This beautiful video says it all…no other words are necessary.
The now-iconic photo has since been hailed as a symbol for peaceful demonstrations against police brutality. It has also been likened to photos captured in past civil rights protests as well as one of the takeover in Tienanmen Square in China that captured a man staring down the tank. For Evans, the comparisons give a powerful sense of a purpose.”It means that God has chosen to put me in a position to make a difference, make a change,” Evans said. “It is more than me, it is more than myself. So here I am, I have a responsibility to do something.
Criticism is sometimes treated as a dirty word, but think about two indisputable facts about our lives: nothing is perfect, and the only way to improve something is to find and correct its flaws. Knowing this, we can infer that everything should be open to criticism, and that criticism is necessary if we ever want to improve anything. It may not be fun, to give or receive, but if you want to make things better in your career, your relationships, and your life in general, you have to fight against the stigma of criticism and learn to give it without being negative.
How can you do this?
The second your criticism becomes personal, the events become hostile. Stop this scenario from playing out by removing your focus on the individual (even if your focus is actually on the individual). This is best illustrated with examples. Let’s say you’re working on a team project, and one of your members isn’t delivering his updates on time. Instead of saying, “you’re not good at delivering your updates on time,” reposition the criticism to something like, “I would work more efficiently if I had your updates on time.” This becomes less of an attack on the individual, and more of an unbiased view of the situation as a whole.
One of the most important qualities of effective feedback is specificity. The first part of this “specifying” process is all about identifying what it is you actually want to criticize. For example, if you feel like your work environment is hostile, walking into your boss’s office and claiming “this office is terrible” isn’t going to help anything. Precisely indicate what factors and items rest at the root of your issues. For example, “there’s a lack of efficient communication between supervisors and subordinates” is much more specific, and identifies a key area that needs work. Productive discussion can then take place.
Most of us are used to playing social games where we dance around our true meaning with ambiguity and indirect references. Forget those social minutiae when delivering your criticism–they aren’t going to help you. You may think you’re softening the blow, so to speak, but what you’re really doing is injecting ambiguity to obscure your meaning. Passive-aggressive comments like “some of us prefer to get to work on time” or ambiguous comments like “I think maybe you could stand to plan your morning a little better” bear little meaning, and may even be irritating. Just come out and say it: “your punctuality needs improvement.”
Let your recipient know that you aren’t just trying to put them down; frame the negative elements of your critical feedback with compliments. This is a bit of a psychological trick, preventing the recipient from suffering a blow to her ego, but more importantly, it shows that you’re paying attention to the total picture, not just one element. For example, you might say, “Great work on that project! Your writing was crystal clear. I think it could use a little more research to back up your facts, but overall, it’s on point.”
Criticism without a suggestion is like being a navigator, telling someone they’re headed in the wrong direction, and refusing to tell them which direction is the right one. don’t do this to your recipients. Give them at least a few options for potential development, or they might not take any effort to improve on their own. For example, you could say, “your scope documents sometimes come over as ambiguous. Could you start using a consistent format? Would it help if I came up with a list of questions for you to ask the client?” Offering your own help is always a good thing too.
Human beings are incapable of being objective, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise. Indicating your own subjectivity, and your own proneness to human error, will make you appear more humble, and therefore more sincere in your delivery. It doesn’t take much to imply this–a simple aside is more than enough. For example, you might say, “I’m not an expert on the subject, but I believe your plan is missing a few key details.” Don’t deprecate yourself, but admit a degree of uncertainty unless you’re absolutely sure of yourself.
This is a general best practice that will improve your reputation, but it’s important to acknowledge in the context of giving criticism. If you align yourself to the belief that criticism is necessary and everyone needs it, you need to be able to take it as much as you dish it out. Demonstrate your full commitment to criticism by accepting criticism of your own work. Learning to take criticism is an art in itself, but as long as you make yourself open to it, you’ll set a better standard for your entire team.
It’s a sad fact that most people still take criticism as an insult or as a “bad thing” in general. But if you frame it correctly, even the staunchest opponent will find themselves able to recognize that you’re doing this for their best interests. This doesn’t always make it easy to give or easy to take, but it does produce the best possible scenario for what is, ultimately, a necessary exchange.
ANNA JOHANSSON IS AN i@Number1AnnaJo
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN INC. ON: APR 4, 2016
Most people have the capacity to feel empathy for another person when there is a tragedy such as a plane crash or mass shooting. Some people have the capacity to rise to the occasion and offer a helping hand to someone in need. However, very few people have the ability to mobilize their compassion into the action we call caregiving.
