An Antidote to Incivility A Guest Post by Christine Porath

Resilience sign with a road background
Resilience sign with a road background

 

When I was 22, I scored what I thought was my dream job. I moved from the snowy Midwest to sunny Florida with a group of fellow former college athletes to help a global athletic brand launch a sports academy. But within two years I and many of my peers had left our jobs.

We had fallen victim to a work culture rife with bullying, rudeness, and other incivility that was set by a dictatorial head of the organization and had trickled down through the ranks. Employees were at best disengaged; at worst they undertook acts of sabotage or released their frustration on family members and friends. By the time I left, many of us were husks of our former selves.

That experience was so formative that I decided to spend my professional life studying workplace incivility—and its costs and remedies. My research has shown that it is almost impossible to be untouched by incivility during one’s career. Over the past 20 years I’ve polled thousands of workers and found that 98% have experienced uncivil behavior and 99% have witnessed it. In 2011 half said they were treated badly at least once a week—up from a quarter in 1998. Rude behavior ranged from outright nastiness and intentional undermining to ignoring people’s opinions to checking e-mail during meetings.

As I and my colleagues at the sports academy discovered, incivility in the workplace drags down performance and takes a personal toll. In laboratory settings I’ve found that simply observing it makes people far less likely to absorb information. Seeing or experiencing rude behavior impairs working (short-term) memory and thus cognitive ability. It has been shown to damage the immune system, put a strain on families, and produce other deleterious effects.

Unfortunately, people’s resilience to incivility is partly out of their control. Research has shown that responses to threat, humiliation, loss, or defeat—all commonly associated with incivility—are significantly influenced by genetic makeup. Perhaps as a result, the most effective way to reduce the costs of incivility in the workplace is to build a culture that rejects it—to adopt “the no asshole rule,” as Robert Sutton calls it in his best-selling book by that name. But very few organizations can comprehensively enforce this rule. So when individuals encounter incivility, what should they do?

My research has uncovered some tactics that anyone can use to minimize the effects of rudeness on performance and well-being. I wish I could have shared these with my younger self as she floundered in a hostile work environment many years ago.

The Usual Responses Often Fall Short

Many people decide to tackle incivility head-on—through either retaliation or direct discussion. Another common response is to try to work around the problem by avoiding the perpetrator as much as possible. Although these approaches can help in certain situations, I don’t usually advise people to take them. Avoidance often falls apart, because sometimes you have no choice but to collaborate with discourteous colleagues. Confrontation can make the dynamic worse. In my surveys I’ve found that more than 85% of people who chose to avoid or confront perpetrators were unsatisfied with how the situation ended or how they handled it, and those who attempted confrontation were no more satisfied than those who didn’t respond. Relying on institutional remedies rarely works either—a mere 15% report being satisfied with how their employers handle incivility. In fairness, organizations often have no opportunity to act: More than half of survey respondents say they don’t report rudeness, largely out of fear or a sense of helplessness.

A Holistic Approach

Just as medicine is shifting from a focus on fighting illness to one on promoting wellness, research in my field—organizational behavior—has begun to discover that working to improve your well-being in the office, rather than trying to change the offender or the corrosive working relationship, is the most effective remedy for incivility.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t report a rude or bullying colleague to HR, or try to manage conflict directly. But a more sustainable way to deal with bad behavior is to make yourself impervious to it—or at least a lot less vulnerable. To do that, it’s helpful to look at what we know about thriving—the psychological state in which a sense of vitality and self-improvement fortifies people against the vicissitudes of life.

Few people are satisfied with how their employers handle incivility.

In my research I have found that thriving people are healthier, more resilient, and better able to focus on their work. They are buffered against distraction, stress, and negativity. In a study of six organizations across industries, employees characterized as high thrivers burned out less than half as often as their peers. They were 52% more confident in themselves and their ability to take control of a situation, and their performance suffered 34% less after an unpleasant incident.

If you’re thriving, you’re less likely to worry about a hit or take it as a personal affront, more immune to the waves of emotion that follow, and more focused on navigating toward your goal. Yet despite these obvious advantages, fewer than half the people I’ve surveyed focus on themselves and work to foster a thriving mentality after a brush with incivility. Rarely do they consider that the antidote might be totally disconnected from the incident at hand.

