I don't typically link to a blog written by another, but this topic touches on so many aspects of what we at BDS Insight offer that I felt it was an important link to share. We all know what it is like to deal with a person who seems unable to NOT be rude and aggressive with others. Some individuals seem prone to behaving badly, and the rest of us (what, you don't think I will count myself as someone who could behave badly, do you?!) are sidelined trying to figure out how to get out of the line of fire. A growing body of research is revealing that for some people there is a combination of factors that increase their sensitivity to threat, increase their mental engagement with threat, and decrease their inhibitory systems. Translation? They see more threat, are consumed and concerned by threat to a far greater degree than others (their brains are literally using more energy to deal with rejection and aggression than others) and are more likely to respond negatively once such threats are perceived. The fix?
Seems silly, but early research is showing two factors that make a difference for a specific subset of people: sugar (glucose) and training. Now, before you smack your forehead think about this for one minute. The training they offered was simply engaging the non-dominant hand in routine tasks for 2 weeks. The amount of sugar was only 40-50g. And the effect was clear: for a specific group of people with these factors retaliatory behavior when tested in a lab setting lessened to a significant degree. There are so many additional nuances and details in this series of studies I thought I would share the link for you to dig a bit deeper. I am looking forward to designing trainings around these insights. And you preschool teachers will nod in silent agreement; we all know that a using building blocks and having a lollipop sure are helpful in controlling tantrums! Time to see more fun in the center of our conference tables!
Self Care, Stalling, or Stonewalling? How to work with pauses while avoiding passivity in your collaborative process.
A big draw of the collaborative process in divorce and non-divorce matters has to do with the ability of the parties themselves, rather than courts or other entities, to drive the pace and outcome of the resolution that is reached. The attorneys seek to assist their clients in being transparent, goal directed, and solution focused as the other neutrals serve to inform and contain the data and emotion that can interfere with resolution. For some parties, the pace feels perfect, where the deadlock and impasse from trying to resolve matters independently gives way to small but meaningful decisions that move resolution forward. As a professional seeking to support parties in their efforts to resolve conflict I have observed a pattern of pausing that often frustrates and befuddles both the disputing party and the other professionals working with or on behalf of a client. It can seem difficult to discern whether the delay in decision, information, or meeting scheduling has to do with honest efforts to regroup or whether it represents something less "collaborative". Here are some tips for what distinguishes each of these 3 patterns, and some strategies that are useful for professionals supporting parties involved in a collaborative process.
Self Care: This form of pause often follows emotional or high stakes decisions. Clients engaged in self care pauses probably showed strong emotion (in the form of tears, relief, anger, or fatigue) prior to their withdrawl. They may be proactive in their self-care efforts ("I'm away with rejuvenating with friends for the weekend but I promise I will get back to you by the end of next week") or they may be less clear with you (and themselves) for why they are finding it difficult to find the information that is needed for next steps ("I know I need to contact my benefits administrator about that but every time I sit down to write the email I just feel wiped out"). You can test the waters for whether the pause is related to a need for self care by naming what you see "Have you thought about doing something special to celebrate the hard work you are doing so far?" It may seem silly, but clients can benefit from hearing validation for the work they do to reach agreement and can benefit from being encouraged to celebrate their work even as things remain unresolved. Providing this permission can help shorten some of the delays that can arise when people unconsciously feel entitled to control without being able to articulate their own need for validation.
Stalling: Pauses in the process can unfold for a variety of reasons, but a very common one has to do with feeling paralyzed in a decision making process. Clients who are stalling are usually looking for a signal that will help them feel comfortable with a potential outcome. No one wants to make a bad decision, and so often in the collaborative process one decision has multiple implications. Some clients pause because they do need to see where their quarter is going to end up, but if you have excluded a delay as being tied to specific time related information, there is a high chance that your client is simply having a hard time sticking to a decision. This is where work with a coach familiar with decision making strategies can be useful. Even less sophisticated "pro & con" lists can be useful in this effort. The one I most enjoy with clients are decisional balance sheets which walk the client through how making a change and not making a change are equally momentous in their outcomes.
