doing. Find what skills you have — communication, analysis, etc. — and identify the ones that are transferable to the new role.”
A way to do this is list out your accomplishments, then brainstorm a second column to figure out a prospective employers’ needs, Fogarty said. Then compare these lists and see how your existing skill set can satisfy those needs.
It may end up being that to get the job you really want, you have to go back to school or obtain a certification, Fogarty said. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a career 180.
2. Find meaningful work
Some people may know exactly where they want to end up, but if you only have a foggy idea of the career you want, the audit process should make it clearer.
“Through the inventory process, look at what this move will do to provide opportunities that you’re not getting in your current role,” Koppelman said. “Find the responsibilities and tasks that provide more personal and professional enjoyment. Find those things that you really enjoy that you don’t have the opportunity to do. That’s how to find a good fit.”
3. Check for side doors
One of Fogarty’s clients was a news anchor with 20 years of experience who found herself wanting to move into corporate communications. Along with auditing her career and finding her transferable skills, she had also been conducting communication workshops with businesses to develop connections.
“If you’re looking to open a door, you can look for a small way in,” Fogarty said.
One way to do that is to do work for free to build a portfolio. Fogarty had pivoted from communications to career coaching by initially offering her services gratis.
Koppelman suggested another way to get closer toward your ideal job: “Look for a job that gets you closer to the job you want.”
4. Become an expert
When you’re entering a new field, much of your current resume becomes moot. This is why it’s important to learn everything you can about your industry of choice.
“Read, watch, and listen to content specific to that industry. Become a subject matter expert and explain how what you’ve done in your career can help them,” Koppelman said. “Being a storyteller is important. If you have passion and enthusiasm, it can overcome a lack of experience during an in-person interview.”
5. Make the pitch
Your resume, cover letter, and online profiles should tell the story of why you’re the best person for the job.
“People hire to solve challenges, such as winning more customers or growing their business,” Fogarty said. “Anyone trying to convince someone to hire them should understand what their challenges are and through language show they’re the right person to solve them. With a LinkedIn profile, don’t talk about your past history, show how your work will make a difference to that company. ‘Why you’ gets you hired.”
Also, remember that networking remains important.
“Especially during these times, your network is your net worth,” Koppelman said. “Platforms such as LinkedIn don’t get used the proper way until people are in a desperate need. This is the time to leverage your network.”
This is a great article with lots of information and practical tips you can use right away.
Workplace bullying refers to any repeated, intentional behavior directed at an employee that is intended to degrade, humiliate, embarrass, or otherwise undermine their performance. It can come from colleagues, supervisors, or management, and is a real problem for workers at all levels. It’s no joke. By learning to recognize and address workplace bullying behavior, you can help to create a healthier, more productive environment for yourself and your colleagues. Keep reading after the jump to learn more.
Part One of Four:
Understanding Workplace BullyingEdit
1Learn what a bully is and what a bully does. Just like their immature little brothers and sisters on the schoolyard, workplace bullies use same tools of intimidation and manipulation to bring you down. Learning to recognize their behavior is the first step in putting a stop to it and getting back to work in a comfortable environment.
- A bully gains enjoyment from tormenting others. You might not always get along with everyone at work, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a bully on your hands any more than you’re a bully yourself. Distinguish between the two by recognizing this trait–does this person seem to make special effort in messing with you, tripping you up, or bringing you down? Do they seem to enjoy it? If the answer is yes, this might suggest a bully.
- Bullies often have deep-seated psychological issues related to control. Know that your bullying has less to do with your performance and your personality and more to do with the bully’s insecurities.
Recognize bullying behaviors. Watch for the sure signs of a bully that signify more than a simple misunderstanding or personal disagreement. Workplace bullying might include:
3Pay attention to signs outside of work that suggest you’re a victim of bullying. You might be suffering from bullying if you suffer at home in the following ways:
- Shouting, whether in private, in front of colleagues, or in front of customers
- Belittling or disrespectful comments
- Excessive monitoring, criticizing, or nitpicking someone’s work
- Deliberately overloading someone with work
- Undermining someone’s work by setting them up to fail
- Purposefully withholding information needed to perform a job efficiently
- Actively excluding someone from normal workplace/staff room conversations and making someone feel unwelcome
- You have trouble sleeping or struggle with nausea and vomiting because you’re scared to go to work
- Your family gets frustrated because of how much you talk and obsess about work problems
- You spend days off worrying about going back to work
- Your doctor notices health problems like blood pressure and other stress concerns
- You feel guilty about having provoked your workplace troubles
4Don’t ignore the feeling that you’re being bullied. If you feel singled out unfairly, or as if you’re picked on a disproportionate amount, it can be tempting to come up with excuses. “Everyone gets treated this way,” or “I deserve it” are common guilt trips that bullies help to lay on you. Don’t fall into a trap of self-loathing if you feel you’re being bullied. Form a plan to stop the bullying and reclaim your workplace.
