Crina and Kirsten Get to Work
Burnout

Burnout

October 22, 2021

Burnout feels like depletion, exhaustion, disconnection, negative emotions and reduced capacity...sound familiar?  You’re not alone! In fact burnout is so pervasive that over seventy-five percent of the workforce is currently, or has previously experienced it.  

 

SHOW NOTES

Burnout is a  real diagnosis - and defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” by the World Health Organization.  This relatively new diagnosis is defined as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

 

Christina Maslach (creator of the Maslach Burnout Inventory) first identified the syndrome - and it came out of her work with healthcare workers and their families.  Here are her inventory questions:

 

  1. How often are you tired and lacking energy to go to work in the morning?
  2. How often do you feel physically drained, like your batteries are dead?
  3. How often is your thinking process sluggish or your concentration impaired?
  4. How often do you feel emotionally detached from co-workers (or customers) and unable to be sensitive to their needs?

 

Does it sound like you?  If you are like most of us - yes, at least some teimes.

 

How does this happen?  When we carry too much for too long and cannot effectively process our emotions, our neurological system gets overloaded - and we are unable to effectively deal with this overload.

 

Who does this happen to?  Well, all of us, but those of us that are anxious or have a low self esteem or poor boundaries are thought to be more likely to suffer burnout, according to a study of Spanish nurses.  According to authors Rachel Montane and Erika Pryor, women of color also carry the emotional burden of discrimination, fear of retaliation - and of course much of the emotional labor of diversity in the workplace..

 

Employers contribute to burnout by unfair treatment, an unmanageable workload, unrealistic deadlines, poor communication and a lack of support.

 

Enter Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout, who just happen to be identical twins.  They have concluded, based on their research, that the key to preventing burnout is to manage the emotions you are having so that we do not become emotionally exhausted.  They encourage us to process the emotion - actually turn towards it, and feel it.  Scary!!  But we can do it.

 

Here are the twins’ suggestions to deal with, process and get on the other side of our emotions.

 

  • Engage in physical activity
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Make positive connections with people you love and care about (call someone or better yet go for a walk with a friend)
  • Laugh - a great big belly laugh
  • Hug for 20 seconds - the full slightly uncomfortable 20 seconds
  • Cry - they promise it will not go on forever
  • Be Creative - paint, sing, dance, write

 

The key is to send our body a signal that the danger is over, we are safe.  And how do we know our emotions have been processed and we are “done?”  The twin doctors promise your body will tell you.

 

Be aware of your depletion clues.  Are you sleeping well and enough?  Are you engaging in activities where you do not think of work? Are you taking breaks at work?  Do you have work-life boundaries?

 

The solution to burnout is actually more than self-care.  It is more about managing emotions.

  

While burnout is prevalent, there are things we can do to recognize our vulnerability, determine whether it is happening to us and work to relieve that chronic stress through the processing of emotions.  

 

More good reads:

How to Recover From Burnout & Love Work Again According to Science

 

How to Eliminate Burnout and Retain Top Talent

When Is It Good Enough? Toxic Perfectionism at Work.

When Is It Good Enough? Toxic Perfectionism at Work.

October 8, 2021

While "perfect," is an unattainable standard, many people struggle to accept the inevitable: that striving for the impossible goal of perfection leads to stress, burnout, sickness and feelings of failure.  

 

SHOW NOTES 

 

We know that perfection is the state of being without flaw or defects - and we all know that perfection is not really attainably.  It may be that some of us everyone once in a while achieve perfection, but perfection is not something most of us achieve.  Perfectionism is the refusal or inability to accept anything short of perfect.  Friend, do you see the cognitive dissonance here, the undeniable catch-22?  Perfectionists are trying to achieve the unattainable.  Painful - to the individual who is the perfectionist as well as those around her.

 

We want to make sure not to confuse high achiever with perfectionist.  And there are even some great descriptions for this.

