Posts Tagged Communication
August 2017: Environmental Wellbeing and Communication
Welcome to the August issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. August’s focus on the environment usually immediately goes to the fate of our world in regards to pollution and recycling. However, this month we hope you will consider how your environment relates to communication. Take a moment to listen to your surroundings (environment) and ask yourself what does it say to you, and in turn what do you say back either verbally or with your actions? This two-way interaction is happening everyday whether we are aware of it or not, and it is important to understand this connection when considering your environmental wellbeing. Every person, animal, and plant communicates and each respective environment is effected by how these entities interact with each other and their surroundings. Keep in mind communication can be passive or active; think about talking versus subconscious body language. Both can be equally effective depending on the situation.
For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below or view our latest infographic on the importance of communication. Always feel free to print these resources and post them around if you feel they would be helpful.
On MINESblog July was a great month to be talking about mindfulness, wellbeing, and reducing stress. First, we took a moment to use “National Father/Daughter Take a Walk Day” to highlight the importance of communicating with the people you love. We celebrated “Toss Away the Could Haves and Should Haves Day” with a post to help you let go of the past and move forward. Next, we wrapped up with two more posts; one about the MINES Health Champion designation from the American Diabetes Association to help boost awareness of the disease and provide some resources around how others can help the cause. Finally we wrapped up the month with a post about the cultural nuances of Emojis in honor of communication and National Emoji day.
As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. To be notified when we post more resources and articles make sure to subscribe to MINESblog. See you next month!
To your total wellbeing,
The MINES Team
The Path: How do we communicate about our environmental wellbeing?
You can improve your environmental wellbeing and general health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments, according to SAMHSA. Your environment includes those external factors that influence the other seven areas of your wellbeing (emotional, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual). So, as we look at how you can commune with your environment, we are looking at how you deal with those external factors. Are you able to verbalize how you are feeling in regards to your emotional state? Are you able to communicate to your loved ones about how you are planning your will and estate? Are you able be in your work environment and succeed, or is there something that would make it better for your overall wellbeing? If you are struggling with any of these, take a moment this month to consider how you can fix that. Is there a conversation you can have with someone or a proposal you can present to your work to increase your environmental wellbeing? Or does your body language convey something that it shouldn’t? What a great time of year to get outside and enjoy the weather, and ponder these things!
For example, here are some great reminders of how to improve your environmental awareness and therefore your environmental wellbeing.
|Tips for you:
There is so much more to communications than the spoken word, in fact, over 60 percent of your message is communicated without words. Check out this month’s webinar to learn about non-verbal communication, communication channels through social media, and perceptions of communication through one’s appearance.
The Connection: Get Involved
Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community. We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.
|Community Wellbeing Resources:
This month enhance your communication and community by working together for the benefit of the environment. It’s a win/win!
We’re happy to announce that PersonalAdvantage, an online benefit available through MINES, has been redesigned and is better than ever. It still has tons of the same great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and assistance for Estate Planning, and now has a new look, easier navigation, and works great on mobile too. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer or email us and we’ll be happy to provide that to you.
|If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.|
|MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication. MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!|
Emotional Intelligence, or EI, is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself (Wikipedia). We all have different levels of EI. Some of us are emotional geniuses who are incredibly gifted at assessing, identifying, interpreting, and acting upon emotions. Others have low Emotional Intelligence and have difficulty understanding the precise reason they feel anxious or they don’t know the best way to deal with a stressful situation. Most of us are in the middle somewhere and can maybe understand how to work through issues with co-workers but could use some help in learning the best approaches to what bothers us personally. But for all of us, we can actively seek to improve our emotional intelligence by understanding what is causing our emotions and by practicing techniques to help improve our responses. There are several resources available online and there are many great books on the subject as well. In order to achieve a higher level of emotional intelligence, work at it every day and practice techniques for better communication with your peers, coworkers, and family. If you are curious how your Emotional Intelligence currently rates there is a short quiz available for free at:
Manager, Business Development
When tempers are rising, it can sometimes be difficult to spend time really communicating with family members during disagreements. However, when we listen to our partners and children during times of conflict we let them know that their opinion is important. It is essential that we give them our full attention and validate not only the content of their message but also the feelings behind it. Although we may not always agree with our children, by giving them the chance to speak and feel empowered in the conversation we are building their self-esteem and modeling communication skills that will lead to success later in life.
Here are ten blocks to listening that many of us often use. It can be helpful to be aware of your use of these blocks when communicating with your family:
- Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person feels and thinks without asking.
- Rehearsing: Planning what you want to say next and missing what is being said now.
- Filtering: Listening only to things that are important or relevant to you and ignoring the rest (even if it’s important to the other person).
- Judging: Evaluating the other person and what they say rather than really trying to understand how they see the world.
- Daydreaming: Getting caught in fantasies or memories while someone is talking to you.
- Advising: Looking for suggestions and solutions instead of listening and understanding.
- Sparring: Invalidating the other person by arguing and debating.
- Being Right: Resisting or ignoring any communication that suggests you are wrong or should change.
- Derailing: Flat out changing the subject as soon as you hear anything that bothers or threatens you.
- Placating: Agreeing too quickly (I know…you’re right… I’m sorry…) without really listening to the other person’s feelings or concerns.
~MINES HealthPsych Team
MINES’ communication theme for July is “Fortifying the Family.” For BizPsych, this theme in particular brings up some fascinating thoughts regarding organizations and organizational development/business psychology. Many of our clients like to think of their businesses or their teams as a “family.” Typically this is when things are going well or were in the past – “we used to be like a family.” I suppose that means that when things are not going well it is like a dysfunctional family, although since none of us really want to associate with that we tend to say “we are no longer like a family,” or “we have lost the family atmosphere.” Even in these references it is clear that a business may feel like a family, but is not a family. In this post, I would like to explore some of the important differences and similarities between family and business.