- Unlike schoolyard bullies, who tend to pick on victims they identify as alone or weak, workplace bullies typically pick on employees they consider threatening to their career. If your presence makes someone else look bad enough they feel the need to take you down, take it as a twisted compliment. You’re good at what you do. You know this. Don’t let them confuse you.
Part Two of Four:
1Tell the bully to stop. This is, of course, more difficult than it sounds, but you can keep a few simple gestures and statements in mind to bring out when you’re feeling bullied.
- Put your hands up, creating a barrier between you and your bully, like a policeman using the stop signal with his hand.
- Say something short that communicates your frustration, like: “Please stop and let me work” or “Stop talking please.” This will help you to stand up to the behavior and give you ammunition for your report if the behavior continues.
- Never escalate the bullying. Shouting counter insults or yelling back might end up getting you in trouble or making the situation worse. Use a calm, collected tone of voice, and tell the person to stop as if you were talking to a dog chewing on a slipper.
2Keep a record of all bullying events. Record the name of your tormentor and the method of bullying. Record specific times, dates, locations, and the names of any witnesses to the events. Provide and gather as much information as you can. Collecting documentation is the most important and concrete way to get the bullying to stop when you take the issue to your superiors or a legal team.
- Even if you’re not sure you’re being bullied, journaling about your feelings in a diary can help you to get your feelings out and figure out for yourself what you’re struggling with. As a result of writing down your feelings and your frustrations, you might decide you don’t have a bully, or that you definitely do and you need to take action.
3Get witnesses. Consult with your fellow co-workers any time you feel bullied and make sure they’ll back you up by corroborating your evidence. Have them write it down for future reference. Pick someone who works at the same time you do, or who has a desk near yours.
- If bullying tends to happen at particular times or in particular locations, have your witness linger in the area if you suspect you’re going to be tormented by your bully. Bring partners into a meeting with a superior who you feel bullies you. You’ll have backup in case things get ugly and you’ll have evidence for later.
- If you’re being bullied, there’s a good chance others are too. Team up and help each other deal with a common enemy.
Keep calm and wait a while. Make sure that you’ve collected your evidence and that you’re calm and professional. Running to your boss in the throes of emotional turmoil can make you seem whiny, or like you’re overreacting, when there’s a bigger issue at hand. If you’re calm, you’ll be more articulate, present a better case for yourself, and stand a better chance of changing your workplace for the better.
- Wait overnight between a bullying situation and reporting things to your boss. If you’re bullied in the mean time, or if you have to wait a while before talking to your boss, do your best to avoid your bully. Remain calm and continue on your way. If you expect bullying might happen, you’ll be prepared when it does.
- Wait overnight between a bullying situation and reporting things to your boss. If you’re bullied in the mean time, or if you have to wait a while before talking to your boss, do your best to avoid your bully. Remain calm and continue on your way. If you expect bullying might happen, you’ll be prepared when it does.
5Set up a meeting with your supervisor or HR representative. Bring your written evidence, your witnesses, and present your case as calmly as you can. Practice what you’re going to say before you get in there and have to say it. Keep your complaint short and sweet, and fill out any documentation paperwork provided for you by your superiors.
- Don’t suggest a course of action unless your boss requests it. In other words, it’s inappropriate to talk to your boss and say, “Bruce needs to get fired because he bullies me.” Lay out your case as strongly as possible and with as much incriminating evidence as you can, say, “I’m frustrated with this behavior and I’ve run out of options, so I thought you needed to know.” Let your superiors come to their own conclusions about a course of action.
- If your superior is the one bullying you, contact HR or contact your supervisor’s superiors. It’s not the army and there is no “chain of command.” Talk to someone who can make a difference.
6Follow up. If the bullying continues and it still hasn’t been sorted out and nothing is being done to stop it, you have the right to take it further and go higher up, by talking to higher management, personnel and even HR (Human Resources). Continue until your complaint is taken seriously and the situation is remedied to allow you to work in a welcoming environment.
- It would be helpful to come up with a variety of alternatives to help make the situation better for you. If your boss’s supervisor is unwilling to fire your boss but acknowledges that bullying has occurred, are you willing to transfer? Are you willing to work from home? What would make the situation “right” by you? Give some alternatives serious thought in case you need to present a case for yourself.
- If you present evidence and nothing changes or the situation becomes worse, consult a lawyer and consider legal action. Provide them with documentation and seek legal action.
Part Three of Four:
Recovering From BullyingEdit
1Make getting better a priority. You won’t be any good as a worker and you won’t be happy as a person if you don’t take the time to recover from your experience with bullying. Take some time off and ignore work for a while.
- If you’ve presented a good case for yourself, you should be a good candidate for a paid vacation. Jump on this opportunity.