How can you help yourself thrive? I suggest a two-pronged approach: Take steps to thrive cognitively, which includes growth, momentum, and continual learning; and take steps to thrive affectively, by which I mean feeling healthy and experiencing passion and excitement at work and outside it. These two tactics are often mutually reinforcing—if you have energy, you’re more likely to be motivated to learn, and a sense of growth fuels your vitality. But distinguishing between them can help people recognize in which area they may be lagging and take steps to bolster their defenses for the next hostile encounter.

Thrive Cognitively

If you’ve dealt with a rude colleague, you probably know how hard it can be to get over it. Perhaps no feeling is more difficult to overcome than a sense of injustice. Neuroscientists have shown that memories attached to strong emotions are easier to access and more likely to be replayed, and ruminating on an incident prevents you from putting it behind you. This can cause greater insecurity, lower self-esteem, and a heightened sense of helplessness.

I encourage people to shift their focus to cognitive growth instead. Your conscious brain can think about only so many things at once—far better that it keep busy building new neural connections and laying down new memories.

You can allow yourself to feel hurt or outraged—but for a limited time only. Tina Sung, a vice president at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, shared with me a saying that captures this advice: “You can visit Pity City, but you can’t live there.” I might add that Pity City is a good place to drop off your baggage.

Journaling and other rituals can help bring closure. As David Brooks documents in his new book, The Road to Character,Dwight D. Eisenhower often wrote furious invective in his journal to release negative emotions related to colleagues. He started the habit while working as an aide to the famously tyrannical General Douglas MacArthur.

Once your attention has shifted to more-productive avenues, several steps can help you focus on cognitive growth. First, identify areas for development and actively pursue learning opportunities in them. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have shown that progress is a more powerful motivator in the workplace than even recognition or pay. It can be equally effective in helping employees bounce back from incivility. One young woman working in marketing told me, “A toxic environment was chipping away at my soul.” She saw no quick or easy path out of her position, so she decided to pursue an MBA at night. Events along the way, such as achieving a great GMAT score, provided excitement and confidence. Although her future remained unclear, she became more resilient to her corrosive workplace.

It’s worth noting that these development efforts need not be linked directly to your job. Taking on a new skill, hobby, or sport can have a similar effect. It’s simply harder to be dragged down when you feel on the upswing.

Another way to promote cognitive growth is to work closely with a mentor. Mentors have a knack for helping their protégés thrive by challenging them and ensuring that they don’t stagnate or get caught in an unproductive churn. For example, Lynne, a consultant working in an uncivil environment, built a close relationship with a mentor who urged her to steer clear of any unnecessary drama and focus on her own performance. When Lynne felt that she was slipping into rumination, recrimination, and anger, her mentor reminded her of the toll on her happiness and productivity and pointed her in more-fruitful directions. Following the advice, Lynne was able to dramatically improve her well-being—and her performance, which scored her a promotion.

Thrive Affectively

I find it useful to think of rude behavior in the workplace as an infectious pathogen, like a virus. Your defense against it depends in good measure on how well you are able to manage your energy. In fact, my research suggests that many of the factors that help prevent illness—such as good nutrition, sleep, and stress management—can also help ward off the noxious effects of incivility.

Sleep is particularly important: A lack of it increases your susceptibility to distraction and robs you of self-control; makes you feel less trusting, more hostile, more aggressive, and more threatened even by weak stimuli; and can induce unethical behavior. In short, sleep deprivation (usually defined as getting less than five hours a night) is a recipe for responding poorly to incivility and perhaps even damaging your career.

Exercise is another surefire way to protect yourself against the negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness, that are typically brought on by rude behavior. It enhances both cognitive firepower and mood, distracts you from your concerns, reduces muscle tension, and improves resilience. It has been shown to slash symptoms of anxiety by more than 50%, and in one study it even proved to be more effective at treating depression than sertraline, a leading prescription for the illness. Those who exercise regularly are far less likely to sulk and better able to rebound in the wake of negative interactions.

Maintaining your energy in other ways, such as eating healthfully, will also help put you in top form to respond smoothly to an uncivil encounter. When famished, most people tend to respond to frustration by lashing out.