Stonewalling: While the collaborative process is a self-selected approach, this doesn't mean all parties are equally open to the approach as they may initially believe. Occasionally delays are explicit attempts to manipulate the outcome, punish an opposing party, or retaliate against a professional in the process (I couldn't stand that doctor so I was not about to trust his opinion and let her win with a settlement). For professionals in the process Stonewalling will feel pretty obvious, especially after the 5th unreturned call or wrong tax statement. When it is clear, to you, your client, and the team, it is best to name what you see and allow as honest a conversation as possible to be aired. There are times when all it takes is for some vented emotion to be shared, and other times when side mediation or coaching can resolve the hangup. When this isn't possible all parties are better served by ending or pausing a collaborative process rather than attempting to force conclusion when parties are not invested in settlement.
There is no crystal ball that will always tell you what the inner life of a client or party really is, but there are usually some context clues that can be useful in organizing the best response possible. Validating hard work, encouraging celebrations of small steps, guiding decision making, and naming outright resistance can all go a long way to improving the pace of collaborative processes.
Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP
Collaborative Coach Facilitator, Psychologist
When was the last really great conversation you had? When was the last terrible talk you had?
The chances are pretty good that both happened with the same person, since most of us find we regularly communicate well with only a small handful of people on matters that are close to our hearts. And it is the same person or people that tend to rile us up when we are not feeling that "click" that comes from good connection. When I work with couples seeking to resolve their divorce dispute through collaborative practice, I survey each partner in order to understand their perception of their own and their partners communication style. The goal of collaborative coach facilitation is NOT to reunite the couple and repair the rift that has led them to select divorce (although truth be told some couples have decided against divorce after learning skills from their collaborative coach); rather the goal and the purpose of the information I collect is to better understand the areas of strength and challenge that might impact the couple's ability to directly confront the myriad decisions that lay before them as they disentangle the life they built together. From the simple to the complex, a couple's communication pattern can forecast areas that will prove easy and challenging as they make the decision to dissolve their union.
There are 11 areas that I examine with each partner prior to the start of the collaborative process. Each area represents a communication method that in and of itself predicts very little about potential "hot spots". What can be very revealing however is the pattern of these 11 areas and the ways in which both partners report themselves and their partner's patterns. Knowing that one partner has a habit of leveling while another partner tends to withdraw helps me to shape 5-way meetings so that the information that needs to be heard can be heard in a way- and at a pace- that is most helpful for shared decision making.
Take a look at the list below. What approach do you recognize as your primary approach; which one is your "pet peeve" when selected by your partner? I evaluate my clients using a standardized measure; but you can learn a lot about your particular approach by reviewing and reflecting on these for yourself. And, if you happen to be in the middle of a conflict with someone with whom a long-term connection is necessary, consider what changes you might make to help decrease the negative conflict and open up productive dialogue. We can't control others, but there is a lot we can do to select a different pattern for ourselves.
Leveling:Being Open, honest, and clear about your thoughts and feelings
Emotional Expressiveness: Being comfortable with expressing and expressions of emotions and affection.
Validation: Acknowledging and giving full credit and value to another's experience and perceptions.
Love and Affection: Expressing and being comfortable with expressions of love and affection.
Editing: Leaving out thoughts, feelings, or information in order to shield your partner, or yourself from your partner's reaction.
Negative Escalation: Adding negative statement upon negative statement and increasing the degree of conflict
Negativity: Finding problems and blame with every statement or suggestion offered by partner.
Feedback: Asking questions about your partner's position in order to better understand their statement.
Stop Actions: Stopping conversations when conflict has gotten heated and agreeing to return to the topic once calmer.
Focusing: Maintaining the dialogue on the single topic that is being addressed and preventing the conflict from spreading to other tangential topics.
Withdrawl: Refusing to engage on a topic and ceasing dialogue and interaction.