2Engage in meaningful and fulfilling activities outside of work. It’s called work, not super-happy-fun-time, for a reason. Any job, even one at a healthy workplace that you enjoy, can get to you after a while and leave you in need of a vacation that rejuvenates your work ethic and your spirit. If you’ve been bullied and want to start feeling better, you might:
3Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. You might be in need of more substantial care than you can provide by yourself. Therapy or medication might be in order if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the grip of a workplace bully.
4Change jobs. It may be that, even if the bully has been dealt with, you might be more comfortable seeking new opportunities elsewhere. Treat this whole experience as an opportunity rather than a setback. If you were unhappy at your place of work, maybe developing skills in a new profession, moving to a different climate, or just transferring to a new branch might provide you with a fresh outlook on life and work.
Part Four of Four:
Preventing Bullying as an EmployerEdit
1Implement a zero-tolerance bullying policy at your business. Any health and wellness policy needs to involve anti-bullying protocols. Make sure this is covered and supported by the management and is taken seriously at all levels of the business.
- Pair this with an open door policy and hold frequent orientation meetings regarding workplace bullying, making sure employees at all levels are on the look out for this behavior.
2Address bullying behaviors immediately. It’s easy to sit back and hope for the best, thinking that your employees will be able to work it out among themselves. It won’t. Don’t let a problem fester among your employees if you want a productive, healthy, and effective work environment.
- Investigate all complaints seriously and fully. Even if complaints seem to come from overly sensitive employees and turn out to be the result of simple misunderstandings, they’re worthy of your attention.
3Eliminate competition. Often bullying evolves from a sense of competition in the workplace, leading employees who feel threatened by the skills of other employees to attempt to bring them down or sabotage their efforts by engaging in psychological warfare. It’s a dangerous and problematic workplace dynamic to let fester.
- Workplace competition is based on the belief that employees want to be the best and will work harder when rewarded for successes. While it’s true that competition in some business models can increase productivity, it also increases the turnover of employees and can create a hostile and unwelcoming environment.
4Encourage management and staff interaction. The more involved your workforce is at all levels with itself, the less likely the lowest-level workers are to take matters into their own hands. Think of it as Lord of the Flies–don’t let the parents be absent from the island, and the kids will be ok.
QuestionIs it harassment if a co-worker is degrading me to other co-workers?Community Answer
- Yes, it is harassment if the degradation is affecting the quality of projects you get and the treatment you receive at the workplace, more so if it is taking place every day and affecting your mental and physical health. If you have evidence of harassment, take it to HR and work with them to find a solution.
QuestionHow do I combat systematic bullying by a management team against employees?Community Answer
- If there is an HR department at your company, complain to them. If there are higher-ups above the management team, express your concerns to them as well. If multiple employees come forward together instead of just one person, all the better, If you have any evidence you can present, that’s helpful. If none of this helps, then there is likely a level of corruption and/or complacency in your workplace that you won’t be able to overcome, and it might be best to work on finding yourself a different job.
QuestionCan writing “nitpicking comments” be classified as bullying?
QuestionI have been verbally abused and none of the article suggestions worked. Are there more suggestions I could try?
QuestionHow do I deal with an unnecessary suspension?Community Answer
- If you are part of a union, see your union representative. If not, and you are in a state in the union that is labelled ‘At Will Employment’, use caution before deciding how to fight an unfair suspension. The owner of a smaller company will probably value knowing that you would rather be at the office. A larger firm is a little more tricky. Using the proper means of ‘chain of command’ would be to your benefit. Stay professional, and start a letter-writing campaign. Carbon copy all of the proper supervisors or managers. Include the home office, if there is one. Let them know you see their point, but feel unfairly singled out, perhaps. Also, remind them that you would rather be working!
QuestionWhat if the supervisor is bullied by the staff employee and undermining all work relationships of the supervisor? Why is it assumed the supervisor is the bully?Top Answerer
- Because bullying is associated with a position of power, whether real or perceived. Bullying among equals is rare, as is bullying where a more powerful person is the victim. Regardless of their roles, if a subordinate and a supervisor for some reason both perceive the subordinate to be more powerful, then sure, bullying can occur in that direction as well. The article deals primarily with how to handle it though, and this relationship is just an example.
QuestionI am a minority in my workplace, how can I deal with constant bullying and alienation without challenging it formally?
QuestionWhat can I do if my boss texts me constantly to have me tell other coworkers things he doesn’t want to?Community Answer
- Try to understand why the boss is doing this. If you think this puts in the face of trouble, then do it in a nice way.
Is there any recourse for me if I was forced to retire because I was alienated by my boss’ son?
What do I do if I was demoted at work for being bullied?
I am a supervisor and have a coworker who is constantly nasty and rude to fellow coworkers and myself. S/he questions all my decisions and goes to management if they don’t like it. Is this bullying?