 

Adaptive perfectionist: aka high-achievers: adaptive perfectionism means that a person thrives on doing some, but crucially not all, things well. In the words of Stoltz & Ashby 2007 “adaptive perfectionism is characterised as a normal, healthy type of perfectionism and is defined by deriving satisfaction from achievements made from intense effort but tolerating the imperfections….”

 

Adaptive perfectionists are the women who embrace the reality that it’s simply impossible to achieve complete perfection and instead aim for a high standard of work in those tasks they do well, and that play to their unique strengths.  These women are telling themselves more of the truth about who they are and the circumstances that are in - they are adaptive.

 

Maladapted perfectionism is such a great descriptor because we start off right away knowing this is not a good thing.  The maladapted perfectionist is likely on a path to pain.  These women are very hard on themselves when perfection is not achieved.  And these kinds of unrealistic expectations and responses lead to depression, anxiety and increased levels of stress.

 

We can have high standards, the question is what happens when reality comes crashing in and our high expectations have not been mer.  Failure is inevitable - and, you guessed it - far more stressful on the maladapted gal than the adaptive gal.  Crina shares a story about her own sense of perfectionism getting in the way of her own fun - she wanted to be excellent and when she was not, she gave up - until, smarty chick that she is - she realized that approach was no way to love and it was far better to have more fun - even if she was not excellent at whatever was fun.  

 

As with most things, none of us neatly fall into one category or another and may see ourselves in both.  What are the indicia of tipping over into maladaptive rather than the sweet spot of adaptive:

Do people tell you you are difficult to change

Do you want to change your body?

Do you notice others’ mistakes?

Do you notice the mistakes you made?

When you try something new that you are not good at - do you give up?

Do you focus on the success or the failure?

Do you procrastinate or avoid tasks regularly?

Mistakes are flaws versus opportunities to learn?

 

Kirsten shares that the legal profession is toxic perfectionism.  Making a mistake can hurt your client - and is malpractice - there is no room for mistakes.  It is the part of practicing law she has most struggled with over her career because it is based on a falsehood - we all make mistakes and that standard of perfection fails to acknowledge the human behind the work.

 

The disturbing news is that perfectionism is on the rise. A 2019 study that evaluated more than 40,000 college students found a 33% rise in perfectionism from 1989 to 2016.

 

But this should be good news for the workplace, right?  We want a bunch of perfectionists doing great work, right?  Surprisingly, no - we do not! A vast meta-analysis of 30 years of studies, conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology, found there was no relationship between perfectionism and job performance for either group (failure avoiding or excellence seeking) , says researcher Dana Harari, who worked on the meta-analysis. “To me, the most important takeaway of this research is the null relationship between perfectionism and performance,” she says. “It's not positive, it's not negative, it's just really null.” Is that the craziest thing?  Perfectionism does not lead to better work performance.

 

You know our hosts are not going to leave our lady friends hanging!  

  • Go for the B

  • Give 80%- As Cinzia BuBois says, “Giving 100 percent should be saved for those special passion projects or for those most treasured people in your life. If you give 100 percent to everything and everyone around you, the quality of your output will go down. You’ll become burnt out, exhausted, and resentful. Not only is 100 percent unrealistic, it doesn’t allow room for learning. Getting an 80 percent always puts you in the higher tiers of anything in life; it’s not perfect, but it’s still rather outstanding. By striving for 80 percent, you allow room for perseverance, flexibility, and diligence, uncorrupted by the fear of failure (or rather, imperfection).”  The Perfectionism Epidemic. We live in a society where failure is… | by Cinzia DuBois | Achology

  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Done is better than incomplete or worse, never started

  • Realizing failure isn’t the opposite of success, but part of it. No one can learn without making mistakes, and no project, skill, or relationship can grow without learning. We’re not supposed to be perfect the first time around

  • Recovery activities are critical when you do give it your all - you need to rest and restore and re-energize - you know self-care.