(adapted from Allerano & Markman, 2006)
When was the last time life called on you to be lovingly and patiently accepting of imperfection? How good were you at answering that call? I bet it depends on who was on the other end, and how long that particular phone was ringing.
Compassion is a quality that is gaining new attention because it seems to sit at the heart of so many human experiences and its presence, or absence, can tell us a lot about what might follow.
In crisis, compassion can be the quality that assists a first responder in dealing professionally with a suspect. Doing so may allow more successful prosecution, and ultimately the justice that a more adversarial response may have garnered. Compassion for the crisis survivor goes another way too; when we can see our own actions in a compassionate light we have a better time coping with the emotions and guilt that frequently arise as a result of traumatic events.
In relationships, compassion is the skill that gives us pause when we are feeling most frustrated at our partner or child. Just as most healthy people would not fault a dog for wanting to sniff the ground, compassion allows us not to fault our partner for sometimes being selfish, sometimes not listening, sometimes not following through. When we respond with compassion we elicit the type of relational response we were craving to begin with.
When we try to connect across divides, be they class, gender, or race; compassion helps us to develop awareness and understanding of our own and others biases, which in turn helps us to select different responses than we might otherwise have generated.
Looking at relationship and stress response outcomes, those with higher self-compassion often report more positive outcomes. There is truly something powerful about the ability to see imperfection and tolerate and embrace it anyway.
You can turn compassion into a powerful tool for yourself, and the more you try it, the greater the rewards. Compassion is a quality that can be cultivated. Small steps to increase your awareness and acceptance of imperfection, in the environment, yourself and other people, can result in big gains in areas of decreased stress, increased productivity, and increased positive interactions. Think about how much energy and time you would save when you stopped trying to change things that can not be changed and instead moved into where things are as they are. Curious about how self-compassionate you are with your own imperfections, Dr. Neff has a useful tool I use in my coaching practice and in areas of my research. Her copy for the general public can be found here. She also has a great book you may want to read.
Compassion doesn't mean lack of excellence or surrender. Progress can happen even when imperfection is tolerated and social science research, and your own memories of loved ones who guided you, confirm that progress is more durable, more fun, and more contagious when true understanding and concern has directed it forward.
I was thinking once again about the many service offerings BDSinsight has and it struck me one day after sitting behind an older driver (who lacked my sense of urgency when responding to a green light) how compassion is a thread that runs through each of the areas we serve. Culture and diversity, crisis, and conflict management are all enhanced when we can bring compassion. Here are some great TED talks that share lessons learned by others about compassion's role.
This is the inaugural post of my new website. In a few more days I will enter my prior posts into the archive. If you have been reading along you may have noticed that my posts have focused on a variety of human resource topics. From time to time they also shared thoughts on current events, in my life or in the news. It was nice getting an audience, and the blog helped me open some other writing opportunities for myself. I will keep blogging. But this entry, and this new site, represent a narrowing of focus and a clarification of my mission and vision for BDS Insight.
I am not an organizational psychologist that can help a hi tech company recruit and select talent.
I can do that, but it isn't where my passion rests. And that was the lesson of the past year and a half of finding my way to my mission.
If you have had a chance to poke around my new site you have no doubt noticed a number of service offerings. To some it may seem there is little in common in these threads. Culture and diversity, on-site trauma response, coaching and training, and collaborative law facilitation. It hardly seems my focus has narrowed. But the common thread in these is me. My background, talents, interests, and experiences are all represented in these practice areas. Over the past 18 months I have clarified and credentialed myself to deliver these services well.
In the recent words of Dustin Pedroia "I don't have to do everything I do. It's just that I like it."
And like it I do, but also I have lived it, learned from it, and listened to or lectured about it over the past many years in such a way that this feels like the right time and the right way to bring these parts together.
I know a lot about helping people through hard times.
I know a lot about setting goals and knocking them out of the park.
I know a lot about getting people who don't agree, to find ways of agreeing.