Is it a form of bullying if someone calls me a “no brain”?
My boss, the bully, is also the owner of the company. Is there any alternative to seeking legal advice? For that matter, what could a lawyer do?
A bullied person can feel very lonely as well, and the effects can last for a long time, even for life.
Do not retaliate – It can throw things out of hand and you could end up being blamed instead of the bully.
A bully may interrogate the victim with lots of ‘police interview’ or ‘cross examination style’ questions. Interrogation can make a victim be afraid to open up and it can make them feel like the bad one instead of the bully/harasser and it can make them feel anxious, defensive and more alone.
Beware malicious gossip and unkind remarks that are dressed up as jokes or banter. If it hurts your feelings, it hurts your feelings.
Keep a diary of all the bullying events and keep evidence such as emails and work instructions to back up your claims.
For nasty comments said to you – the best thing to do is to say nothing and walk away, or just use one-word replies to show that you are not interested in the bully’s/bullies nonsense.
Carry on being yourself and carry on feeling good about yourself. Don’t believe the rubbish they say and don’t let them stop you being you.
Don’t believe bullying myths such as “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” and others e.g. “Big girls/boys don’t cry.” Words do hurt and cut to the very core, and being bullied can reduce a person to tears and sadness.
Don’t ever take what a bully says personally; doing so will only damage your self esteem.
Think about the reaction. If it escalates, make sure you have a witness for any future action you might take. Most of all you are putting this person on immediate notice that you will not be treated this way and will not under any circumstances accept such behavior.
About This Article
Great article on the subject. Covers many of the bases!
Most people look forward to returning to work after a disability leave. It’s a chance to reconnect with co-workers, re-engage with work, and get back to old routines. But the transition back to work can also be difficult. You may be returning with new priorities in your life or new restrictions on what you can do. Whatever your situation, there are ways to help smooth your return.
Find out what to expect when you return
Returning from a disability leave is a big change in your life. In addition to the adjustments in your daily routine, you may not be returning to work exactly as you left. Your job or your capacity for work may be different now. As you prepare for your return, it will help to gather as much information as possible.
- Talk to your doctor about what to expect as you are recovering. Be clear about what you are currently able to do, and how that impacts your work. If your job requires lifting, will you be able to do this work? If you need to stand or sit for hours, you may need a break at regular intervals.
- If you will need accommodations in the workplace, talk with your leave coordinator. The person responsible for managing your leave may be in human resources, a case manager outside the company, or your union representative. Together, review your current abilities and job description. Identify changes that will allow you to return safely to productive work. You may be able to return to full-time work, but need a schedule change to accommodate ongoing medical treatments. You may need a different chair, computer screen, or a wrist rest at your desk. Or, you may need to be temporarily reassigned to a job that requires no travel.
- Talk with your manager about what you expect, and about what is expected of you. Even if there are no tangible accommodations to your work environment or schedule, it may take you a while to get “up to speed.” Be clear about what you will need to feel confident about your work. Together, plan how much work you will be able to do when you first return.
- Talk to others who have experienced a similar injury or illness and who have returned to work. Ask them about their experience. What can they tell you about the first few days of work? Ask which supports proved helpful to them over time.
Finalize your arrangements for personal and family needs
As your return date approaches, do what you can to prepare yourself and your family for the transition back to work. Your return will be smoother if you have had a chance to address your personal and family needs.
- Firm up any medical arrangements you need to make before your return. Schedule appointments for physical therapy or other medical treatments. Make transportation arrangements. Refill prescriptions that are running low.
- If you need child care, finalize plans now. You may need to start up child care again or adjust existing care to your new work schedule. Plan back-up child care as well. A trial run of the new arrangement during your last week of leave will help you and your child adjust to the new transition.
- Establish routines at home for the beginning and end of the day. It may help to have a checklist to follow, both for you and for other family members who share in household responsibilities. Think, too, about what you can do the night before, and what needs to get done in the morning.
- Take care of errands and household tasks. Before you return, you might prepare and freeze several meals. Do you need a haircut? Are there bills to be paid? Any tasks you can complete in your final days on leave will help make things easier at home as you make the transition back to work.
Work with your company’s leave coordinator to make any special arrangements for your return
As you approach the end of your leave, your leave coordinator can help with the timing of your return. Finalize plans to assist in your transition back to work, as well.
- Identify any physical or emotional limitations that affect your work. Are you taking medication that affects your ability to perform certain tasks at work? Will you be able to handle the walk from the parking lot to your company’s building? Be clear about what you can do and what you aren’t yet able to do.
- Think about any special schedule requirements you may have. Will you need to leave work for medical appointments? You may need to take time out from work for physical therapy exercises. Find out if you can return to work on a reduced schedule until you are fully recovered.