 

To all you fabulous females out there, some of this may be counterintuitive in the workplace, but the data supports that perfectionism is not correlative with performance - and it can cause suffering - to our minds, our hearts and our bodies.  Get yourself a B and carefully choose when you bring the A game.

 

Good reads

Being a perfectionist is good for your career, right?

Obsessed with Perfection: How to Overcome Toxic Perfectionism in a Highly Competitive World

The Trouble with Toxic Perfectionism

The Pros and Cons of Perfectionism, According to Research (hbr.org)

Obsessed with Perfection: How to Overcome Toxic Perfectionism in a Highly Competitive World

Is perfect good? A meta-analysis of perfectionism in the workplace. (apa.org)

 

Thinking About Calling It Quits? Join the Club!

Thinking About Calling It Quits? Join the Club!

September 24, 2021

The entire workforce is changing, right before our eyes. As millions of workers are leaving their jobs every month, employers are facing tough questions about how to attract and retain talent. Meanwhile, workers in every single profession are seeking more ease, meaning and joy in their jobs. Welcome to the Great Resignation!

 

SHOW NOTES 

 

On this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our pair of pretties riff on what has become known as The Great Resignation.  Yes, people are leaving the workforce in droves, and not returning to the workforce after being laid off due to COVID. There is essentially a mass exodus from the workplace.  

 

So here are some jarring stats:

 

We know a little about why they are leaving.  The vast majority spent that time trapped in their home thinking about their current work situation and realized they needed a change.  Stress and burnout are also significant factors as people, particularly women push the eject button.  Some are just dissatisfied with how their employer has handed COVID, others cite unfairness and others just decided being a two income household was too much and made the decision to live with just one income.  And some have been motivated to take the leap and start their own business.

 

If you are one of those employees looking for the door, our hosts have some ideas:

  1. Getting another job before you leave is safer, but staying can be unbearable
  2. Consider having at least 6 months savings and stop spending money
  3. Do the work to understand what you want, what you need, what your values are (listen to the meaning episodes!). Remember that you take yourself with you wherever you go.
  4. Change one variable at a time at your current job 
  5. Give your current job some time to settle, especially if you’re compensated well and it aligns with your values
  6. Lean on your network to find other opportunities
  7. Set up job alerts
  8. Work on your resume
  9. Remember that while it’s a job seekers market, there are still a lot of other people who will be competing with you for the job

 

If you are one of those managers looking to keep your employees, consider these strategies:

 

  1.  Once pay and benefits are fair -- not industry-leading, just appropriate and reasonable -- how you treat people makes a huge difference.
  2. Talk to your employees to determine whether the company’s mission and values align with employees; mission and values
  3. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them
  4. Take the opportunity to recognize and make use of employees; strengths
  5. Be fair and kind to your workers
  6. Invest in internal communication and transparent decision-making
  7. Build trust and team

 

And there is some anecdotal proof that these kinds of measures work.  A study of more than 400,000 people published in Harvard Business Review found that when employees believe promotions are managed effectively, employee turnover rates are half that of other companies in the same industry. 

 

The last 20 months have been a very unusual and upsetting time.  It is understandable that the vast majority of us are reconsidering how we spend our work time - and it makes sense that we are considering a change.  If you are a manager, accepting that reality and being the preferred employer is important if you want to retain your employees.  If you are an employee, plan carefully, but the workplace is your metaphorical oyster (you know, the one with the pearl)  in ways it has never been.

Hold the line, Sister. Your Boundaries Define Who You Are.

Hold the line, Sister. Your Boundaries Define Who You Are.

September 10, 2021

Healthy boundaries at work can make the difference between professional fulfillment or burnout. Boundaries are the physical, emotional, and mental limits we create to protect ourselves from over-committing, being used or behaving in unethical ways. 

 

SHOW NOTES

Boundaries separate what we think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others. How to Define Healthy Boundaries at Work — Melody Wilding

 

Crina talks about capital “B” boundaries that are strong, not subject to negotiation with little flexibility.  Lower case “b” boundaries are more porous, flexible and may change depending on circumstances.  