I know a lot about how important people are, and how easy it is to miss what is important to them because of blindspots and uncertainty.
I hope you will think of BDS Insight when you or a company you know needs insightful, smart, well-grounded, and science driven support for issues related to crisis, culture, or conflict resolution.
If you are a C-Suite-er looking to rise, an A-lister looking for perspective, or a First Responder exhausted from your work, I hope you'll call me for some coaching support and strategies to sustain your passion.
If you are a couple seeking a different kind of divorce, or a company attempting to settle without litigation but with advocates, I hope you will make use of my collaborative coaching services.
Call this a refresh, rebrand, or pivot; to me it just feels like a perfect fit. Looking forward to our future work together.
This week it seemed my news feeds were advertising the latest stories about happiness, tips, tricks, and how to’s. It didn’t matter if the source of the information was from a business journal, a relationship columnist, or a parenting forum; the hot headlines were each shouting about the latest research, anecdote, or personal journey to achieving lasting happiness. One columnist quipped that workers who were happiest were the ones doing the least amount of work, while a marriage counselor released research to suggest that happy couples have fewer episodes of forgotten kindnesses shared between them. And how can you escape the battering-ram of happiness when it comes to children? This past weekend was a celebration of Easter for many, Christians and seculars alike, with toothy smiles of overflowing baskets and chocolate bunnies missing ears. All around us we get fed stories of the centrality of happiness to our relational and occupational existence.
While I sure like feeling happy, happiness isn’t the point. If you are basing your company’s, you own, or your marriage’s success on a measure of happiness you are absolutely going to be disappointed. And the level of disappointment is not a predictor of your future happiness, but it is an indication of how well you will weather the ups and downs that lay ahead.
Want your work, relationship, company, or kid to turn out great? Focus on purpose and meaning instead of happiness. When we experience a sense of importance in what we do and who we spend our time with, we are not only more likely to spend our time doing or being with those tasks or people, we are more likely to be better at it, create more pleasurable experiences for others, and basically be more pleasant to be around. If we worked harder to help our children think about their experiences from a meaning-based perspective, instead of a function-based one (wasn’t that fun?), we would do much to create resilience in them when they face challenges that are not easily conquered.
I have recently seen the intersection of these ideas come to the fore as I dig deeper into an emerging area of law. Collaborative Practice is the process of two (or more) parties agreeing to forgo litigation in favor of jointly creating a resolution. The parties are represented by counsel, and the process is facilitated by a specially trained coach facilitator who has both a mental health and mediation background. The coach’s role is to handle the emotional labor involved in helping the parties identify their needs and move towards a resolution that best meets their shared interests. Collaborative law is seeing a surge of interest in family law matters, due in no small part to the very lengthy hearing process and collateral damage associated with litigated divorces. In civil disputes there is a rich history of success for collaborative law, but fewer seem aware of its power as a tool for change.
In seeking to resolve disputes, happiness as an end goal is usually a non-starter. There has been a long history of hurt and bitter feelings, and parties often wish separation rather than union as they work through a collaborative process. But flipping this desire into a goal of feeling valued, feeling heard, and leaving a lasting impression of one’s commitment or integrity may make the two parties more likely to come to agreement because of a shared vision.
Last week’s unfortunate unfolding of Adria Richards’ tweet heard ’round-the-dev-world and this week’s responses to gaming leaders stepping down in response to sexist party events underscores that workplaces are once again facing the strains between status quo and inclusivity. These efforts to frame distance and dispute from a meaning-based, rather than happiness-based, space may result in more human, and humane, responses to each other and to our roles and responsibilities.
I’m really not against having fun! But in the spaces where my work is conducted: leadership coaching, collaborative law process, and company culture and inclusivity, I far too often see the cost of focusing almost exclusively on “happy” to the detriment of “fufilled”. You can click on a lot of recent headlines to learn tricks to happiness, but you will need an endless loop of headlines to hold onto that feeling once achieved. Instead, look to create a map to meaning and your search efforts are likely to be less exhausting and more rewarding than you (or your company, partner, or child) felt possible.
