Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Values-Based Language

Mr. Mom

Peter Block, a well-known Organization Development guru, made the profound statement, “Change the language; change the world.” He meant the choice of words used and the type of conversation held; not the national language.  This blog is written to convey how the use of outdated terminology by sub-cultures, and organizations, is self-limiting language.*

As cultures change (i.e. the way groups of people behave), so do languages evolve.  Language matches the underlying values of a culture.  Typically, we adapt our verbiage to match our values.  Within an organization, consistency and alignment are necessary; otherwise, organizational values become mere rhetoric and hogwash.  The underscored value here is Egalitarianism (i.e. Equality Orientation).

Three categories of examples are given: 1) Terms already not in use (i.e. Dead Terms), 2) Terms which are petering out (i.e. Dying Terms), and 3) Terms which are outdated and still in current use (i.e. Zombie Terms).

THEN NOW
Stewardess Flight Attendant
Mr. Mom (so 1983) Father/Parent
Mrs. Ms.
Girls Women
People of Color/Non-White Majority
Feminist Egalitarian

 

Dead Terms

Stewardess → Flight Attendant.  The former, i.e. stewardess, is a word that carries a feminine suffix (-ess), which immediately speaks to the importance of emphasizing which gender is providing which service, making the value of Hierarchy more prominent in this word choice.  It also may conjure up memories of how a stewardess had to be of a certain age, appearance, and weight – they would be weighed at work.  The latter, i.e. flight attendant, is gender neutral, thereby incorporating the value of Egalitarianism, because it allows room for flight attendants to be of either sex, any age, weight, appearance, etc.

Mr. Mom → Father.  There is no such thing as “Mr. Mom” or “babysitting” your own children…it’s called “parenting.”  The label Mr. Mom implies that fathers have to take on responsibilities that are not theirs.  It is, otherwise, an outdated notion that the woman must be the caretaker and the man must be the breadwinner.

 

Dying Terms

Mrs. → Ms.   There is no male equivalent for the title “Mrs.” that signals the same meaning.  The title “Mr.” does not convey marital status, whereas “Mrs.” does.  The title Mr. simply indicates an adult male.  The appropriate match would be “Ms.” to indicate an adult female – marital status unknown.  However, there are those women who will vehemently argue for the title of Mrs, because they are more traditionally-minded (read: Hierarchical), and there is nothing wrong with that.  However, much of the newer generations find that title (i.e. Mrs.) a desire to signal to society that “someone bought the cow, instead of getting the milk for free,” and, therefore, being more equality-oriented, consciously elect to use the title Ms. to signal back, what the late Andy Rooney shared, “Women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!”

Girls → Women.  I attended a session where the facilitator said, “The men’s restroom is over there (pointing to the left) and the girls’ restroom is over there (pointing to the right).” People started moving.  I asked quickly, “Where is the women’s restroom?” He didn’t get the point.  Subconsciously, however, we do get the point…so much so, that an unnecessary inferiority complex develops for some and a feeling of subordination develops for others.  Take, for example, the latest statements made by Sydney Leathers who exposed (double entendre) Mayor-hopeful Anthony Weiner: “The part that’s most annoying is that I was 22 years old and in a bad place, but if anyone asked him he would say the same thing about himself, yet he’s an adult.”  Note that Leathers was one year older than the legal drinking age in the USA (i.e. 21 years), yet Weiner is the “adult.”  If we call ourselves “girls” and continue to allowed to be called “girls,” it can impact behavior negatively.

 

Zombie Terms

People of Color**/Non-White → Majority.  Prejudice teaches us to unlearn some of the simple facts of life…white is a color.  Last time I checked my Crayola box, there was a white crayon in there.  Therefore, “People of Color” is redundant,since all people have color, even albinos…White people are not invisible.

As for the term “Non-White,” Peter Block has said, “Since when do we define people by what they are NOT?” For example, do we say, “Females and Non-Females?  Domestic and Non-Domestic?  Brunette and Non-Brunette?”  White is the mainstream culture (i.e. WASP); and numberwise, the rest of the population is the “Majority.”

Feminist → Egalitarian.  What is the male equivalent of Feminist?  Is it Masculinist?  No.  This is because the word itself (i.e. Feminist) is the “Outsider” profile of the “Fighter” &/or “Separatist” (See blog Insider-Outsider Dynamics).  The term is steeped in sexism.  Equal pay for equal work has absolutely nothing to do with femininity.

 

If we are to change the world through our language, it is less effective to focus on asserting what separates us (albeit, another prideful point of distinction) and it is more effective to focus on those values which unite us.  If the value is Egalitarianism, then this is the value we mirror with our language.

Groovy.

 

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a boutique consultancy of OD experts, Corporate Looking Glass.  Please visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.

* Being “Politically Correct” implies the masking of bias.

** The NAACP (i.e. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) are reinforcing visible differences in its title, as opposed to naming sub-cultures by geography – such as, “African-Americans.”  This organization was founded in 1909…making it 105 years old.