 

A boundary is a container around your time, mental and emotional energy, relationships, physical body and material and energetic resources.

 

Where do we see boundaries at work?

How you spend your time

What you agree to do - or not do

How you spend your energy

What do you need for your physical space

How you want to communicate in the office

 

Our job descriptions and our fte status are significant boundaries at work.

 

Boundaries are important because they allow you to be more of you. They walk hand in hand with our self-worth.  They allow us to maintain our energy and resilience.  They guide healthy relationships.

 

We see boundaries in action at work when we do not allow others to speak to us in a rude or condescending manner, when we protect our space - a closed door, separation from a co-worker in a meeting, setting priorities in your work.

 

Boundaries between work and our personal lives are also important.  Workers tend to fall into three categories as they define their work and personal boundaries - separators, integrators and cyclers.  Separators are 9 to 5ers (or whatever the hours) - folks who clock in and clock out and work and personal do not bleed into each other.  Integrators tend to go between work and personal all of the time - these are the folks who cannot tell you how much they work because they are meshing their work and personal lives to a significant degree.  Cyclers are those folks who spend a significant amount of their energy and time on work in big chunks - firefighters who work for a week and then are off for a week.  Understanding how you separate work and personal is helpful in analyzing your own boundaries and whether those are respected.

 

Our hosts conclude with examples of boundaries gone bad in the workplace.

 

More good reads:

Kossek inpress10 Managing Work-Life Boundaries in the Digital Age.pdf (bc.edu)

How to set clear work boundaries — and stick to them | (ted.com)

The Successful Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries – Without Being a Bitch - Women Igniting Change

Finding Meaning at Work Part 2: Crafting Your Job

Finding Meaning at Work Part 2: Crafting Your Job

August 27, 2021

You will find meaning and purpose in your work when you are able to craft, change, modify and align your daily tasks to match your values. In fact, some say that finding meaning at work is more about what you do with what you have, instead of what you start with.

SHOW NOTES

In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our hosts tackle part II of this two-part series on meaning in the workplace.  In Part I, Crina and Kirsten discussed the importance of meaning at work and that meaning arises when we find alignment with our values.

Identifying our values allows us, hopefully, to match those values to those of our employer.  This is where our internal work on values can overlap with the external world – in this case our employer. 

The good news is that meaning is more about what we do with what we have instead of what we start with.  Some folks may be in a job that completely aligns with their values – maybe a teacher who values teaching and children and being of service and her employer supports her in those values.  Not that she loves everything she does, but her internal values coincide with her external work experience.

So, what do we do when that is not the case?

There are a number of ways to modify our internal and external worlds to align with our values and create meaning.

Amy Wresniewski. professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, with the assistance of her colleagues, introduced the concept of job crafting.  In studying the work of a group of janitors at a hospital, she discovered the janitors experienced the same job in different ways – and fell into two distinct groups.  One group saw themselves as just janitors, did not think they were highly skilled and would describe their job as cleaning.  The other group talked about their work in relation to patients and visitors’ care. In fact, most of how those in this second group described their job was not even in the job description.  They discussed tasks such as changing the art on the walls of patients who were in a coma or cleaning the floor extra times in the rooms of patients who did not have visitors, or guiding visitors to where they were going.  This second group viewed their work as providing a safe and clean place for people to get healthy and heal or as ambassadors for the hospital.  She called what the second group was doing job crafting.

Wresniewski describes job crafting as “[w}hat employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that foster engagement at work, job satisfaction, resilience and thriving.” (Berg, Wrzensniewski and Dutton, 2010) Job crafting can be changing the task you perform – adding or dropping responsibilities – like the janitor cleaning the floor of a lonely patient several times a day.  It can also be in creating certain types of interactions – who do we want to work with and how?  We can choose who we brainstorm with, sometimes who we work with on a project and even sometimes who we serve so that these people add meaning to our work.  Job crafting can also be changing your mindset about what you are doing, which is also something the janitors did – realizing their job was not cleaning floors, but providing a place for people to heal and get well.