But it’s not just about caring for your body. Mindfulness—shifting your consciousness to process situations more slowly and thoughtfully and to respond with greater premeditation—can help you maintain your equilibrium in a difficult environment, as can finding a sense of purpose in your job. I and other researchers have discovered that when people are engaged in work they consider meaningful, they are more productive in uncivil teams than their colleagues are. Reminding yourself of nonmonetary attributes that attracted you to your work in the first place may foster gratitude and satisfaction.

Positive relationships within and outside the office also provide an emotional uplift that can directly counterbalance the effects of incivility. Research I conducted with Andrew Parker and Alexandra Gerbasi shows that across industries, organizations, and levels, “de-energizing,” negative relationships have four to seven times as much impact on an employee’s sense of thriving as do energizing, positive ones. In other words, you need a small group of energizers to offset the effects of each jerk. So think about the people in your life who make you laugh and who lift your spirits. Spend more time with them, and ask to be introduced to their friends.

Finally, in studies of MBAs, executive MBAs, and employees, I have found a consistently strong correlation between thriving outside work and resilience to incivility. In a study of people who experienced rudeness, those who flourished in nonwork activities reported 80% better health, 89% greater thriving at work, and 38% more satisfaction with how they had handled the encounter. Seeking leadership roles in the community—particularly if you have no immediate opportunity within your organization—bolsters both cognitive and affective thriving. One executive I interviewed decided to join the board of a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of patients with dup15q, a condition his daughter had inherited. He spearheaded fundraising efforts, helped build scientific interest, and stewarded the group’s finances. These experiences and rewards, he told me, made him feel nearly bulletproof at work.

Incivility exacts a steep price. In extreme cases a job change or relocation may be needed to avoid burnout and to preserve your health and well-being. My research shows that for every eight people who report working in an uncivil environment, approximately one ultimately leaves as a direct result, and, looking back, I know I was right to exit the Florida sports academy. However, when I encounter rude behavior now, I’m better armed to offset its effects. Like everyone else, I’m still a work in progress, and my response is rarely perfect. But I can say with confidence that focusing on a sense of thriving has made me a more engaged, productive, and happy professional. You can be too.

A version of this article appeared in the April 2016 issue (pp.108–111) of Harvard Business Review.

Christine Porath is an associate professor of management at Georgetown University, a coauthor of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace (Grand Central Publishing, forthcoming), and a coauthor of The Cost of Bad Behavior (Portfolio, 2009).

March 20th: Happy International Day of Happiness

New-Intl-Day-Happiness

 

Background

Speaking at the High Level Meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” convened during the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the world “needs a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.

The meeting was convened at an initiative of Bhutan, a country which recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.

The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281PDF document of 12 July 2012 proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.

The United Nations invites Member States, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.

Secretary-General’s Message

This year’s International Day of Happiness is focused on Climate Action for a Happy Planet.

Everyone can be part of our campaign: governments, civic groups, the media and individuals. This year, even cartoon characters have joined in as the United Nations teams up with a group famous for lacking good cheer: the Angry Birds.

These animated ambassadors are helping to raise awareness about the importance of climate action for our common future. You can join them by sharing your own climate actions using the hashtag #AngryBirdsHappyPlanet.

At this time of grave injustices, devastating wars, mass displacement, grinding poverty and other manmade causes of suffering, the International Day of Happiness is a global chance to assert that peace, well-being and joy deserve primacy. It is about more than individual contentment; it is an affirmation that we have a collective responsibility to humanity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our plan to realize a life of dignity for all people. By advancing progress towards the interlinked Sustainable Development Goals, we can help spread happiness and secure peace.

The best way to celebrate this International Day of Happiness is by taking action to alleviate suffering. In this spirit, let us use this occasion to renew a global spirit of solidarity to create a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable future for all.

Documents and Resources

7 Best Traits All Authentic Leaders Have in Common A Guest Post by Adrienne Partridge

personalLeadership_Icon_611

 

You have most likely heard the word authentic used in conjunction with leadership. Is authentic leadership just a buzz phrase or something you should actually care about as you continue to develop yourself as a leader? It is definitely something you should care about and here’s why: Authentic leadership is genuine leadership.