 

Sources:

Peter Block, Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business & Management

DrudgeReport.com

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/sausage

http://www.naacp.org/programs/entry/civic-engagement

 ©Rossina Gil, 2014

 

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P2P Revolution

Revolution

Like Johnny Carson who supplied the answer(s) before the question…Peer-to-Peer Services.  Collaborative Consumption.  Collaborative Economy.  Sharing EconomyWhat is so old it’s new?  The bartering system – straight person-to-person business dealing.  The enduring global recession has shocked consumer behaviors into a cultural shift where people want to bypass faceless brands and rely on people.  Technology has facilitated this shift into strengthening buyer-seller relationships by re-introducing “disintermediation,” i.e. the elimination of the middleman.

Customers are now empowered to transact directly. The internet has taught us what the power of sharing and technology can do.  It has shaken up the marketplace so more players are involved – the barrier to entry has been lowered.  It is decentralizing big business and creating more autonomy.  This is what Thomas Friedman wrote about in his book, The World is Flat.  This economic model where underutilized resources are surfaced by a keystroke has resulted in market efficiencies which have birthed new products, services, and stimulates business growth.

 

True Competition

Big business rightly fears that its market share is threatened.  They claim the marketplace is “disrupted” and that their market share is being “stolen” by competitors “evading regulations and breaking the law.”  They do not like that both sides of the marketplace are benefitting from network (i.e. technological and social) effects.  They claim that technological platforms, such as UBER, which introduce Suppliers with End Users are “unfair competition.”  Yet, as Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky points out, “There are no laws written for micro-entrepreneurs.”  So is big business suggesting that government should regulate our garage sales and lemonade stands?  Why don’t we de-regulate the hotel and taxi industries and see how they survive in today’s Social Media landscape?

 

Benefits for P2P

  1. Zero Marginal Cost Model.  It is a distinct Competitive Advantage to have no overhead costs such as office space or staff.  The infinite supply of individuals generates income with personal assets.
  2. Variety.  Consumers are no longer held captive to marketed brands.  Personal alternatives which provide more of a customized match are now available.
  3. Marketing Power.  In the dawn of this new Social Era, the internet has accelerated and democratized producer-supplier abilities by connecting supply with demand.
  4. Network Effect.  Technology platforms offer structure for new brands, such as UBER.  These brands gain value by attracting more suppliers (e.g. drivers), which creates more demand (e.g. passengers who want a ride on-demand).  The trust is fortified by a dual accountability system, where suppliers and consumers rate each other.  Caveat Emptor (i.e. Buyer Beware) is, therefore, less of an issue, when you see that your friends have endorsed a particular business / person.

 

We are living in a Connected Age.  Gen Y/Millennials are moving us from a “Culture of Me” to a “Culture of We.”  A true global community and marketplace.

Vox populi. (Voice of the people).

 

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a boutique consultancy of OD experts, Corporate Looking Glass.  Visit us at CorporateLookingGlass.com.

© Rossina Gil, 2014

Resources:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/airbnb-uber-taxes-regulation

http://firstround.com/article/How-Modern-Marketplaces-Like-Uber-Airbnb-Build-Trust-to-Hit-Liquidity

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2014/05/13/why-uber-and-airbnb-might-be-in-big-trouble/

http://fortune.com/2014/05/28/airbnb-uber-barcelona/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremiah-owyang/how-airbnb-and-uber-could_b_3658400.html

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-sharing-economy-20140519-story.html

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117837/airbnb-uber-wage-war-regulators-army-customers

 

EAP’s  

EAP

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) are the human behavior and/or psychological experts who provide strategic analysis, guidance, and consultation throughout the organization.  The principles of human behavior are applied to enhance organizational performance, culture and business success.  EAP services are a benefit offered typically by larger organizations, which is typically at no cost to the employee, and not frequently used.

 

The Top 5

Here are five main areas in which EAP’s are most commonly used:

  1. Work-Related Stress and Anxiety.  This is a safe zone for employees to vent their frustrations about a boss who has misplaced anger, passive-aggressive colleagues, clients in arrested development, etc.  It is important for employees to release anxiety instead of keeping them pent up; mounting anxiety that leads to burn-out and resignation.  EAP services assist in handling conflict constructively and in teaching stress management.
  2. Balancing Family ResponsibilitiesCaring for a child or an elderly relative accumulatively builds stress onto the caregiver, especially when coupled with a full-time position.  EAP services assist in alleviating the sense of guilt, stress, and obligation by helping the employee articulate his/her values and priorities, and coping with stress.
  3. Financial PressuresCredit card implosion, gambling addiction, foreclosure, children in college, hospital bills, etc, can chip away at an employee’s wellbeing.  Financial wellbeing can be achieved by eliminating debt with slight modifications to behavior.
  4. Weight Management.  America’s #1 New Year’s resolution tends to be to lose weight.  Yet, with the advent of technology, ubiquitous fast/processed food, and the constant celebrations of colleague birthdays, baby/wedding showers, work anniversaries, and happy hours – not to mention long working hours and long commutes – it’s no wonder the corporate waistline is the widest it’s ever been.  One call center reported that they had to purchase a floor-based toilet because the kind affixed to the wall kept getting ripped out by the sheer weight of its call center operators.
  5. Depression.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites that 1 out of 10 adults suffers from depression.  Naturally, any of the above topics can trigger a depression, which will lower productivity and increase absenteeism and short-term disability.  At one organization, two separate colleagues were terminated because they could not keep their depressive moods out of the workplace, due to an impending divorce.* Depression can lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