People who job craft tend to have more satisfaction, commitment, happiness and better performance in and with their jobs.  It is a really good way for people to find meaning at work.

Employees will likely job craft– often not even being aware of it.  Managers and supervisors should recognize this and support it.  We know it has an incredibly positive effect in the workplace when employees find meaning in their work – and job crafting is one significant way employees find meaning in their work.  Leadership can consider:

 

  1. Giving autonomy and support to employees
  2. Encouraging employees to identify their values and create plans for themselves at work that align with those values
  3. Communicating company values and goals so employees can see how they fit into achieving those goals and living those values
  4. Allowing and encouraging task reassignment that fits values, such as holding a job crafting “swap meet” where people talk about whether given values and strengths of each employee, certain tasks can be traded.
  5. Recognizing and celebrating and supporting employees who take the ownership in their work necessary to job craft.

 And here are some good reads:

 Job Crafting - Amy Wrzesniewski on creating meaning in your own work

The 4-Hour Meaning Week. 4 power-hours of super-meaning per week… | by Taylor Foreman | The Startup | Jul, 2021

Help your employees find purpose--or watch them leave

Igniting individual purpose in times of crisis

The Why Of Work: Purpose And Meaning Really Do Matter

Positive Workplace What is Job Crafting? (Incl. 5 Examples and Exercises)

 

 

 

Finding Meaning at Work Part 1:Harnessing Your Values

Finding Meaning at Work Part 1:Harnessing Your Values

August 13, 2021

A key to finding meaning at work lies in your ability to align your daily tasks with your values. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, it only matters that you, personally, know what you care about and express those values in your job. When you find meaning, or purpose, at work you are more productive, healthier, resilient, and more fun to be around! 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

In Part I of a two part series on finding meaning at work, our hale and happy hosts spend some time diving into what meaning is, why it is important and the backbone of meaning - identifying your values.

 

What are we talking about when we say meaning?  Meaning is the connection between two or more things or ideas that together fulfill a higher purpose, create esteem or admiration, have a positive impact, transcend our instincts or our view of what we can achieve or makes sense (aka lofty goals).  This is according to Kirsten and The Meaning of Life (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

 

Meaning is not happiness, it is not good character.  It is the connection between ourselves and one of those “lofty goals.”  Sometimes we find meaning because we are providing for our families, or helping someone else, being of service, discovering something new, solving problems, protecting the environment etc . . .

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

 

“People who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company. Moreover, when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.” Help your employees find purpose--or watch them leave

 

Simply put - meaning is good for us and good for the workplace. Meaning at work makes us:

 

  • 2.5 times more likely to be free of dementia
  • 22 percent less likely to exhibit risk factors for stroke
  • 52 percent less likely to have experienced a stroke

 

And if this wasn’t enough, individual purpose benefits organizations, too… People who find their individual purpose congruent with their jobs tend to get more meaning from their roles, making them more productive and more likely to outperform their peers.  Igniting individual purpose in times of crisis.

 

HOW DO WE FIND MEANING:

 

Ideally, work is a place where you can express your values - it is a calling.  There are external factors - the work and the workplace that affect this and well an internal factors.

 

As always, the good and bad news is that we have more ability to affect change when it comes to our internal experience.  

 

  • Identify Your Values

Values are the things that are most important in our lives.  When values and goals are aligned, we are much more likely to motivate ourselves towards action and success.  

 

According to Simon Senik values need to be actionable  Here is his terrific TEDTalk: Honesty is NOT a Value | Simon Sinek Values are not nouns, but actions.  He gives these great examples:

 

Honesty vs “tell the truth”

Innovation vs “allow for experimentation”

Humor vs. “laugh everyday”

Most of us have a sense of our values and can list our values.  However, it is interesting to move past your assumptions and reflect on them from an independent source.  For example, The Values Project is a decades-long effort to get people in touch with their values.  Click on the link to test your assumptions about your values. The Values Project | Let's reveal what matters to you.  Getting clear on your values is the first step to finding meaning at work.

