Understanding Strong, Sometimes Irrational Reactions to Co-Workers and Business Partners

This has been a theme in my practice over the years.  Sometimes a client will come in with what feels like an allergy to their co-worker or business partner.  Sure, their co-worker may display some annoying behaviors, but why are they reacting so intensely? Reactions can include increased stress or anxiety, physical symptoms, anger outbursts, or depression.  What's going on?  

The first step is to assess the current relationship.  Ask yourself questions like:  "Am I reacting to something in the present?"  "Am I being treated respectfully and fairly?" "Does my coworker appear to have a negative, hidden agenda that I'm picking up on?  "Is this environment a good fit for me?"  Now you have a choice to make.  Do the answers to these questions give you more of a sense of clarity, as well as some ideas about how to proceed, or not.  If not, read on.

Step two involves self-assessment.  Good questions to ask yourself are:  "Have you ever felt this way before?"  "Does this person remind you of someone who has strongly influenced you?"  "Does this person remind you of some aspects of yourself that you strongly dislike?"   When reflecting on these questions, try to recall a specific memory or time that feels similar.  Talk to a trusted friend or journal about that experience, person, or unacceptable part of yourself.  Let yourself stew about it for a couple of days and see where it takes you emotionally.  Making sense out of your reactions allows you to take control of your behavior and allows you to make good decisions about how to negotiate future encounters.




Fostering Creativity in the Workplace

How do we foster that creative edge among employees?   

Creative performance and productivity are directly related to the quality of the organizational culture.  A positive culture fosters clear, direct, open communication.  It increases job satisfaction which, in turn, contributes to employee investment and commitment.  

For it to be effective, organizational culture has to be created and maintained from the top, and has to be part of the mission statement of the company.  Employees need to believe they are valued to contribute at a deeper level.  

3 Key Steps:

  1. Fostering Communication:  Communication should be fostered in all directions both formally and informally.  Formal communication policies can include 360 degree performance evaluations, in which employees are also required to give constructive feedback to managers.  Managers can hold "office hours" on a regular basis to encourage drop in work-related conversations.
  2. Identifying and Nurturing Employee Strengths and Interests within the Company. 
  3. Explicitly Rewarding the Behavior You Want To See:  The culture of secrecy around rewards/incentives (raises, bonuses, promotions, etc.) doesn't foster motivation.   It is important to make the link between specific behaviors/outcomes and incentives explicit. Create clear pathways for people to follow, and make individual achievements and rewards public within the company.