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March 29, 2007

How are healthy workplace relationships like healthy marriages?

The Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines a healthy marriage as having two basic characteristics. First, healthy marriages are mutually enriching, and second, both spouses have a deep respect for each other.
It is a mutually satisfying relationship that is beneficial to the husband, wife, and children (if present).
It is a relationship that is committed to ongoing growth, the use of effective communication skills and the use of successful conflict management skills.

Doesn’t this also define healthy workplace relationships, whether provider to client, between coworkers or supervisor to employee?
Respect: an act of giving particular attention, consideration; high or special regard, esteem
Enriching: to make rich or richer especially by the addition of some desirable quality or attribute
Satisfying: to make happy, to give pleasure
Beneficial: conducive to personal or social well-being

And then
committed to ongoing growth,
the use of effective communication skills, and
the use of successful conflict management skills

This can apply to siblings, to other relatives, to really good friends. I like this definition a lot and happened across it while proofing a transcript for an extension project. Think about it, work towards healthy relationships...

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends……
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
---from 1 Corinthians 13, Revised Standard Version Bible

March 25, 2007

Love, What life is all about…

A book by Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998), published in 1972, inspired by the noncredit course Love 1A he taught at the University of Southern California. An examination of human love as the one unifying force of life.

Highlights of Buscaglia’s book in his words

I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate---it’s apathy.

Love is the language for establishing behavior, relationships, action, attitudes, empathy, responsibility, trust, caring, joy and response. There are not kinds of love; there are only degrees of love.

The easiest thing to be in the world is you.

The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position. Only you will be able to discover, realize and develop your uniqueness.

Change is the end result of all true learning. Change involves three things: First, a dissatisfaction with self—a felt void or need; second, a decision to change and third, a conscious dedication to the process of growth—the willful act of making the change, doing something.

To love oneself is to struggle to rediscover and maintain your uniqueness. A great deterrent to love is found in anyone who fears change. Growing, learning and experiencing is change. It will always be exciting, always be fresh and like all things new and changing, never be dull.

The only question we can justly ask of ourselves is, “What can I do?” Perhaps I personally cannot do much about the infant mortality rate or the problems of the aged, but I may give some of my time to making a child’s day or an elderly person’s remaining days on earth more pleasant.

To love others you must love yourself.
You can only give to others what you have yourself. You cannot give what you have not learned and experienced. Since love is not a thing, it is not lost when given. You can offer your love completely to hundreds of people and still retain the same love you had originally. It is like knowledge. The wise man can teach all he knows and when he’s through he’ll still know all that he has taught. But first he must have the knowledge. It would better be said that man “shares” love, as he “shares” knowledge.

The Western culture has been a culture of competitors. If he has a larger home, a more powerful car, a more impressive formal education, he must be a better man. But these are not universal values. There are cultures whose highest adulation goes to the holy man, the teacher, who has spent his lifetime in self-discovery and has nothing of monetary value to show for it. There are cultures who value joy and peace of mind over property and busyness. They hypothesize that since all men must die, whether poor or rich, the only real goal of life is the present joy and the realization of self in joy, not the collection of material things.

To be a lover

requires that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the dedicated, the knowledge of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain.

The perfect love would be one that gives all and expects nothing.

Buscaglia’s love quiz

One of those serendipitous things…a comparable post
Scott Adams on The Dilbert Blog Sunday was The Meaning of Meaning related to The Happiness Formula post on Saturday.

March 22, 2007

How do you know...

if you are the difficult person?

Tough question. Posed by a coworker after she read the most-recent post.

Good assertive people, long-long standing people in your life let you know. Siblings. Spouse. Constant friends. Your kids. Maybe some people in your workplace.

You know after you've asked a coworker for a response, say three times. Too focused, have blinders on, want to finish this project. I generally do it unawares. Forgotten I've asked two times before.

Obviously, there are different degrees of being difficult and frequency of being difficult. I wanted a test. So did my coworker.

Try the Likeability Factor self-assessment

by Tim Sanders, author of ‘The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams’ and ‘Love is the Killer App’, a link in the resources list.

March 18, 2007

Difficult people, take 3

Let’s assume, just for a moment, we ARE the difficult people. You and me.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I can be difficult at times.