The Best Coworkers are Trauma-Informed

The Best Coworkers are Trauma-Informed

July 30, 2021

Trauma and toxic stress is pervasive in the workplace. You, your friends, your coworkers are all dealing with some version of trauma from, among other things, adverse childhood experiences, the pandemic, climate change, natural disasters, poverty and racism. While all events impact us individually, it’s important to recognize the signs of trauma and normalize trauma-informed workplaces.

 

In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our dynamic duo takes on trauma.  The pandemic is a traumatic event, whether we know it or not - although its impacts on us individually are very different.

 

This episode draws from an article advancing a trauma informed approach to work - and while we of course need to be aware of our own trauma, being aware of co-workers’ trauma is important in creating the kind of workplace we all want - one with ease, meaning and joy.  

Here is the article.  TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH TO WORKFORCE

 

Trauma is physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening experiences with lasting adverse effects on our functioning, mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.  This can be things like a physical assault, verbal abuse, witnessing someone else endure these experiences.  Kirsten and Crina think that toxic and prolonged stress has much the same effect as trauma.  Think the pandemic, racism, political unrest - yes, friends, we have had it all.

 

When we experience trauma or toxic stress, we can feel disassociated, persecuted, depressed, negative and disheartened.  We can experience physical pain and discomfort, nightmares, insomnia, mood swings and panic attacks.  And things we may struggle with in normal times, like anxiety, become more difficult to deal with.

 

Our brains are literally hard-wired to deal with trauma and toxic stress.  When the brain senses danger, the amygdala springs into action, which causes the sympathetic nervous system to fight, take flight, or freeze. Blood and oxygen are diverted to muscles and away from our brains, and a surge of adrenaline enables us to fight or take flight. Cortisol is released to inhibit any pain that might slow us down. All systems not crucial to survival are suppressed. Basically, the “survival” brain overrides the “rational” or “thinking brain” in the cerebral cortex, where rational thought and executive functioning, like problem solving and cooperating with others, take place.  And when your brain sends these signals over and over again, well, it is overwhelming.  Now, imagine that you have to show up and work - or these things are going on at your work - yikes!

 

Most importantly, we need to manage our own trauma and toxic stress - and there are some great strategies for doing so:  get outside, connect with people you love and who are energy giving, simplify your life, love on your dogs and cats, find something to be grateful for - (chocolate?), extend grace and compassion to yourself, and reset your nervous system with yoga, breathing, meditation and movement in general.

 

After addressing what we can do about our own trauma and toxic stress, Crina and Kirsten dive into what about others’ trauma and toxic stress in the workplace.  And there are a lot of folks in the workplace with trauma and toxic stress - in fact two-thirds of us have experienced some kind of childhood trauma.  

 

The first step is to educate ourselves - like this podcast!  The next step is to normalize these experiences.  And provide space for these experiences.  As a co-worker, look for the signs of trauma and stress.  Be curious, listen and if someone does open up to you, try not to problem solve unless specifically asked, be a witness, hold space.  One on one check ins are a great opportunity for this.  

 

If you are in a place to influence the workplace, encourage employees to take breaks, make sure the break room is not just caffeine and sugar, institute scheduled stretching times, consider an educational program for all staff on these issues.

 

As Oprah says, “I'm really proud to say that even in my worst moments, I've always had the good sense to know that however bad things were, they wouldn't remain so."

A TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH TO WORKFORCE

Signs & Symptoms of Psychological & Emotional Trauma | Cascade Behavioral Health

Difficult Conversations Don’t Need to Suck

Difficult Conversations Don’t Need to Suck

July 16, 2021

Advocating for yourself, confronting a coworker, asking for a raise...these courageous conversations are nerve wracking at best and in some cases, cause great anxiety. But avoiding difficult conversations is not an option if you want ease, meaning and joy at work. 