Want to read more?
Petersen, Park, & Seligman (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies.6:25 41
It’s 11pm, the client presentation is at 10am tomorrow, and your team is still stuck on which target to lead with. There are clear pros and cons to both strategies, and the stakes for missing the mark are high as you close out the quarter. What is the best course of action for you to advise at this point? A)Play a quick game of chess to see what percolates B)Call a loved one and check in with how they are doing C) Watch the nightly news and reconvene in an hour or D)complete a tangles puzzle and get together in the morning?
If you answered D because you think creativity requires stimulation you are wrong, but you selected the best answer anyway! Turns out that having a break from problem solving actually increases performance, but what you spend the break doing matters. How so? Recent research supports the use of “mind wandering” tasks to promote creative problem solving. While A-C represent mental breaks, none of them could be described as mind wandering. The game of chess requires mental engagement and focus to be done well, the family call opens doors to emotional conflict and this can interfere with creativity, while the nightly news combines these scenarios in that there may be emotional and personally relevant information to process from the news report while at the same time those things that are not particularly personal may require a greater degree of cognitive engagement to understand. It is only answer option D that provides a target for mental effort in the form of a low stakes puzzle without the risk of emotional engagement. The combination appears to be powerful in leaving our minds open for problem solving below our conscious awareness. Baird and his colleagues at UC Santa Barbara investigated this in a college sample provided the “unusual use” task. If you have ever attended a creative kids program you have probably completed this familiar task: name as many uses as possible for the following item… Participant’s in their research were provided this task and then given one of four experimental conditions. One group engaged in a series of arithmetic calculations, one group went from this task immediately into the task again, one group was allowed to rest, and one group engaged in an undemanding task. It was the final group, those that engaged in an undemanding task, that had the most responses in the second round of the UUT procedure.
What does this mean for you? If you can’t set up a home laboratory for yourself to perform undemanding tasks how can you improve your own problem solving abilities? Turns out Baird and his colleagues identified an important component of the undemanding task that might be more easily replicated at home: the degree to which your mind wanders during the task is the key to increasing creative performance following the task.
So, whether its tangles, word find, Sudoku, or mandalas you can increase your creative output by taking a break and performing an activity that is low in cognitive effort but more engaging then simply resting. Find your mind wandering and that’s an indication that you are on your way to creative solutions.
Baird, Smallwood, Mrazek, Kam, Franklin & Schooler (2012) Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative IncubationPsychological Science 0956797612446024, first published on August 31, 2012 doi:10.1177/0956797612446024
It has been many years since I have had to listen to detailed stories of trauma. In my research and clinical practice things have moved along in such a way as to remove me from much of the crisis and direct service work into a greater level of administration and management. So when I attended a conference recently wherein I learned some innovative ways of working with staff who have high rates of burnout I had an experience that reminded me the power of having skills, even when you don’t need them in your everyday work.
Having signed up for all the organizational related topics I was a bit unprepared for the impact of the video used to demonstrate a realistic job preview (RJP) for a child protection worker position. For the rest of the day, as I learned about how to use content mapping to evaluate mission oriented training I couldn’t stop thinking of some of the troubling details of child abuse shared during the RJP video. I was having trouble staying in the moment, distancing from negative emotion, being patient with myself as I processed the emotion that needed to be processed. After all, the details were true, had really happened to real children, and could not be ignored. In short, I was having a hard time using the techniques I had advocated others use for the past decade and a half.
While I was busy learning new techniques in RJP and content mapping what I really needed was a refresh in mindfulness and emotion regulation training. And eventually with time, perspective, lots of exercise (which resulted in this stunning Triathalon Finish!), I was able to get the desired perspective I needed. It didn’t happen within the day of the conference, and it did take up more space in my head than I wanted it to for more time than I wanted it to. What it didn’t do is paralyze me, make me unable to tolerate reminders, or continue finding joy in the simple things. And this is the point, isn’t it, of learning skills throughout our careers? We may not utilize all the skills in our day to day, and we might not acquire them for our own benefit. We may have learned them intending only to share or train others in them and yet, when we need them, there they can be found. Ready, able to be accesed, and resulting in tangible differences in our ability to do the main tasks of our role.
