Let’s have it right, at times, it’s easy to cast judgment onto others than it is to move in and understand someone else’s pain or frustrations.
Judgment can be both active – shown by verbal or body language, or withdrawn – internalised and turned inward. Either way, it is damaging and destructive, not only to each party but specifically in organisations it damages productivity and growth. We should never underestimate the power of underneath resentment and the negative impact it can have on a team or indeed an organisation as a whole.
A few months ago one of our newest team members felt under pressure at the new work coming in and getting to grips with developing systems and other new members of the team. At times when I spoke with her, she became defensive and I felt shut out. For me, this brought up feelings of anger which, for me, masked underneath fear. When I feel this I revert back to an early place in my past maybe where I haven’t been heard or been able to have a positive impact on someone’s life. Maybe I felt scared I wasn’t a good enough boss for missing her and not being able to resolve her stress?
For my colleague my wonder was if she feels like she’s getting ‘it’ wrong – it maybe taps into historic feelings of criticism and shame. If so then putting the walls up makes sense. I believe the safe, protective non-judgmental environment I strive to create each day played some part in the great courage she took in expressing her vulnerability in telling me about her anxiety and fear. When she did, my respect for her instantly deepened.
These types of conflicts are part of daily life in the workplace and the vast majority of the time they happen usually out of our awareness.
So how do we handle it? It’s not uncommon for us to Ignore it? Resent it? get others to team up on the other? Put each other down, do less work, sack people or the employee leaves the organisation… the list goes on
Work is a place where it can seem a lot is at stake. The money we earn pays for our houses and puts food on the table, it’s understandable we have a sense of attachment to it and therefore the fear of losing that makes sense. So when we feel scared we can become stressed and we can go to a protective state and try to defend ourselves. The point is we bring our past into the present when we feel scared at work. We go back to how we learned to protect ourselves. In this instance I’m aware of my feelings as with growing self-awareness I have a rule that a stick by:
Whenever a conflict is present and my feelings are evoked, is it my past playing out in the present? A great question to ask.
‘the ONLY way to positively impact the situation is to take an OK step closer to the other’
Coming from someone who’s natural response is to withdraw, I can struggle with this, but I know there is no other positive solution. We sat together and I understood the worry and fear underneath her defence, I was able to express my feelings of anger safely in a non-judgmental way and understand underneath this my fear also. We both grew and understood how our past had been playing out in the present.
From here we contracted that whenever this happens again, we agreed to take an OK step towards each other, when this happens we create a more intimate connection, trust builds, creativity sparks and relationships become unshakable.
Moving in and making authentic non-judgmental contact with another is one of the main keys to unlocking organisational trauma. The repair in a relationship is a reward for courage, often this not only heals but increases the spirits and energy in the whole organisation.
We have to move in, we have to choose contact over contempt every time.
– Paul Howarth – PH7 Group Founder & Director
With the PH7 EAP plan, your employees will have access to 24/7 mental health support line, face-to-face counselling sessions and full digital support with the online health e-hub app.
We can help you to boost your productivity levels and reduce mental health-related sickness in your workplace.
Call the team to find out more 01282 479 929