SHOW NOTES

As most of us know – things are bad out there.  We are fractured about politics, COVID, black lives and all sort of other things.  As we have become fractured and unable to engage in meaningful conversation about our positions, beliefs and opinions, we “other” each other.  

“Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We're less likely to compromise, which means we're not listening to each other. And we make decisions about where to live, who to marry and even who our friends are going to be, based on what we already believe. Again, that means we're not listening to each other. A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.” Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation.  When we do not know and understand each other, it is easier for us to dismiss, denigrate and discriminate against each other. 

It turns out not addressing difficult issues is also creating problems at work.  We spend almost three hours a week at work dealing with a workplace conflict caused by people who should have taken part in a difficult/courageous conversation.  About a third of these conflicts lead to personal injury or attacks, 22% of us are sick because of these conflicts and about a third of us leave our jobs because of one of these conflicts that could be solved with difficult conversations.  The Work Conversations We Dread the Most, According to Research

What makes a difficult conversation so hard? It turns out that it is fear and embarrassment.  Emotions are high – we are angry, upset, frustrated, disappointed.  We are afraid we will lose something we will care about or something will challenge our identity and sense of self.

Once you identify an issue that calls for a difficult or courageous conversation – get yourself ready.  BE CURIOUS.  ASSUME THE BEST INTENTIONS IN THE OTHER PERSON AND GET OUT OF FAULT AND BLAME.

Once we get into the right mindset, we can plan our conversation.

What is the purpose?

What are your assumptions?

What emotional buttons do you anticipate being “pushed” and how do you keep calm when that happens?

What is your attitude about the conversation?

What are your needs and fears?

We Have to Talk: A Step-By-Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations | Judy Ringer

Plan the first thing you will say in the conversation.  Getting off on the right foot is important?  What is your opening line?

During the conversation ask questions, acknowledge the other person’s feelings and position, advocate for your position without minimizing the other person and be solution oriented.13 Ways To Have Difficult Conversations With Clients

Let’s get out there and have that difficult conversation in the most courageous way – we can do it!

Attractive Women Make More Money

Attractive Women Make More Money

July 2, 2021

Every day before work, women shave, shampoo, condition, exfoliate, moisturize, cover-up, tone, powder, brush, style, spray, whiten, clip, paint, smooth, enhance, conceal, deodorize and pluck (did we miss anything?). In fact women spend an average of 27 minutes a day getting ready for work, use somewhere around 16 unique products on their bodies and spend thousands of dollars on clothes and shoes.

 

Why do we do this? Some women use clothes, hair and makeup as a form of self expression, which is great! But many of us spend time on appearances in order to protect ourselves, fit into the mold and be “acceptable.” Remember what the patriarchy told you: ladies need to look the part in order to be successful. 

 

The truth of the matter is that a woman’s appearance can impact her income, status, and how others perceive her at work. 

 

According to Leah D. Sheppard, an assistant professor at Washington State University who conducted a variety of experiments testing others' perception of attractive women, found that “beautiful women were perceived to be less truthful, less trustworthy as leaders, and more deserving of termination than their ordinary-looking female counterparts.”

 

On another note, a seminal study conducted by NYU sociologist Dalton Conley and NYU graduate student Rebecca Glauber found that women’s weight gain results in a decrease in both their income level and job prestige. By contrast, men experience no such negative effects.

 

According to a landmark study from Cornell University, white women who put on an additional 64 pounds, experienced a 9% drop in wages. And according to a 2007 paper from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a statistically significant "wage penalty" for overweight and obese white women. ("Previous studies have shown that white women are the only race-gender group for which weight has a statistically significant effect on wages," according to the paper.) The obese take a bigger hit, with a wage loss of 12%. 

 

And as if that isn’t enough, a more recent study by researchers at Harvard University, Boston University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found makeup was found to increase people’s perceptions of a woman’s likeability and trustworthiness as well.