So think about “How is it or when is it I contribute to the ‘difficult people’ problem?”
How does my behavior trigger or reinforce this behavior in someone else?
What can I do differently to diffuse this relationship?

There’s a “Difficult People Tips Newsletter”
It’s from Glasgow, Scotland so be ready for spellings such as organisation and behaviour. And words such as whilst (which I think is pretty charming, actually). You’ll get his humor, this from issue No. 1, Exploring your Options: “You might be offered another job or have a major win on the lottery. You get my drift – These are long shots, subject to the Fates.” Another, “Be a little wary of being used as a cannon ball for someone else’s agenda.” The author Steve Quinn suggests we work to control our “behaviour”. By issue 3, which was five weeks after issue 1, he’s on “a fun look” at the 10 bosses from hell. Issue 2 is The Assertiveness Grid.

The tips are focused most often with the boss as the difficult person, but I don’t have a problem adjusting his tips to be other people. The Web site is http://www.difficultpeopletips.com/. Sign up for the free newsletter in the column on the left. Quinn’s credentials are quite interesting; it’s a link below the newsletter sign up.

Energy vampires
This is a column on Ophra.com which gives four ways to deal with energy vampires such as the sob sister, the charmer, the blamer and the drama queen. http://www2.oprah.com/spiritself/lybl/control/ss_lybl_control_13.jhtml

A coworker sent me the Ophra link. Feel free to send me topics or links you think relate to civility in the workplace. I may not use them right away, but eventually suggestions seem to fit.

“We deem those happy who from the experience of life have learnt to bear its ills without being overcome by them.”
--Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology (1875–1961)

Have you heard coworkers talking about book clubs? Book clubs are a good thing because you read books you probably wouldn’t have selected. Instead of dwelling on the difficult people around you, try a book. (Find different difficult people.) Here’s one my book club read last year that is still on the bestseller nonfiction paperback list:
Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World
by Tracy Kidder, biography, 336 pages, published 2003
At the heart of this book is a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too. Paul Farmer is a doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist and anthropologist. In medical school he found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and how a meaningful life can be created.

I wrote down these things from that book that impressed me:
AMCs (Areas of Moral Clarity)
Situations, rare in the world, where what ought to be done seems perfectly clear but the doing is always complicated, always difficult.

“People think we’re unrealistic. They don’t know we’re crazy.”
Jim Yong Kim, MD, Partners in Health, Harvard professor

Paul Farmer biography, Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School

Dealing with difficult people, Nov. 18, 2006
Difficult people....again, Jan. 18, 2007

March 12, 2007

Ethics in the workplace

Giovinella Gonthier in “Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace” suggests discussing ethics in work-related dilemmas. These are some of her examples to start the discussions:
• Expense reports and time reporting not fill out correctly/honestly
• Employees who pass on inside information, or who inadvertently pass on marketing and pricing schemes
• Nepotism issues
• Conflict-of-interest issues
• Stealing office supplies or even a computer for personal use

Ethical culture shows
Gonthier says “Many organizations fail to instill the notion of ethics into the corporate culture. I am often shocked at how little they (employees) understand about the concept.”

“Ethics is not one employee in one department publishing a code of ethics. It is a responsibility given to every employee in the company, but it must be led by top leadership. An ethical culture is one where actions from the top down are met from the bottom up in an all-encompassing process. Ethics then lives and breathes and moves with the organization itself,” says Ira Lipman, Chairman and President of Guardsmark, LLC, principal sponsor of the 2005 National Business Ethics Survey.

Iowa State students learn about workplace ethics
This is just one example, from Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management 287 this semester, based on the text “Essentials of Management” by Andrew J. DuBrin.
Contributing factors to ethical problems
• Individual greed and gluttony
• Desire to maximize self-gain at expense of others
• Organizational atmosphere that condones this behavior
• Pressure from management to achieve goals
• Moral laxity
• Decreasing quality for speed
• Covering up incidents that make an individual or organization look bad
• Deceiving customers
• Lying to a supervisor or group member
• Taking credit for a coworker’s idea
• Copying software

Trust is built on ethics
There’s trust with the public and probably more importantly, trust inside the organization. I am hearted by a just-released Associated Press-Ipsos poll that shows 55 percent of the surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate. Are organizations and companies paying attention?