- Plan to evaluate your changing abilities as you recover. In time, most people who return from a disability leave are able to work at full capacity. Plan to make adjustments to your schedule or other accommodations as needed.
Plan your return with your manager
Hopefully, you have been in touch with your manager throughout your leave, and have found ways to stay current about what’s going on at work. As your return date approaches, you’ll need to touch base more often with your manager.
- Demonstrate commitment and talk about special concerns. Show your commitment to the company and your work group by initiating a conversation with your manager about your return.
- Let your manager know as early as you can about any schedule adjustments or other accommodations you may need. Your company’s leave coordinator can help you make those arrangements with your manager.
- The details of your medical situation can be kept confidential. Only your company’s leave coordinator or human resources department needs to know about your medical condition. If you choose to keep your condition confidential, you should decide what to say to your manager about your absence. Think, too, about what you would like your manager to say to others at work.
- Some employees do find it helpful to share information about their situation with their manager, as a way of setting expectations. You might photocopy an article, for example or a few pages from a book about your condition. A piece written by an expert may explain what you are going through and help your manager understand the realities of your situation.
- Demonstrate commitment and talk about special concerns. Show your commitment to the company and your work group by initiating a conversation with your manager about your return.
- Talk about job responsibilities and your work schedule. Discuss with your manager how the work you are responsible for will get done. Talk about which tasks you can take on right now, and which, because of your medical condition, you may not be able to manage until later.
- If you can’t take on all of your former responsibilities right away, you might offer to gradually increase your workload.
- Talk about your schedule and whether some flexibility might help in the transition back to work. If flexibility is necessary for a medical reason, your leave coordinator can help you work out the details with your manager.
- As you have these discussions, try to see things from your manager’s point of view. Your manager must balance the needs of everyone in the department and see that the work gets done. You are the person closest to the work, and you can play an important role in helping your manager come up with business alternatives and staffing solutions. Work with your manager to find “win/win” solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
- Talk about job responsibilities and your work schedule. Discuss with your manager how the work you are responsible for will get done. Talk about which tasks you can take on right now, and which, because of your medical condition, you may not be able to manage until later.
- Follow up with regular meetings. Once you are back at work, continue to meet regularly with your manager. It will give you both a chance to re-evaluate your workload, to see how you are managing, and to determine whether the business’s needs are being met. Regular meetings with your manager will also help you feel like a normal part of the work group, rather than an “outsider” with an unusual schedule or special condition.
- Use your meetings to honestly assess your workload, to be sure you aren’t trying to take on too much too quickly.
- As you make progress toward recovery, you and your manager can adjust your responsibilities to reflect your improving capabilities.
- When co-workers feel overworked. If you sense that co-worker resentment is affecting your work and the work of your team, talk with your manager about the problem.
- You may be able to defuse this tension by helping co-workers understand what you are going through. Perhaps just explaining your struggles will help. Be sure, too, to express your appreciation for their continuing support.
- It may be that you need your manager’s help. Your manager might discuss work assignments with your co-workers, making it clear that what they perceive, as “special treatment” is the company’s normal response to accommodate an employee with a disability. They may one day need the same flexibility.
- When co-workers feel overworked. If you sense that co-worker resentment is affecting your work and the work of your team, talk with your manager about the problem.
- When co-workers want to keep your work. You may have to deal with a co-worker who is reluctant to give up an interesting task assigned while you were on leave. Your manager is responsible for dealing with these conflicts, but you can help.
- If a subordinate has taken on temporary responsibilities during your absence, that person may worry that your return will mean a “demotion” to a more limited role. You might see if your manager could use your return as an opportunity to expand that employee’s role. Perhaps the employee can keep some or all of the responsibility taken on during your leave.
- Once you and your manager have decided which tasks you are resuming and which are being reassigned, suggest that your manager set up a meeting with your department or work group. Use the meeting to communicate the plan for managing these tasks and responsibilities.
- Your spouse. Your home routines are likely to have changed as a result of your injury or illness. You and your spouse may need to talk about your changing responsibilities. Rather than letting resentment build up, talk about ways you might share tasks at home more fairly.
- Getting the facts out in the open will help you both come up with solutions. If one of you feels an undue burden from cleaning or preparing dinner every night, you might decide to buy take-out food a couple of nights each week, cut back on your housecleaning for a while, or share the chores differently.
- Friends and family can help you get the rest, exercise, and emotional support you need. You can help by making your needs known. If you wait for those around you to offer their help, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.
- Co-workers might help run errands for you, or provide transportation to work.
Talk with co-workers
Co-workers, too, need to know what to expect from you as you return, and how your work will fit in with theirs. If you are returning at less than full capacity, your manager will play a key role in explaining how tasks will get done. You may either want to speak with co-workers yourself about your limitations and work capacity, or help your manager in explaining this to them.