Business growth is more apt to come about with authentic leadership because it is transparent and promotes a growth mindset instead of fixed mindset, while authenticity instills a work culture of personal growth, accountability, and innovation.

Here are seven characteristics that all authentic leaders share:

#1: You know who you are and what you stand for

This is the most important authentic leadership trait because you cannot possess the other 6 characteristics if you do not first know who you are and what you are all about. You, in turn, are are not afraid to be yourself, show yourself, and let your values be known to others.

#2: You transparently interact with others

People know where they stand with you because you are open and honest in your interactions. You don’t say and do things just to please others or to maintain the status quo just to not rock the boat.

#3: You follow your gut

Since you know who you are and what you stand for, you are in-tune with your gut. You listen to what your gut tells you and you do it. But, at the same time you check your gut by listening and absorbing the feedback and opinions of others before you make important decisions.

#4: You adhere to a code of ethics 

Authenticity denotes that you are inherently ethical in your business and personal dealings. Some professions, such as law and medicine have their own code of ethics that you as that professional have to follow.  If your profession does not have an established code of ethics, you have adopted your own and exercise those in everything you do.

#5: Your life’s work is bigger than you 

While your life’s purpose and work is driven by your own personal interest and passion, you are driven by something bigger than you, whether you want to make your employees’ lives better, your goal is to create something to benefit your immediate community, or your product is truly designed to make the world a better place.

#6: Humility 

You have the humility to admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake. You can truly ask for forgiveness when it’s necessary and take steps to make it right again.

You don’t overuse the word sorry, but instead reserve an apology for the most appropriate of circumstances.

#7: You embody the 3 C’s: Compassion, Curiosity, and Courage 

The 3 C’s are: Compassion, Curiosity, and Courage. Since you possess the 6 other characteristics mentioned above, you embody the 3 C’s.

  • Compassion: You are not only compassionate to others, but also you engage in self-compassion. This is an especially important practice when you are faced with your shortcomings as a leader. You are kind to yourself in these moments.
  • Curiosity: You engage with yourself and those you lead from a place of curiosity. When you disagree with a colleague, you are curious about their point of view, instead of judgmental. You are curious as a means by which to understand, not judge.
  • Courage: Self-compassion and curiosity are what allows you to be a courageous leader. When you exhibit your courage and fail, self-compassion is what picks you up and allows you to be courageous again.

Authentic leaders may not exhibit all of these characteristics at the same time because authentic leadership involves developing more tolerance for vulnerability, which is difficult.  As Dr. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of courage.” Authentic leadership is courageous leadership because you have to make yourself vulnerable by showing others who you truly are, which also opens you up for criticism.

Authentic leadership and transparent work culture are one in the same: you cannot have one without the other.  A leader does not suddenly become an authentic leader, just like a work culture doesn’t one day become transparent. Authentic leadership is a constant journey and commitment to your own growth and the growth of something bigger than yourself.

contributor, Inc.com

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18 Signs You Have High Emotional Intelligence A Guest Post by Travis Bradberry

Diagram of emotional intelligence
Diagram of emotional intelligence

 

When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: People with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly-held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success.

Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that we know 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.

Despite the significance of EQ, its intangible nature makes it very difficult to know how much you have and what you can do to improve if you’re lacking. You can always take a scientifically validated test, such as the one that comes with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book.

Unfortunately, quality (scientifically valid) EQ tests aren’t free. So, I’ve analyzed the data from the million-plus people that TalentSmart has tested in order to identify the behaviors that are the hallmarks of a high EQ. What follows are sure signs that you have a high EQ.

1. You have a robust emotional vocabulary.

All people experience emotions, but it is a select few who can accurately identify them as they occur. Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.

People with high EQs master their emotions because they understand them, and they use an extensive vocabulary of feelings to do so. While many people might describe themselves as simply feeling “bad,” emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel “irritable,” “frustrated,” “downtrodden,” or “anxious.” The more specific your word choice, the better insight you have into exactly how you are feeling, what caused it and what you should do about it.

2. You’re curious about people.

It doesn’t matter if they’re introverted or extroverted, emotionally intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. This curiosity is the product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ. The more you care about other people and what they’re going through, the more curiosity you’re going to have about them.

