Archive for March, 2014

Appreciating Enlightened Relationships


It’s easy to get depressed with all the controlling, manipulative and unreliable people in the world.  Sometimes it seems as if disrespectful people turn up everywhere.  But they don’t.

It can be helpful to audit your contact lists and make a special list of the people who are consistently good to interact with. I did this recently and was pleased to see that I had quite a number trustworthy people in my life.  I can rely on these people.  I feel safe with them.

There are the tried and true friends.  We may take each other for granted, but these friends can be counted on for their integrity.   These relationships can be painful at times; we step on each others toes because we are close and we join each other’s unconscious conspiracies.  But ultimately, we have each others’ best interests at heart.

There are a couple of colleagues who have joined me in business ventures, with whom I have had consistently honest, productive and painless relationships.  I must also count the cousin who always takes me seriously.   Then there are the new friends from a women’s group who truly listen to me, respect me and accept me as I am.  I am also beginning to notice an outer circle of people who are not as close but are a steady and positive presence in my life.

What makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

Good fences make good neighbors – and allow us to see where we leave off and the other begins.  Boundaries are critical for respect and the trustworthy person will recognize and respect your boundaries as well as her own.  A person with good boundaries can feel safe and therefore be safe to be aWhat makes people safe to relate to?  They are willing to actively connect with us, be honest with us and they have our best interests at heart.  They may not get it right all the time, but they have been reliable enough that we trust them.

You must be present to win – being present and connected with another is critical for healthy relating.  In order to connect with you, I need empathy to relate to and care about what you think and how your feel.  Empathy is based on listening, watching, and feeling, and is not the projection of the narcissist who assumes you must feel exactly as he does, or the bully who claims to know your motivations better than you do.

Straightforward honesty is important for an enlightened interaction.  When someone is generally honest, we can rely on what they say and do.  We trust them.  I am not referring to the brutal “Your dress is awful,” honesty which diminishes another.  Consistent communication and congruent behavior build trust and the peace that trust brings.  Crazy making double messages are rare with a person who is straightforward and honest.

The person who has your best interests at heart is allowing rather than controlling and interacts in ways that promote your growth.

Cultivating trustworthy people and becoming a trustworthy person are the best antidote to the toxins we pick up in difficult relationships.

Who is the target of bullying on the job? It might not be who you would expect.

shutterstock_176392286People often feel shame about having been bullied, and the stereotype is that the target is weak or a loner.  But it seems that when people get bullied in the workplace, it is because they pose a threat to the bully’s need to have power over others. A weak loner doesn’t pose much of a threat and such a person is not the target of choice for a bully.

The Workplace Bullying Institute ( has researched the phenomenon and has had conversations with thousands of targets.  According to WBI findings, the targets of bullying appear to be the more highly skilled members of the workgroup. In fact, targets tend to be independent people who refuse to be subservient.  And, it is often the targets’ steps to preserve their own dignity, which cause the bullies to escalate their inappropriate control.

Targets of bullies in the workplace appear to be more skilled and better liked than other employees.  They also have more social skills than others in the workgroup.  The target is often the veteran employee who has a desire to help, develop and teach others.  Targets definitely are people with empathy.

Bullies, on the other hand, have less-than-average empathy.  They also do not like to share credit with others.  And with less empathy to get in their way; they have little compunction about stealing credit from targets or interfering with their ability to do their work.

Jobs create stress for a lot of reasons, but certain situations indicate that bullying is the source of stress.  Signs include a getting a new position but receiving no training, or not being given enough time to learn the skills required for the job.  There may be surprise meetings or surprise changes in the locations of meetings.  If the surprise meeting is an ambush to talk about your deficits, you know you are working for a bully.  Often, a bully will throw hindrances in your way that prevent you from doing your job.  Interruptions, conflicting assignments, or failure to get you the tools or information you need in order to do your part of a job happen to everyone, but when they occur consistently, it is likely a sign of bullying.

If others have been warned off working with you, talking with you or socializing with you, a bully is at work.  We all too often take for granted that, “it’s the kiss of death to have lunch with Jones,” but stop and think how mean it is to participate and how risky it is not to participate.  

A more obvious bully may yell and scream at you and then call your objections an attack.  You could be forced to sit and listen to a diatribe of your deficits and be accused of incompetence without hearing any constructive advice for improvement. This humiliation may make you forget that you have often excelled at this work before and make you overlook the fact that the accusations come from someone who could not do your job.

I’ve seen quite a few people experience bullying in the workplace.  They have all been super competent.  They have all been seriously deflated and traumatized by the experience.  Often they go on to earn great respect as a high performer in their next job, and this belies the bully’s accusations.  But by this time, the target has developed cracks in his confidence, stress related symptoms and hyper-vigilance in with the next manager.

If you are targeted by a bully, do not waste a minute worrying that what the bully says is true.  Get feedback from someone who doesn’t have an axe to grind.  There are things you can do to create inner peace and power which will make the bullying less painful.

Remember that as the target of a bully you are probably more skilled and savvy than the norm.  Use that knowledge to buoy up your confidence as you find a civilized place to work.

Use that knowledge and those skills to buoy up your confidence as you find a civilized place to work.remember that is a sign that you are more skilled and savvy than the norm. 


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