The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse:
In countless counseling sessions, I’ve heard partners share their struggles with the “work conversations” when getting home after a long day. In the workplace setting, there are conflicts, crises, and criticism which takes an emotional toll.
Naturally, a spouse might want to share their work struggles with the partner because they have a safe marriage. But the problem is that the spouse hearing the lament is powerless to do anything about it. He or she can’t help with the issues and there can only be so much “listening” and “empathy” one can give. And usually, the listener doesn’t have an outlet to share the burden or pain.
All marriage partners need allies–friends, peers, support groups–to confide in so that the marriage doesn’t become the only place to share work struggles.
We’ve tried to have a 5-7 minute “talk about work” rule in our home in order to keep it minimal. Typically, the conversation might happen while we’re making dinner together and then there’s a transition of “Enough about my work…how was your day?”
We want to be a safe space for each other and not burden the other with work issues. Instead, focus on decompressing, having some confidants (preferably a therapist, coach, pastor, or trusted friend) to talk with, and using the evening to fill each other’s love tank.
Not the Owner or the CEO? That’s okay. You still have influence. Here’s a way to “lead up”. I hear a lot of employees saying they wish things were “done different”. Here’s a way to influence that difference. It’s not a quick and easy answer but there are some practical ways to influence.
1. Understand your boss
Ask yourself, what makes your boss tick at work? Is it control and predictability, or exciting ideas and new initiatives?
“First, you have to understand what’s important to your boss, what they care about, and what they wake up in the night worrying about,” said Cohen.
But you don’t have to go foraging through your boss’s trash to find clues to their psychological makeup. What your boss says and does will tell you all you need to know.
“Pay attention to the person you work for, because that person is telling you an awful lot about how to work with them,” Edwards told CNN.
2. Lead from the middle
You many not be the boss, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think like one.
John Baldoni is a leadership development consultant and author of “Lead your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up.” He told CNN he prefers the term “leading up” to managing up.
“Leading up means adopting the perspective of a CEO with the authority of a middle manager,” said Baldoni.
“Look for opportunities to effect positive change, grow the business, or get more out of the team. Think holistically about how your actions as a middle manager can affect the whole organization.”
3. Build credibility
You won’t be able to influence your manager unless you are credible, and the way to build credibility is by being good at your job, says Cohen.
Baldoni told CNN, “If you are someone who can get things done and your colleagues and bosses trust you, they will know you are a positive influence and they will come to you.”
4. It’s not about you
Managing up may be good for your career, but it’s not about brown nosing — it’s about doing what’s right for your organization.
“Some people think managing up is sucking up, but it’s not,” Edwards told CNN. “Yes, it ends up having a tremendous impact on your own PR, but you have to put other people first, and that’s something a lot of people don’t understand.”
Cohen agrees. “People listen more to what you’re saying if they think you actually care about them and are interested in their general welfare,” he said.
5. Take action
It’s not enough to just turn up for work and wait for your manager to lead. You need to be proactive in your relationship towards your manager, and your organization as a whole.
“Act upon what it is that needs to be done,” said Baldoni. “Initiate a new program, take a lead in product development, perhaps the reorganization of a business.
“Be front and center on an issue that will benefit not simply yourself, but the whole organization.”
6. Dealing with a difficult boss
Edwards says that dealing with a difficult boss is sometimes just a matter of communicating in a way they understand. Technical people respond to hard data, creative types prefer hearing about big ideas. But some bosses just won’t respond to leadership from below.
The workplace can sometimes be a hotbed for accusation, gossip, and rumors to fly. Here’s a way to engage and respond to accusation. By the way, the primary title for the Evil One depicted in the Bible is “The Hasatan” which means accuser. Accusing others is evil.
- Accept that there is no way you can erase what has happened. Even though the accusations may be unfair and untrue, the situation is real. You need to get out of denial about that in order to deal with it in the here and now.
- Watch your catastrophic language. If you keep saying this is “horrible” and your life is “ruined,” you add to the stress. Put things in perspective. An innocent child in a burn unit of a hospital is horrible. Perhaps your situation isn’t as tragic. Perhaps your life isn’t ruined, but just damaged. Change your internal dialogue, and you will feel better.
- Life Law #2: You Create Your Own Experience. The first person you’ve got to repair your reputation with is you. Are you a bad guy? Are you a bad citizen? Do you hurt people? Do you commit crimes? The answer if probably no. Stop feeling guilty and being angry with yourself. Own your mistakes, forgive yourself for them but don’t continue to beat yourself up. Life is not a success-only journey. Learn from your bad decisions and move on.
- Ask yourself what you would like to see happen in order to clear your name. Is there anything that anyone — the authorities, your co-workers or someone in the community — can do that could ever make the situation better.
- Begin with your inner circle. Start rebuilding your reputation with your family, close friends and neighbors. You make sure they know the truth. When your inner circle knows who you really are, they will go out into the world with the truth, and it will create a ripple effect. And if you are confronted with these false accusations again, you look the person in the eye, and you tell your side of the story. You don’t need to bring this up the rest of your life, but in your immediate circle and in this immediate time, you want to step up and tell them the truth.
Understand that people might come forward to admit they were wrong. And they might not. It is up to you to put this behind you. Give yourself what you wish you could receive from others. You need to say to yourself, “I know I didn’t do this. And I will give myself what I wish the community, the authorities, etc., would give me.”
- Life Law #8: You Teach People How to Treat You. If you walk into the world, and you’re hanging your head, and you kind of don’t want to look anybody in the eye, and you’re shameful, then people will treat you that way. You have to be your own best friend, and you have to decide who you are at the core. Begin the process of closure by not reacting to what you think people are saying about you. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, feel guilty or shrink away because of what people think, you are putting yourself in a prison.
Don’t try to address every accusation. If you decide to start defending yourself, that will become your full-time job. If you answer every story, every piece of gossip, every allegation in your life, that’s all you will ever do. You will be completely consumed by this, and it will take over your life.
- Stop reacting to the rumors. You give it legs by reacting to it. Don’t draw attention to yourself defending the rumor. You need to give yourself permission to just live your life. If there are people out there who think something about you that you don’t like, then those won’t be your friends. There will be other people who will like and respect you for who you are, and they will be your friends.
- Stand up for yourself and say, “I’m taking my power back. I’m not going to give them the power to pick my feelings. They’re wrong, and I can look myself in the mirror knowing the truth.” You have to decide that you believe in who you are, what you stand for, and what you do, and you just need to go forth and do it. You need to walk forward from the situation. Who you are and what you do, that will win out in time.
- Know that it’s normal to feel a twinge of guilt even if you’re completely innocent. We always hear about guilt by association. But there is also guilt by accusation. People hear something negative and tend to believe it. If you accuse a person unfairly, he/she still has that twinge — just from having the finger pointed at him/her.
- Don’t fall into the trap of acting out with non-directional frustration. The stress that comes with being wrongly accused can lead a person to act out with those closest to them, like a spouse or child. Remember that the enemy isn’t your loved one; it’s an outside force.