3. You embrace change.

Emotionally intelligent people are flexible and are constantly adapting. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to their success and happiness. They look for change that is lurking just around the corner, and they form a plan of action should these changes occur.

4. You know your strengths and weaknesses.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t just understand emotions; they know what they’re good at and what they’re terrible at. They also know who pushes their buttons and the environments (both situations and people) that enable them to succeed. Having a high EQ means you know your strengths and you know how to lean into them and use them to your full advantage while keeping your weaknesses from holding you back.

5. You’re a good judge of character.

Much of emotional intelligence comes down to social awareness; the ability to read other people, know what they’re about, and understand what they’re going through. Over time, this skill makes you an exceptional judge of character. People are no mystery to you. You know what they’re all about and understand their motivations, even those that lie hidden beneath the surface.

6. You are difficult to offend.

If you have a firm grasp of whom you are, it’s difficult for someone to say or do something that gets your goat. Emotionally intelligent people are self-confident and open-minded, which creates a pretty thick skin. You may even poke fun at yourself or let other people make jokes about you because you are able to mentally draw the line between humor and degradation.

7. You know how to say no (to yourself and others).

Emotional intelligence means knowing how to exert self-control. You delay gratification, and you avoid impulsive action. Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

8. You let go of mistakes.

Emotionally intelligent people distance themselves from their mistakes, but do so without forgetting them. By keeping their mistakes at a safe distance, yet still handy enough to refer to, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success. It takes refined self-awareness to walk this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.

9. You give and expect nothing in return.

When someone gives you something spontaneously, without expecting anything in return, this leaves a powerful impression. For example, you might have an interesting conversation with someone about a book, and when you see them again a month later, you show up with the book in hand. Emotionally intelligent people build strong relationships because they are constantly thinking about others.

10. You don’t hold grudges.

The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress  response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your health.

11. You neutralize toxic people.

Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. High EQ individuals control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person’s standpoint and are able to find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.

12. You don’t seek perfection.

Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know that it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward, excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

13. You appreciate what you have.

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

14. You disconnect.

Taking regular time off the grid is a sign of a high EQ because it helps you to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels. Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment.

15. You limit your caffeine intake.

Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, and adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don’t let it get the better of them.

16. You get enough sleep.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams) so that you wake up alert and clearheaded. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. So, they make sleep a top priority.

17. You stop negative self-talk in its tracks.

The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts in order to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.

18. You won’t let anyone limit your joy.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

 

Originally posted in Success: http://www.success.com/article/18-signs-you-have-high-emotional-intelligence? trk_msg=NQCN05UQ0KQKL11SNQLDK3DCS4&trk_contact=U1IIDO2SRHPR980ID0266PD08K&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.success.com%2Farticle%2F18-signs-you-have-high-emotional-intelligence&utm_campaign=18+Signs+You+Have+High+Emotional+Intelligence

When Being the Caregiver Is Not an Option

Self-Empathy Word Cloud
Self-Empathy word cloud on a white background.

 

According to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are 66 million unpaid adult family caregivers (29% of the adult population in the US) providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. While the number of male caregivers is steadily growing, female caregivers still outnumber their male counterparts two to one.

As the age of the population in the US increases, so is the mean age of caregivers.  In 2012, female family caregivers, on average, were 48 years old and lived alone. They rendered approximately 25 hours of care per week. This is the equivalent to the hours of a part time job. Caregiving is rarely a sprint. It is most often a marathon of planning, adjusting, attending, and doing. Not everyone is capable of staying in the race.

What happens when being a caregiver is not an option? What do you do when your own health, personal and career commitments, or relationship with the person in need of care leave little room for you to take on the added responsibility that comes with the role? Many struggle with this relentless internal conflict and the onslaught of negative emotions that often result in a profound sense of isolation. The comments and judgment from outsiders add your confusion and perhaps toxic sense of self.

What is called for at this crossroad is Self-Compassion. Surprised? You thought that I was going to suggest that you listen to your harsh self-criticism and dig down deep to find a way to be available and accommodating. Actually, I want you to honor your sense of personal limits and not make a commitment when committing to just one more thing could invite undue hardship or risk your health and wellbeing.