It is worth taking stock of the skills we have picked up along the way and to determine whether we have empowered those we lead with similar tools. We may not see them using the tools in their day to day, but when most needed they could be there ready and waiting.
Besides the links above, you may want to read up on RJP. If you need help with these, or other talent development needs, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Effects of Realistic Job Previews on Multiple Organizational Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis Jean M. PhillipsThe Academy of Management Journal
Vol. 41, No. 6 (Dec., 1998), pp. 673-690
The goal to expand US exports has apparently been successful and you might be finding it is time to allocate some human resources within your organization to establishing a presence in the communities that are emerging markets for your company. Whether the distance is great or small there are likely to be challenges for the organization that are both practical and philosophical. If you have to schedule a phone call, whose time table should you use if there are time differences? How much does it matter what experience an employee has with a new cultural environment? What role does the organization have in preparing an employee for a relocation?
These issues are not the exclusive concern of well established institutions, although they tend to have some successful models worth noting. Rather, these are concerns relevant to even the smallest start up operation if there is a plan to do business with those who differ in location, background, language spoken, or country. And, really, isn’t that all start up operations? The goal of every business is growth and by now we are aware the growth often won’t be confined by national borders or boundaries. If you are about to send a salesperson or plant manager out into the wider world what can you do to prepare them and your organization for this challenge?
1)Where is “over there” (place)? Where is “back there”?
For some companies expansion will mean travel to Europe, Latin America, the Middle and Far East. For others it may be a trip within North America. The length of time for an employee stay and the depth of your organization’s presence (office, relocation packages vs. long term hotel) may vary. What you may ask of your employees in this context is likely to vary as well based on the task and role demands. A salesperson may be charged with a very different set of demands than a branch manager. Knowing and understanding not only where they are heading, but what is unique about the place they are departing from is essential to being effective in these environments.
2)Identify if they are checking in, visiting or staying.
Visitors, no matter how frequent, will be perceived differently from residents (no matter how brief the move). Callers will be seen again as entirely different from these other categories. If you intend for a team of implementers who are operating abroad while responding to a manager operating within your home base you will need to be mindful of what role status you want your manager to have. Is it right to be managed by remote, do you benefit from the investment of on the ground face to face time? What gets lost without this investment?
If an employee is ‘staying’ there are multiple considerations to prepare. One will be how communication will be managed between the host and the home base stations. Understanding and building into the process a format and rhythm to communication channels can help alleviate the frustration and alienation that can beset those who are working abroad. Another concern will be preparing the employee for cultural exchange. While the agenda of the company will be measured in sales, or productivity, or other tangibles there will need to also be respect for the non-tangible exchange that will occur as well. Sharing insights into the “American” or “Texan” or “East Coast” way of doing things is a valuable exchange that will contribute to the bond the host country employees, customers, or partners will feel towards your employee and your company. A simple strategy to use in preparing a traveling employee is to have them think about what items represent your company culture well and to find ways to share these with the host community while sharing the host community artifacts with the company. If nothing else it becomes a point of commonality with which to begin conversations between the host and home bases. Of course, you will also need to know how such items are received in the host environment. Bringing pork rinds to a mostly Muslim or Jewish community isn’t likely to engender warm feelings no matter how well that represents your corporate culture.
3) identify the main values of the host location.
The host location may place an emphasis on efficiency, directness, and self effacement (see Globe Project’s leadership reports on Germany) or may prefer warmth, relationship, and trust as priorities in exchanges. This type of knowledge can be deciphered from the communication history with members of the host location, from studying history and culture relevant to the location, and from research on cross cultural differences. Using this knowledge will assist the employee in developing an approach to their interactions that will likely be more effective at obtaining the long term goal of organizational growth, impact, and success.