True, ethics is what’s right and what’s wrong but in times of change, there are new complex situations and dilemmas to consider. It seems to me many ethical dilemmas come down to valuing money and appearances vs. valuing people. Self-serving vs. self-giving. Is that too simple?

We need to think about and have more discussions that include “Let’s think about the ethics of this action”. Remaining ethical is trying to be ethical…every day in all situations...and making ethics an important part of the culture.

“Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.”
Jane Addams, American pacifist, social worker and founder of Hull House in Chicago, one of the first social settlements in North America, Nobel Prize for Peace in 1931 (1860-1935)

Ethics in the Workplace reading
This guidebook is about 20 pages long—really good, particularly “10 Benefits of Managing Ethics in the Workplace”
Free Management Library, Complete Guide to Ethics Management

I’ve found no better or clearer company policy than the Google Code of Conduct which is truly ethics for today’s workplace.

Ethics Resource Center, Survey Documents State of Ethics in the Workplace

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, The Right Way to Do the Right Thing (scroll down a ways to get to the full article)

Iowa State University Professional and Scientific Statement of Ethics

March 04, 2007

What is the intersection between civility and ethics?

That was a comment posed as a question on the Values to love post.

Civility has to do with being a good citizen, a good neighbor.
Civility is derived from the Latin civitas, translated as state, city-state, city, citizenship.
Wikipedia defines civic virtue as the “cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The term civility refers to behavior between persons and groups”.

Ethics deals with morals.
Wikipedia again: “a major branch of philosophy, the study of values and customs of a person or group and covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility.”

The Closer to Truth series
on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) brought together leading scientists, scholars and artists to debate today’s fundamental issues. A segment “Whatever Happened to Ethics and Civility?” appears to have aired in 2000. These excerpts from the transcript of that show:
Moderator: What's the difference between ethics and civility, and why are they important today?

Richard Mouw (president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif., professor of Christian philosophy and ethics): Ethics concerns issues of right and wrong, good and bad, virtue and vice. And civility is subsumed within that. The word "civility" comes from the Latin civitas, for city. To be civil is to know how to get along in the city--how to treat people who are different from you, who have different beliefs or ethnic background. Civility, then, is public politeness, toleration, all the kinds of things that are important to maintain good citizenship and facilitate interactions in the public square.

The religious scholar Martin Marty of the University of Chicago, points out that often people who are civil don't have strong convictions and people who have strong convictions aren't civil. The real challenge is to have convicted civility. We must learn how to engage in that high-level discourse, to treat other people as having value even when we seriously disagree with them. That's the challenge. We need to state our convictions honestly and listen to each other genuinely.

The family meal is a wonderful workshop in civility, where we learn to hang in there with people with whom we're irritated and don't agree.

John McWhorter (professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley): It would help if more people accepted that there are certain issues--abortion being one of them--where unfortunately there will always be fundamental disagreement over fundamental principles. A comfort with agreeing to disagree is something often sadly missing.

A civility and ethics issue on campus now

Iowa State’s Greek Week officials have decided to not be affiliated with the campus blood drive this week.
Blood bank officials say blood supplies are short.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule prohibits men who have had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood.
The American Red Cross and others have lobbied the FDA to make changes in the rule.
Gays at ISU say the FDA rule is outdated because there are new ways to test for HIV.
The FDA says there is a risk in testing the donations and removal of contaminated blood.
In past years, Greek Week awarded points for participation and a trophy to the fraternity or sorority with the highest participation.

Wouldn’t it be civil to donate blood, providing you are eligible under current guidelines, without entering the scientific debate and without expecting the donation to count towards a reward? What do your ethics tell you?

So now what do you think is the intersection between civility and ethics?
Forni, cofounder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, says "Civility belongs in the realm of ethics."
Gonthier in her book 'Rude Awakenings' places ethics as a 'property' of civility.

Transcript of the PBS show: http://www.closertotruth.com/topics/technologysociety/110/110transcript.html

“In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.”
Earl Warren, Governor of California and 14th Chief Justice of the United States (1891-1974)