Ideally, you want the people around you to understand what you can and cannot do, both when you first come back and later on, as your abilities change. Whether or not you share details of your condition with co-workers, it is important for them to know your current capabilities.
Get the help and support you need
The more help and support you get, the easier the transition back to work will be. Look for and accept help from whatever sources are available to you.
Remember, too, that the people around you who have been giving support may need rest and support themselves. Make sure the people who help you have time to “recharge.”
Your company may also offer training programs for employees in your situation. It may sponsor, be able to help to organize, or refer you to support groups of people with similar conditions. Check with your employer’s human resources department to review what is available.
Returning from a disability leave can be an enormous transition. With the help of your doctor, your leave coordinator, and your manager, you can set up a plan for a smooth and successful return to work.
I know how hard it can be to find work. So when I am afforded an opportunity, I am exceptionally committed
By Emily Plunkett, for CBC News Posted: Jan 31, 2018 4:00 AM ETLast Updated: Jan 31, 2018 4:00 AM ET
Sarnia-born Emily Plunkett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Gatineau.
It’s a gamble every time I decide to be open about my mental health: will I hear the typical “this might not work out” that I always fear will lead to my dismissal? Or will my employer actually accept it and try to work with me to find solutions?
I have a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder and depression, which can obviously pose some challenges in a working environment. I have held positions in customer service call centres and retail sales. Each of these positions come with their own sets of challenges requiring some level of accommodation, usually with scheduling around weekly doctor appointments and a designated spot for prolonged panic attacks.
But unless I am told by a doctor that I need medical leave, I don’t need to be off work or without a job — especially since my doctors and I recognize that the act of working is therapeutic and empowering.
I know many employers have reservations about hiring someone with a mental illness. They fear late starts, prolonged absences, erratic behaviour and so forth. And these fears are perceptible to employees, which explains why, according to the Centre For Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 39 per cent of Ontario workers would not tell their managers if they were experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.
But there is a case to be made that hiring people with mental illness could actually be to the benefit of the employer. For me at least, my struggle with depression means I can be extraordinarily creative in coming up with solutions to problems. I am also compassionate with customers and co-workers alike who might be having bad days. I often use a broad understanding of my own struggle to empathize during tense situations, and I draw on a variety of skills learned through therapy to remain relatively calm while working through problems.
And because I know how challenging it can be for those with mental illness to find jobs, I am that much more committed to my work when I am afforded an opportunity. In Canada, anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of people with severe mental illnesses find themselves unemployed, meaning that the minority who do find work probably consider themselves very fortunate. Indeed, these people may become the most loyal and hardworking employees an employer can welcome to their team.
- CMHA wants Ontario to ‘treat mental illness like the flu’
- New mental-health foundation aims to help struggling farmers
That said, the above doesn’t always apply if the issue of mental health is never really acknowledged or discussed in the workplace. Indeed, in my experience, not having an open conversation about mental illness can actually make things worse, and in some cases, just the thought of being let go under circumstances relating to my symptoms can lead to panic attacks and other undesirable effects.
In contrast, managers who have offered help and understanding to effectively manage my symptoms saw major successes in my performance as an employee. Granted, I have been in situations where employers dismissed my concerns or made me feel scared when my “secret” became known, and while I did still stay with those jobs, it was a challenge. It’s to everyone’s benefit to discuss these issues openly and constructively, and to resist the urge to shy away from challenges. Those willing and able to work while living with mental illness certainly do not avoid these struggles.
Source: Employable Me | TVO.org
What is your first impression when you hear the term Borderline personality disorder (BPD)? For many people, the term is fraught with stigma and negative connotations as a result of years of unhealthy representations and lack of research. But with the advent of continuing research, new clinical findings, and an increase in psycho-education about the disorder, things are looking up in terms of understanding BPD better.
With more knowledge and understanding of how behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions work in the lives of those with BPD, you will be better able to control your own emotions, cope, and utilize your boundaries.
This article will explore ways that families and friends can learn to cope with a loved one how displays BPD traits.
BPD is a very complex disorder for many diagnosed with it. The symptoms, the chaos, the abusive tendencies, the rage, the fear of trusting others, the feelings of abandonment, and the self-harm or suicidal thoughts all take families by surprise. Sadly, many sufferers struggle to explain their symptoms to others who may believe they are being manipulative, oppositional, problematic, or difficult on purpose. In fact, research suggests that BPD creates a kind of “mis-perception” of self and others. BPD can be likened to a foggy lens that you may attempt to look out of. You seem “images” of things but cannot see the complete picture. Individuals with BPD often see only half of the picture through a foggy, emotionally-driven lens. That’s why proper management of emotions and thoughts as well as anger can seem impossible. You may also notice that the individual, when escalated, recalls a completely different story of an argument than you remember it to be.