 

And finally, although there is no correlation between height and effectiveness or intelligence, a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall--well above the national female average of 5 feet, 3.5 inches--will make $5,250 more over the course of a year than a female co-worker standing 5 feet 2 inches.

 

So what to do about it?

 

  • Be aware of your bias
  • Create a “work uniform” so you don’t have to spend so much time and money on outfits
  • Stop commenting on women’s appearances. No more, “How are you feeling?” “You look tired!”
  • According to Tracy Spicer:
    • Take note of the number of minutes your personal grooming eats up over a day a week and month
    • Think about all the other things you could be doing
    • Decide what you can reduce or live without
  • Anonymous recruitment practices
  • Celebrate women of all shapes and sizes

 

And of course, the good reads:

For Women in Business, Beauty Is a Liability

Your looks and your job

Think Looks Don't Matter? Think Again

The double standards women face at work every day

The lady stripped bare | Tracey Spicer | TEDxSouthBankWomen

The Urgency Trap

The Urgency Trap

June 18, 2021

When every one of your tasks is urgent, you quickly lose control. In fact, when trapped by urgency, your stress increases, your judgement declines and your anger and anxiety become front-and-center. So how to get out of the urgency trap and start getting yourself some ease, meaning and joy at work? The answers might surprise you!

 

SHOW NOTES

 

In the episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts tackle one of the most significant negative impacts on your ease, meaning and joy in the workplace - URGENCY!  Yes, the topic is the hair-raising, spine-tingling, sweat producing, pulse racing and shallow breathing of urgency. 

 

When something big or just everything feels urgent, we experience:

 

  • A rise in stress hormones
  • Executive function decline
  • Memory, judgement, impulse control deteriorate
  • Anger and anxiety centers of the brain are activated

 

And once we experience those things, we experience:

  • Low energy
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration

 

Before you read on - just consider for a moment the bullet points above - a buzzkill on your ease, meaning and joy!

 

When every task is the most urgent, it limits our mind’s ability to think creatively. Problem solving is nearly impossible, and we resort to rushed, bad decisions that cause our team’s more time and effort in the long run to correct.

 

Urgency also gets in the way of the things our higher selves want to accomplish - diversity, equity and inclusion, which require us to consider our biases and question our assumptions and conclusions.  While we all experience urgency - white culture seems to embrace the nettle of urgency in an almost reverent manner.  Sometimes we white folks equate our self worth with the urgency of our attention to someone or some task.  WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE: Characteristics

 

And while Crina and Kirsten like to give you good news, there is bad news here - our brains are hard wired to respond to urgency.  In fact, in order to get our urgency rush, we will give up bigger rewards over the long term.  See the reading below for the data and science behind “our brains on urgency.”

 

If we know urgency has negative effects on our physical, psychological and emotional capacity - and how effective we are at work, how do we minimize urgency - and note - our gals are realistic - urgency is our forever friend, but we have some boundaries with that frenemy urgency:

 

  • Set realistic work plans - and check you optimism (which in other areas Crina and Kirsten generally encourage, but optimism can really take us to a bad place if we are not realistic about work plans
  • Set aside time for planning
  • When we do planning - plan for urgency, what is your response
  • Think like an ER doctor - assess, prioritize and make a plan - An ER doctor on triaging your "crazy busy" life
  • Don't assume that "urgent" means "immediately"
  • Stop hurrying  - awareness
  • Push back against your inner urgency bias by:
    • Making lists
    • Challenge your own thinking - because we know we have an urgency bias

For those who want to dig in deeper - here are some great reads on the topic:

 

When every task is top priority

My Sense of Urgency Is Killing Me (Slowly)

When Everything Is Urgent, Nothing Really Is

When everything feels urgent, choose significant instead

How to manage your time better by fighting "urgency bias" — Quartz at Work (qz.com)

WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE: Characteristics

The Psychology of Urgency: 9 Ways to Drive Conversions

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