 

When EAP Therapists Fail 

As a Cross-Cultural and Executive Coach, I have frequently had clients who share the advice they’ve received from their EAP providers.  While many have performed wonderfully supportive and instrumental services for employees and are accredited, there have been several over the years who seem to working their own agenda.  Here are some examples and pitfalls you can avoid:

  • Co-Dependency.  One client received counseling from a therapist for a prolonged period because his family did not accept his sexual orientation.  He and his therapist seemed to have developed a co-dependency.  This may be for the therapist’s personal or financial gain, but if you don’t feel like you are getting the tools you need to be self-sufficient after several months or years, then you may wish to try another therapist.  Double-digit years of counseling, such as he received, is questionable.  RECOMMENDATION: Switch to another counselor who actively works on your self-sufficiency.
  • Triangulation. One client took his wife to a Fortune 50 EAP provider, and the therapist’s own baggage got involved.  When the wife admitted she had contacted her lover, the therapist exclaimed, “How could you lie to us?!”  A counselor is there to facilitate communication; not intensify situations, make accusations, reprimand, and get involved.  RECOMMENDATION: Switch to another counselor who remains neutral and supportive by listening.
  • Unconscious Shrink.  One client suffered from childhood abuse, yet managed to rise to the top echelons of her firm.  Her aggressive manner in the workplace, “victim speak,” and chronic conditions were all signs of an underlying issue.  Her psychologist was somehow unable to pinpoint that my client’s work struggles were directly related to the triggering of self-imposed expectations stemming from the childhood traumas.  RECOMMENDATION: Switch to another counselor who is focused on identifying how to break out of dysfunctional patterns and on how to form functional/effective patterns.
  • Niche Specialty.  One client lost her mom suddenly to an unknown and unidentified heart condition.  She decided to use her free EAP services for grief counseling.  She got someone who specialized in Marriage and Family therapy.  My client felt that after two sessions all she got was the therapist picking apart at her marriage.  The therapist had not addressed the stages of grief.  RECOMMENDATION: Switch to another counselor who specializes in your particular situation (for this example: grief).

 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren (or Plato or Socrates)

Stress does not do a body, nor an organization, good.

 

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  Visit us at CorporateLookingGlass.com.

©Rossina Gil, 2014

*How do I know?  Their bosses told me.

 

Resources:

Cdc.gov

Compsych Corporation

Http://www.benefitspro.com/2012/08/22/top-5-reasons-to-use-an-eap?Page=2

National Business Group on Health

Johari Window

Image

One way to examine our interpersonal communication and relationships is with the Johari Window. The Johari Window is a cognitive psychological tool developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. It is exemplified much like window panes connected with four intersecting quadrants.

Any data that moves from the Blind Spot &/or Mystery (i.e. Unknown to Self) windows into your Open &/or Hidden (i.e. Known to Self) windows would indicate increased self-knowledge – or personal growth. That information makes those window panes larger, which is the goal for personal and professional growth.  Building self-awareness is the No. 1 skill for improving your Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is at the heart of cultivating relationships; business is relationships.

 

Four Panes

The Open window is what is known by others and what you know about yourself. This is what you are willing to share with others. Examples could be information you disclose in a bio.

The Hidden window is what is not known by others, yet what you know about yourself. This is what you are consciously and deliberately trying to hide from others. Examples include relationships, habits, the past, prejudices, etc. Self-disclosure decreases the size of the Hidden window and increases the size of the Open window. This can result in improved interpersonal relationships because the vulnerability you share often creates perception that you are real/human.  Demonstrate that you’ve faced adversity and have overcome it, or that you continue to champion the challenge.  The more authentic you are with others in disclosing your whole self, the more likely they are to trust you, understand you, and value your relationship. Organizationally, off-site retreats are often designed to broaden this window.  It takes risk to open and build trust with others, and many fear that the disclosure will backfire as judgment and/or a misperception of weakness.  This is always a risk.

The Blind Spot window is what is known by others, yet not known to you about yourself. These are messages we unconsciously hide from ourselves, yet they are communicated to others. We learn about these pieces of information when someone offers the “gift” of feedback (however, well or poorly wrapped). This window is expanded organizationally through the proper usage of 360’s, 1:1’s (i.e. one-on-one’s), and coaching.  Receiving feedback can help you move from a Blind Spot window to an Open window.

The Mystery (Unknown) window is what is not known by others and what is not known by you about yourself. These are things in our unconscious that we conceal from ourselves. This concealment is often for a reason: we aren’t ready to accept them, and we are not ready to change, so we don’t think about them. This information can be surfaced through counseling, group therapy, or dreams. Examples include a desire for adventure, “hidden talents,” release of sublimated emotions that contribute to addictions and/or other fears, discovering your purpose in life, etc.

 

Get out the Windex!

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  Visit us at CorporateLookingGlass.com.

© Rossina Gil, 2014