It is important that I highlight that BPD, under great distress, can result in paranoia and some delusional forms of thinking. It is possible that someone who has the disorder begins to “recall” details that never happened at all. It is sad for me to say that because of this the disorder maintains its strong stigma and many people maintain an aversion to any sign of this BPD trait.
Gender and Borderline Personality
BPD affects a great deal of our population but research is still somewhat lacking on the subject. There is very little research about specific populations suffering from BPD such as adolescents and males. Men tend to be a group that BPD research is slowly beginning to study. Even in my local area there are limited opportunities for men with BPD-traits to be studied in clinical trials or teaching university studies. The majority population continues to be females. But after NFL player Brandon Marshall opened up about his diagnosis, researchers began to discuss male BPD more often. Still, however, we have limited videos, articles, research studies, etc. on the topic.
Thankfully, programs at Mclean Hospital (and similar places) offer research, studies, and education on both genders. it is important that we understand the different characteristics of BPD in females and males. Symptoms can look very different. Emotion dysregulation can also look different based on gender. For example, men with BPD often exhibit physically aggressive behaviors, become substance abusers, get into a lot of legal troubles, and engage in high risk behaviors such as driving a car really fast, threatening a violent suicide, or engaging in pushing legal or moral limits. Bipolar disorder can be a misdiagnosis for many males with BPD. Diagnosis for males is often difficult and most are diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, substance abuse disorder, or referred to anger management classes or drug and alcohol services.
Women tend to suffer more with the interpersonal and relational aspects of the illness and tend to struggle more with feelings of abandonment and loss. Although both genders struggle with many of the same symptoms, males struggle in a very different way.
Adolescents and borderline personality
In my experience of treating many teens who cannot (at this time) be diagnosed with BPD, both my male and female adolescent clients suffered with BPD traits that interfered with a great deal of their lives. Not only did they struggle with social relationships, honesty, and fear of being abandoned by friends and peers in school, but they also displayed behaviors that were very self-defeating. For example, adolescents with BPD may engage in back-biting, ostracizing peers, jealous or competitive behaviors, stealing and lying, substance use and abuse, or display an array of complicated relational patterns. It is true that most teens struggle with relationships as they are attempting to develop a more stable view of themselves. But most teens with BPD struggle with this process and may complicated every ounce of their interactions with other people.
Because today’s teens (as a result of a reluctance from the field of psychology to diagnose adolescents with personality disorders) “cannot” be diagnosed with BPD, many acquire a “primary” diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. This so-called primary diagnosis is then “treated” as the main problem when in fact the main problem is BPD. If this doesn’t make sense to you, join the club.
The earlier we can treat the symptoms, the better the prognosis.
Families and Borderline Personality
Many families struggle with the symptoms of BPD and have trouble understanding why their loved one’s emotional responses are disproportionate to the actual situation. Families also question why outbursts of anger and emotional intensity are triggered by minor things. Trying to understand the “why” can take years, even after families develop a working knowledge of the diagnosis. “Things don’t make sense” is a common statement I hear when seeing a family who has an adolescent or adult child with undiagnosed BPD-traits. The main issue for someone diagnosed with BPD is regulating emotions, comprehension of reality, and logical reasoning when emotions get out of control. Some of my client’s families have reported that their 34 year old has unreasonable outbursts like a toddler, even in public. The ability to recognize what is going on inside of the BPD sufferer is very, very difficult at times. I’ve seen many of my families speak to the sufferer as if they are talking to a child who is tantruming. I have also seen families try to reason or use logi with the sufferer only to later find out that their loved one misinterpreted their statements. The sufferer’s ability to see the bigger picture is an uphill climb. The sufferer’s ability to hear love, compassion, and concern is also clouded by intense emotions.
As a therapist who has taken on both adolescents and adults meeting criteria for borderline personality, I would like to share with you what I have shared in my office with families about the disorder. If you are dealing with someone who may have (or has been diagnosed with) BPD,you will want to be sure that you do these 7 things:
- Don’t react emotionally to irrational statements or behaviors: When your loved one is in a tornado where everyone’s statements feel like personal attacks, it’s best to keep your distance and allow your loved one to let off steam. Anything you say during this time will be misconstrued and confused or used against you. Statements such as “you don’t want me,” “you don’t love me,” or “I hate you” are all statements that come from someone who is emotionally out of control and almost seeking validation, through the argument or confrontation, for their internal feelings. If you react negatively, you validate their feelings and risk losing the person. You don’t want to lose them, you want to reach them. Silence is a positive tool during this time when used appropriately. Also, don’t be afraid to invalidate their feelings by challenging their inaccurate statements. If the person says “you don’t love me,” it’s okay to say, “where is the proof for this? Can you give me an example of this?” 10 times out of 10, they won’t be able to give you an example. I’ve had clients say “you are on my parents side” and I’ve used this statement and I’ve seen it trigger introspection and awareness.