First, what are the essential differences between family and business? Here is a quote from The Family Business Magazine (Summer 2011 issue):
“… families by definition are the bearers of legacy. Their mandate is to perpetuate and teach familial characteristics – beliefs, morals, assumptions, standards, history, trauma, intimacies, triumphs and failures of past generations. The difficulty lies in the dissonance between these characteristics and what is required for success in the business world.”
The current Wikipedia definition of “business” is as follows:
“A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, in which most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. A business owned by multiple individuals may be referred to as a company, although that term also has a more precise meaning.”
These are vastly different basic foundations. What is the mission or purpose in a family as opposed to the mission of a business or organization? In my view, a healthy family provides support to each individual within the context and relationship to the roots and primary environment of that individual. One of the essential purposes of the family is to create a bond and environment that supports the success of the individual and helps perpetuate a legacy to the future. In the case of a business or organization the primary purpose is to foster the success of the business in meeting the need of its clients or customers. The ultimate goal of the business may be to make profit, or in the case of nonprofits, to maintain and grow the capacity to serve the needs of its clients and the community.
This essential difference leads to what is targeted as a primary difference between family and business and that is the principle of loyalty. Interestingly enough, this is a principle that has shifted significantly in business in the last thirty years. It has become evident that businesses cannot and do not maintain loyalty to its members (i.e. staff) at the expense of the “bottom line.”
“But saying your business is like a family raises expectations that most companies are unwilling to meet. As former New York Knicks coach and basketball commentator Jeff Van Gundy told the New York Times concerning the rash of NBA coaches already fired this season: “It’s always intriguing to me that everyone preaches we’re all in this together, we’re a family. The difference is we are in this together only when it’s going good.” (Fredric Paul InformationWeek December 17, 2008 05:05 AM).
One of the first things families do when they bring a child into the world is to sacrifice one of their most precious assets i.e. sleep for the benefit of their newborn. That is loyalty. The marriage contract typically asserts, “in sickness and in health… till death do us part.” Families stick together “through thick and thin.” Of course this is not always nor should always be the case. Couples divorce, family members become estranged, and teenagers sometimes get “kicked out of the house.” However, this is typically not because of lowered productivity, substandard performance, or to maintain profit margins. We have recognized that in many cases maintaining loyalty over excellent performance can be extremely damaging to business and the organization. Often times in families, loyalty over performance yields positive results for both the individual and family system.
Then there is the middle ground i.e. family business. Much has been written on this topic as well. Several of my consultant friends specialize in family business consulting. Herein may lay the key to understanding some of the essential differences. Typically the articles on this subject differentiate private business from family business. Here are some of the differentiating characteristics that have been identified between family business and “private business:”
- Different Goals: Many times small business owners may have different goals other than their company’s success. There may be certain charities which the owner feels strongly about, but, cost the company more than it can afford. Publicly owned companies are not in position to do this, because of legal reasons, and negative criticism that they will receive.
- Nepotism: Sometimes the owners of family businesses feel an obligation to hire family members rather than hire someone else who may have better credentials. This causes many problems, and can even cause a company to go out of business. There are sometimes fights within the family.
- Less Profit Margins: Public companies have an easier time producing mass number of items, and thus they can get larger profit margins. Mostly the profit margins are twice as large in public companies.
- Less Care about Profits: Many small business owners, specifically family businesses, have a tendency to search for non financial things. They often try to do things that don’t bring profits to the company. They will often try to lower their price to make there customers happy, even though they can’t afford to do so which is not the right business strategy.” (John Elton Article from articlesbase.com)
The article goes on to identify some of the strengths of family-owned businesses:
Strengths of family-owned businesses:
- Teamwork: In family businesses members don’t doubt other’s intentions because they are related, and thus working for a common purpose. In public companies however they may try to do things that hurt others in order to get ahead and gain promotion.
- Greater Sacrifice: In family businesses family members are often willing to work longer hours with efforts for less pay, because they know that they are doing it for the family, and that they are making the company stronger for their kids and grand kids.
- Loyalty: In family businesses it is rare to find turnover, specifically in management, which makes it easy to keep employees for a long period of time, who know what they are doing. In non family businesses employees/managers will often go to a different company for better services and salary and may start off their own company in direct competition to yours. Even if a family member does decide to quit their job, it is very unlikely that they will compete against you.
- More Concerned Employees: In small family businesses the employees are concerned about their company’s success rather than their own success. In public companies the employees often just expect to work for a 40 hour workweek, and then go home, not thinking about their job until when they go back the next Monday. The commitment difference is seen from this.
It is necessary that small businesses recognize their strengths and weaknesses so that they are able to move in the right direction. (John Elton Article from articlesbase.com)
In sum, there are many essential differences between a “healthy family” and a “healthy business.” It is important to keep these essential differences in mind lest we create expectations that are not realistic or helpful to the business (or to the family for that matter). It is also important to recognize some of the similarities and characteristics that are constructive in both families and business.
Consider these tips for communicating with aging parents from ones of MINES’ July newsletters: (Source: Parlay International ©2010 from MINES and Associates’ July 12, 2011 Weekly Communication)
- Set aside appropriate times to talk
- Talk about one thing at a time
- Equal time for talking and listening
- Avoid blame
- Avoid exaggerations
- Focus on problems and solutions
Hmmm, this is an article about family, but seems to identify some of the communication tips we often share with managers and employees in business. Seems it pays to be mindful of both the similarities and differences between family and business – whether private, public, or family-owned.
Patrick Hiester, MA, LPC
Vice President, BizPsych