Just what is self-compassion? It is responding to yourself (and your situation) with kindness rather than criticism. It is stopping the loop of derogatory self-talk that often takes on the tone we imagine we would hear from some authority figure in our life. Rather, it is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding toward oneself when we are faced with the reality of our human shortcomings, inadequacies, or perceived failures.

Self-compassion is not self-pity and does not perpetuating a sense of being a victim. It offers you the sense of objectivity and control earned by being an adult. Self-compassion is giving yourself the time and space to make a choice that honors your needs as well as the needs of others. Individuals who are self-compassionate are more likely to learn and grow from the challenges in their lives.

Self-compassion provides the foundation for developing personal resilience. It helps us to maintain a healthy prospective when we are bombarded by those on the periphery of the decision. Those who are all too often unwilling to lend a hand but all too free with judgments and rhetoric designed to manipulating you into thinking that you’re the best or only person who can do the caring when others cannot.

So my recommendation is to stay strong.  Honor your understanding of what is best. Do not make a noble sacrifice by ignoring what you intuitively know is right, wrong, healthy or destructive. Respond to the challenge of caregiving with critical thinking rather than judgement clouded by emotion. Put your own oxygen on first.

 

Resources:

  • Share the Care Organization: sharethecare.org
    • A not-for-profit organization that trains groups to create care circles for an individual.
  • Veterans Benefits Administration: http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/
    • This site contains organizational information that can connect the Vet to benefits and services.
  • HOMETEAM: http://join.hometeamcare.com/
    • Find highly rated In-Home care providers
  • Nursing Home Compare: medicare.gov
    • Site designed to help individuals and family shop for the best long-term services in your area.
  • Care Navigators: https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/navigator/
    • Individual/organization trained to help consumers look for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms. These individuals and organizations are required to be unbiased. Their services are free to consumers.

 

The Fearless Caregiver Manifesto A Guest Post by Gary Barg

care for the caregiver

I will fearlessly assess my personal strengths and weaknesses, work diligently to bolster my weaknesses and to graciously recognize my strengths.

I will fearlessly make my voice be heard with regard to my loved ones care and be a strong ally to those professional caregivers committed to caring for my loved one and a fearless shield against those not committed to caring for my loved one.

I will fearlessly not sign or approve anything I do not understand, and will steadfastedly request the information I need until I am satisfied with the explanations.

I will fearlessly ensure that all of the necessary documents are in place in order for my wishes and my loved ones wishes to be met in case of a medical emergency. These will include Durable Medical Powers of Attorney, Wills, Trusts and Living Wills.

I will fearlessly learn all I can about my loved one’s healthcare needs and become an integral member of his or her medical care team.

I will fearlessly seek out other caregivers or care organizations and join an appropriate support group; I realize that there is strength in numbers and will not isolate myself from those who are also caring for their loved ones.

I will fearlessly care for my physical and emotional health as well as I care for my loved one’s, I will recognize the signs of my own exhaustion and depression, and I will allow myself to take respite breaks and to care for myself on a regular basis.

I will fearlessly develop a personal support system of friends and family and remember that others also love my loved one and are willing to help if I let them know what they can do to support my caregiving.

I will fearlessly honor my loved one’s wishes, as I know them to be, unless these wishes endanger their health or mine.

I will fearlessly acknowledge when providing appropriate care for my loved one becomes impossible either because of his or her condition or my own and seek other solutions for my loved one’s caregiving needs.

Incivility & Bullying Within the Profession of Nursing: Is Peace In Our Time Possible?

wooden numbers forming the number 2016 and a heart-shaped chalkb
wooden numbers forming the number 2016 and a heart-shaped chalkboard with some wishes for the new year, such as peace, love and happiness, on a rustic wooden surface

 

I find it frustrating to acknowledge that despite all the work of recent years to implement initiatives aimed at creating healthy and safe workplace environments, that lateral and horizontal hostility still remains within the nursing profession. I think we all hoped that when the idea of Zero Tolerance bloomed into an actual Human Resource policy the darkest days were behind us. Disappointingly, this is not what I hear from my private coaching clients and other professional caregivers across the country. The elephant remains in the room and the reluctance to talk openly about it continues as well.

