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Monthly Archives

December 2012

Creating a Positive and Civil Workplace: A Cultural Approach to Ending Workplace Harassment

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“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” ~ Steven Covey

“It’s no secret that harassment has a tremendous impact on the workplace. Even when employees don’t necessarily feel harassed themselves, they also suffer from anger, anxiety, discouragement, depression and burnout as witnesses to the behavior. Watching harassment happen, or hearing about it through the grapevine, causes just as much distress and negatively affects work quality and work product. In turn, businesses spend millions of dollars annually in absenteeism and turnover, workers compensation claims due to stress, reduced work product, lower levels of job satisfaction, communication breakdown and even a bad reputation within the community.”

A better civil work environment will lead to a better bottom line for the company. These approaches not only help create a more positive and civil workplace, but also an increase in employee retention and less excuses for sick days. Make it a company employees will want to work for.

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The Key to Collaboration

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There are two reasons people have a hard time collaborating: fear and ego. These reasons manifest into three hurdles to effective collaboration: not thinking the final outcome will be fair, not trusting the people in the group, or putting personal goals before the organization’s.

One way to overcome these problems is to use an us-centered approach. This means instead of focusing on fears and ego, try focusing on yours and others’ needs. It seems so simple yet so elusive – helping someone else get their needs met is hard to do because it could potentially mean we will lose, right? Not necessarily.

To get yours and the others’ needs met you have to listen. Listening is the only way you will have a strong understanding of what the other person wants from the conversation. Once you have a good handle on that information, you can find solutions that will meet both of your needs. Listening will allow you to collaborate – it will allow you to get what you need, and help the other person get what they need.

Further, during collaboration conversations, try using words like “we” and “let’s” instead of “you” and “me.” These words may be just semantics, but they’re enough to tell the other person, and remind you, that you are focused on the us, and not on the individual.

Can Your Body Language Change Your Mood?

By | Civil & Healthy Workplaces | No Comments

body-language

One of the many tips offered in my recent book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-A** Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, suggests that you can use your body language to battle a workplace bully. In summary, the book suggests that when you’re feeling over-powered, you will fold your body in as a way to hide. You’ll likely look down, fold your arms, appear uncomfortable in your facial expressions, and hunch your shoulders. But, if you get in a “battle stance” you’ll not only send the message to others that you are standing up for yourself, you’ll actually feel assertive. A battle stance includes arms on your hips or at your side, toes pointed forward, chin up, constant eye contact, and shoulders back. In theory this sounds like it could work, but does it?

Researcher Hillel Aviezer and his colleagues decided to learn if body language does indeed send a strong message to others. Participants in the study had to guess whether the tennis player they watched in a video had just gained or lost a point. They were divided into three groups: One group watched a video that showed just the face and no body, another saw just the body and no face, and the third saw both the face and the body. Participants who could see the bodies, with or without the face, were much more accurate in guessing whether the tennis player had gained or lost the point – which means that body language is more powerful than facial expressions. Check. Your body language can send a message loud and clear to others.

But will your body language affect how you feel? Researcher Amy Cuddy and colleagues found that just one minute of taking a “power pose” can lower stress, lessen fear, increase the capacity for cognitive function, increase feelings of power, and increase risk-taking. All of the “power poses” used in the study included the chest puffed out and the shoulders back. Indeed, your body language can change how you feel – and make you more assertive.

If you have 20 minutes today, have a look at Amy’s TED Talk.

 

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