The uncommon ability to be a caregiver is the highest form of generosity. It is a gift and it needs to be honored for the gift that it is. This means that you must respect your caring nature by taking really good care of yourself as well. All too often, caregivers put their own needs last. Granted, this extra effort may be needed on occasion.
Putting yourself last time after time can mutate your awakened heart in a toxic sense of self-sacrifice. Remember, putting your caregiver-self first is an act of selflessness and it is healthy. It allows you to keep your compassionate heart full and ready to serve.
The responsibilities that accompany your role as caregiver can be daunting. There always seems to be a relentless list of things to do, appointments to coordinate, and care to be rendered. You are gifted with a highly evolved sense of the duty, responsibility and loyalty. However, these qualities can channel you into a life of isolation if you resist asking for help.
Asking for help is not a sacrilege. It’s honest. No one, no matter how dedicated or organized, can manage alone. Many folks like yourself resist asking for help because they feel that they do not want to impose on benevolent friends of family. The irony is that these same folks are often trying to find a way to lend a hand without sending the unintended message that you are not doing a good job.
No everyone can do hands-on care but most everyone can do something. I encourage you to investigate support networks such as Share the Care. This non-profit organization trains groups such as family, friend, neighbors, and church members to create Care Circles. The goal is to surround the person in need of care and their primary caregiver with a sense of community and support.
A calendar and task list is set up so that everyone can weave their part of the caring into their daily life. Who does the food shopping? Who transports to the doctor’s appointment and when? Who mows the lawn, etc. I ask you to please consider this option so that you can pace yourself. Remember, caregiving is not a sprint. It is a marathon and it takes a team to keep you in the race.
It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. Without a doubt, this is true. However, the demands and realities of constantly caring for others can often leave you struggling to find a reason to smile let alone laugh. Fatigue is your worst enemy. It can leave wanting to “crash” and be alone during any down time. Please resist this temptation. Yes, the extra effort to get ready for some social time with friends may seem daunting but the payoff is priceless.
Caregiving is what you do not who you are and it is your friend who will keep you connected to the outside world. Friend will often listen and just let you vent without judgement. Friend can show you the exit sign out of your head and your relentless thoughts centered on caregiving and reintroduce you to the rest of your life. Friend can help you keep a perspective on your situation so that the frustrations of caregiving don’t fester into pain and resentment.
Friend can make you laugh until your side ache and you find yourself hoping you don’t wet your pants. In short, they are often your lifeline. So please don’t let go. Socializing may need to me modified. Lunches and matinees may replace dinner and a movie. You may not be able to leave your home, so the party may have to come to you but however you arrange it, stay connected.
So often we torment ourselves with the notion that as soon as you get past this latest hurtle in life, all will be easier. In reality nothing gets easier. No sooner do you exhale from meeting one demand than the next burning issue presents itself. So we hunker down and call upon our endurance to meet the next challenge.Here is where the danger lies, in a caregiver’s endless ability to endure.
You see, we mistake endurance for resilience. Endurance is a coping skill intended to be called upon when things become exceedingly challenging and stressful. Endurance is the ability to deal with unusual pain or suffering and continuing to function. Our ability to endure is intended to be maintained for only a fixed amount of time until a situation is resolved. It was never intended to be used as an everlasting source of fuel for life.
Resilience, however, is the ability to withstand the stress and challenges of life while remaining centered and fresh. Resilience is a healthy reserve of personal fuel that can be accessed to maintain a state of equilibrium, not only to rise up to overcome the crisis of the moment. Resilience is like dropping the engine of your life into second gear so you can maintain speed as you go uphill.
Developing a resilient mindset means understanding you can only thrive in a lifestyle of perpetual generosity, such as a caregiving, when you give from the excess of your energetic fuel tank and not from the fumes. It means that regardless of the demands of a situation, you are addressing that situation from a place of fullness.
The true lesson here is to embrace the fact that choosing a mindset of endurance is choosing only to survive. Choosing a temperament of resilience is embracing living life fully each day. So explore what it takes to develop a resilient nature that is ready, willing and very much able to serve, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that call to care.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lynn Bartos has been a nurse at the Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee for the past 44 years. However, after developing an illness, she became a patient in the hospital, and is being treated by a former patient. Steve Hartman has more.