Cultural competence is a process and a company has a choice to make the investment in the process. Doing so is an excellent investment. Training and coaching can assist, as can a detailed organizational plan. We can offer guidance if you find yourself in need.
A colleague of mine was recently given feedback about their job performance and was informed that they “care too much”. Doesn’t really seem like much of a criticism; and if anything seems more like an indication of the low standards their workplace has for committment. Following this feedback my colleague went on a pre-planned long weekend and played with animals, visited good friends, ran a few road races and came back to work with a bit of perspective.
Is job involvement such a bad thing? Can there be such a thing as too much? A recentreview of the available information regarding job detachment- one’s ability to leave work at work and to mentally disengage with work while away from it- suggest that there are individual and institutional benefits for employees (and employers) who can successfully disengage from their work.
Individual benefits for the employee range from decreased psychological distress, less burnout, and greater job satisfaction once back at work. Institutional benefits for employers whose staff can become disengaged include increased worker proactive behavior – when a worker can forsee a challenge and preemptively engage in problem solving. Not surprisingly Sonnentag et al.’s review also highlights the u-shaped Yerkes-Dowdson phenomenon: too much disengagement and your likely to not care enough about work at all; too little and the benefits won’t translate.
A lot of disruptive companies will tout the 24/7 work ethic their employees have in their work. This ethic seems to translate into availability and commitment that other organizations can’t carry. Sonnentag’s findings suggest that not encouraging true breaks from work, wether it be overnight, over a weekend, or during a work day, will only hurt employee satisfaction, prodcutivity, and retention over the long haul. Is there anyway to have it both ways; an engaged and committed workforce that unplug fully so as to restore themselves in time for the next round?
Turns out there are some ways to cultivate this seemingly impossible contrast.
Not surprisingly culture matters; explicit messages about the expectations of employee off duty time and peer support for disconnection after hours can assist employees in setting more clear boundaries between work and play.
Absorbing activities can be fostered within the work enviroment or encouraged out of office. If you want to be sure your staff stops checking their emails or messages encourage them to engage in some physically or creatively demanding task on regular bases. A pick up game of basketball, a yoga class, an art collaborative can all be useful tools to signal the appropriateness of turning off periodically.
Once upon a time there was a debate about the burden vs. benefit of having workers who also juggled other roles (moonlighting, volunteer, parenting). Sonnentag’s review suggests that while work pressures can bleed over into other roles there is a value for the worker in assuming other roles as this may allow them to more clearly disconnect and return more engaged and effective.
If you are wondering how you might give yourself the psychological permission necessary to reap the benefits of job detachment for yourself you might try some strategies that have worked for others.
Disengage the smartphone. Putting it aside is not enough; find a space to place it far from view for at least an (awake) hour each day. Giving yourself the evening off is even better, as Sonnentag details in her review. And if you can’t disconnect every evening be sure to build in permissible off duty time slots into the week. Research shows your likely to be engaged and effective if you allow the downtime.
Immerse yourself in an engaging environment (Sonnentag calls it “fascination” inducing wherein effortless attention is possible). Wide open spaces or creatively rich environments facilitate detachment by drawing your attention to the present moment. It may be helpful to place cues in the areas where you are most likely to be drawn back into work mode that will help anchor your attention where you need it to be for a break.
A real trick? When you are feeling most pressured and overworked may be the most essential time to engage in these activities. If you are finding yourself over scheduled and drained it may pay unexpected dividends if you visit the museum or go for a hike in the midst of these times. The time away will recharge your focus in meaningful ways and may make it possible for you to execute priorities upon your return.
Seems like a good time to take my own advice and immerse myself into some long awaited Mad Men premier!
Sonnentag, S. (2012) Psychological detachment from work during leisure time: The benefits of mentally disengaging from work.Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(2), p114-118.
Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor, Entrepreneur, and Diversity Columnist.
All entries posted and archived on this blog are subject to all rights reserved,
Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP, 2011-2014