I do not feel the need to define bullying behavior or outline the toll such shadow behavior takes on individuals. You are all too familiar with it most likely because you have been on the receiving end of it. What I want to shed some light on is the nature and makeup of someone who engages in bullying tactics. Having insight into the mindset of the enemy goes a long way to taking the power away from them and empowering yourself.

First I want to point out that we often use the term Bully to describe a coworker or leader that exhibits uncivil conduct but is not a true bully. Unfortunately, we live in a time where uncivil behavior is celebrated. Just consider some of the popular reality TV programs currently enjoying high ratings let alone the antics demonstrated along the campaign trail of 2016. Engaging in uncivil behavior is the consequence of a low emotional intelligence and an unrefined ability to manage one’s emotions under stress in the workplace. Keep in mind that we are all capable of giving into the needier side of our neurotic selves under pressure.

People who are, at times, uncivil usually have the ability to step outside themselves and reflect on a disagreeable interpersonal exchange and take ownership of their behavior when they cool off or are held responsible and accountable by others. They are also capable of expressing genuine remorse and of taking steps to improve in the future. Bullies do not have that capacity.

Consider the following characteristics of an individual with the neurotic personality disorder known as narcissism. They include but are not limited to:

  • Authoritarian
  • Having a strong need for control
  • A desire to dominate people and situations
  • Perceiving themselves as a special, elite individuals that are deserving of VIP treatment
  • Lacking in empathy toward others
  • Having a tendency to be exploitative of others

 

Now think of someone you work with that is knowingly intimidating and/or cruel; someone who has no desire to consider how their words or behaviors affect others. That’s right! Bullies are narcissists. Investing time and efforts into trying to appeal to their higher nature and grow from coaching sessions or disciplinary actions will prove very frustrating. An individual must first be capable of acknowledging that there is an issue before they can buy into their responsibility to remedy the issue. Narcissists lack the ability to grow from insight and introspection.

Addressing both uncivil and bullying behavior requires a true collaboration between administration, the human resources department and in organizations with collective bargaining agreements, labor. All stakeholders must agree on a unified definition of bullying behavior and a unified approach to bullying conduct. The finish line for tolerating this type of misconduct must be fixed and unaffected by the manipulating skills of the bully.

Managing someone who is given to uncivil behavior is very different than addressing someone with a true bullying mentality. The person given to regular demonstrations of low emotional intelligence must understand that we are now in a time in the industry of healthcare and the profession of nursing when skills and knowledge are not enough to secure your professional future.

The literature demonstrates that the level of one’s emotional intelligence directly correlates with that person’s ability to demonstrate a consistent caring behavior to patients and families as well as own their responsibility to maintain a healthy work environment (McQueen 2004). If these individuals are not willing to grow from in-the-moment feedback, coaching and in-depth discussions during the performance evaluation process then; the conversation must move onto asking if they are in the right working environment.

Unfortunately, the personality of a narcissist does not make them amenable to demonstrating sustained improvement with conventional managerial interventions. In these instances, clear performance improvement plans must be crafted and immediate and sustained improvement demonstrated. The push-back will be relentless but there are very few options.

So my question becomes, if we are not willing to put an end to abusive conduct in the workplace now, when will we be willing? Let us resist getting caught up in finger pointing and complaining about how our inter-professional colleagues may mistreat us. Let us decisively address the issues in our own house first. We must commit now, not later, to peace in our time.

Resources:

  • Bakr M, Safaan S (2012) Emotional intelligence: a key for nurses’ performance. Journal of American Science. 8, 11, 385-393.
  • Benson G, Martin L, Ploeg J et al (2012) Longitudinal study of emotional intelligence, leadership, and caring in undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education. 51, 2, 95-101
  • Codier E, Codier D (2015) A model for emotional intelligence and patient safety. Asia Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing. In Press
  • Codier E, Kooker B, Shoultz J (2008) Measuring the emotional intelligence of clinical staff nurses: an approach for improving the clinical care environment. Nursing Administration Quarterly. 32, 1, 8-14.
  • Holbery N (2015) Emotional intelligence: essential for trauma nursing. International Emergency Nursing. 23, 1, 13-16.
  • McQueen A.C.H. (2004) Emotional intelligence in nursing work: Journal of Advanced Nursing 47(1), 101–108