- Be mindful of the intense emotional, behavioral, and cognitive dysregulation: In other words, don’t forget that the person struggles with intense episodes of emotion that almost mimics a whirlwind or tornado. The significant dysregulation can be severe and appear as if it is disrupting any progress, logical reasoning, or healing that appeared to be taking place. It’s best if families remind themselves that the illness is powerful and can be triggered at any time by anything, but that this doesn’t always mean that there isn’t progress being made. There will most certainly be ups and downs with this diagnosis. There are periods of calm and periods of chaos. You want to be sure not to become overly positive or overly pessimistic either. You want to remain balanced in your view of the illness. You want to remember that many people with BPD are capable people, but struggle with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dysregulation. This might never go away.
- Don’t reinforce or encourage abusive behaviors: We all have a tendency to want to help those we love or care about when they are feeling emotionally out of control. We want to calm their fears and become the rescuer. When a sufferer with BPD becomes emotionally out of control due to feeling like a need is not being met, their behavior can feel manipulative and controlling if not abusive. Most people run to the rescue of the sufferer in hopes of stopping the storm before it gets started or reducing the intensity of the person’s rage. But this is like giving a baby a pacifier to calm them temporarily. For example, imagine your 16 year old daughter erupting in rage after you tell her she cannot go to a party with college age peers. She begins to scream, curse, and cry, calling you every name in the book. She might also try to triangulate you by calling her father and asking for his input. To calm the storm and gain control, you compromise by letting her know she can go but must take her brother with her. She agrees and stops berating you. You feel relieved but also manipulated. The next time a party occurs the same thing happens but you decide not to give in this time out of guilt for how you reacted in the past. Your daughter not only sneaks out but comes back home drunk. When I sat down with this mother in a family session some years ago, I explained that she had reinforced negative behavior that would now be difficult to undo. Don’t fall into this trap.
- Stay calm and regulate yourself: It’s really easy to fall into the emotional chaos of your loved one when they are out of control. It’s easy to feel just as emotional as they feel. I have called this vicarious emotional reaction. You are vicariously experiencing the other person’s emotions and react in the same level of intensity if not worse than the sufferer. You want to be mindful of your own emotions and constantly check in with yourself to see where you are. I do this with my teen BPD clients who are very emotional at times. I have to ask myself “where are you now?” “Are you getting angry?” “Are you calm?” If I am not calm, I have to take a pause and start over. The only way you can co-regulate the sufferer (help the sufferer control themselves) is by controlling yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to call someone for help: BPD symptoms can get so out of control that the police has to be called or neighbors end up calling the police. If arguments or disagreements are getting out of control, don’t be afraid to initiate a call to the police (as a last resort of course) or suggest a 302 or 201 (voluntary commitment to a hospital). This is one of the most difficult decisions for families to make. Calling the police increases the risk that your loved one will act out and be charged with disorderly conduct, taken to the hospital on a 302, or become even more enraged by you for suggesting a 201. For many of my client’s, I suggest calling a crisis line first or someone in the family or close to the family that can gain some control. A fresh perspective can be helpful.
- Don’t feel guilty for feeling confused about the illness: BPD is an enigma for many families and friends including researchers and therapists. Understanding it can take years of experience and study. I’ve seen my fair share of parents who struggle with their lack of knowledge and even after reading almost everything they can on BPD, they still feel guilty for not knowing something. It is impossible to learn about every single aspect of BPD. The most important things for you to remember are the basics: what the disorder is, what it looks like, and remembering that there are treatments that can help. Don’t burden yourself with unnecessary information or guilt for not knowing. Learn and keep learning.
- Learn how to use a chain-analysis and share with your loved one: A chain analysis is basically a technique for looking at triggers, responses to triggers, and consequences of the responses. For example, the situation with the daughter who wanted to go to a party with her college age peers had a beginning, middle, and end to it. If the mother were to do a chain analysis, she would see that the daughter wanted to go to the party and mom said no (beginning), she became enraged when she couldn’t go (middle), and attempted to manipulate the situation by triangulating her parents and ultimately getting her way (consequence). A chain analysis can help you look at the situation objectively (or fairly) and help your loved one see themselves better. I encourage you to use this technique when your loved one begins to berate you, guilt-trip you, or say you are not fair. A chain-analysis promotes open communication and honesty. It also helps you help your loved one identify when their behaviors lead to negative consequences. Sneaking out of the house and going to a party against mothers wishes (beginning), led to her engaging in negative behaviors with peers too old for her (middle), and getting drunk which could result in legal charges, rape, or other troubles (consequences).
There are many ways to manage and help someone with BPD symptoms. Next week we will discuss some of those ways. Nothing is more powerful than knowledge. Understanding the illness can lead to greater ways of coping with it.
As always, I wish you well