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Newsletter Vol. #99

What you have to look forward to:
- an article on job satisfaction;
- three interesting Did You Knows;
- an informative article on communication;
- a blistering response to the Vol. #97 piece on "The 60's Scoop"; and
- one of my favourite series of humour, "...and then the fight started".

Looking For ...In All the Wrong Places     

There's a country and western song called "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places". Heard of it?  I was reminded of this song while preparing a workshop (several years ago) for an organization, titled "Job Satisfaction and Well Being".  The person who hired me to do the workshop had told me that participants wanted to feel better about their jobs.  This was despite the fact that most of them were overworked, felt under-appreciated, and were definitely struggling with the issue of job satisfaction. Sound at all familiar?
I don't remember my father or grandfather talking about how satisfied they were in their jobs.  They were grateful just to have a job because, apparently, there weren't many options in the 1930s and 40s.  In my work life there was a lot of talk about job satisfaction, in part because it was a directive of the union movement.  That was okay with me because I have always believed that happy and healthy workers create an environment in which more work gets done, and morale and productivity is higher.

However, something has been happening in the last 20 years or so (my truth).  In the pursuit of job satisfaction, or perhaps for survival reasons, people in North America are not just working hard, but harder than they ever have.  Recently, I read that employed Canadians are working 20% harder than their counterparts had during the boom times after World War II.  In the 80s, it was predicted by many futurists that the late 90s and turn of the century would be the era of less work and more recreation.  Hardly!  So what happened?

In a symbolic way, bookstores have reflected this shift, with more and more bestsellers dedicated to surviving stress in our lives and in the workplace. (By the way, there is an excellent book entitled, "Finding Balance". I am quite familiar with the author and I assure you, without any bias, it is a great book. He also has a new one coming out soon). Interestingly, stress and wellness are the most asked for Professional Development topics by employees in all facets of Canadian society.  Clearly, as much as things have changed, they have come full circle - from little job satisfaction in my father's and grandfather's time, to demanding worksite satisfaction during my work time, and now back to little satisfaction with a "do more with less" kind of directive.

As a therapist, I constantly work to help people re-evaluate their lives before they go back into the workplace after having been away because of sickness and burnout.  As a result, I am jaded after seeing so many people who get sick because of the system they work in and the choices they make within that system, that I refuse to talk about job satisfaction any more.
Instead, I talk about setting boundaries and deciding just how much this job "gets of me or from me".  I talk about balance, and work as being only one dimension of who we are.  I talk about health and accomplishment, not accomplishment at the price of one's health.

Ask yourself these questions.  Can I still have a satisfying life even if my job is not as satisfying as it once was?  Can other parts of my life that are highly satisfying, or could be with a positive change in attitude, make up for some of the loss of satisfaction with my job, providing I take the time to do them?  Where is it stated that your job has to be so important?

I am often criticized for saying, "Your job is just a job, not a calling".  People have literally yelled at me for saying that because they do believe their job is a calling and they are willing to sacrifice their lives for it.  Well, I am not, and I am not willing to promote that way of life either! Your life, your family, your health, should all have a much higher priority than your job.  Work is important and satisfying, but it is not your life. It is a way to earn money so you can have a life.

So, who is it that gives us permission to take care of ourselves?  It has to be ourselves!

You see, the mission you have been on - the one given to you by society, by the culture you presently work in, and your family of origin - is to "always" be good and helpful and to accomplish much.  The killer word here is always.  As well, there is the belief that your work is not only an extension of you, but that it is you.  To change this requires a huge "leap of faith", a new way of thinking; one that states that, "the healthier you are - the more you have to give others".


Remember: if you have a better and healthier life, the system you work in has a better and healthier worker, which makes the overall system better and healthier. Hence, Two Winners.

If you are looking for appreciation, satisfaction and an abundance of strokes from your job instead of from your Real Life - as the song states, you are "Looking in All the Wrong Places". Be sure you have the telephone number of a good lawyer for your failing marriage, a golf/Pilates buddy who is also a therapist so you can save yourself a lot of money on counselling, and lots of term insurance for those who are left behind after you have worked yourself to death - you'll need them all!

It's ironic that we look for strokes to fill our love, acceptance and fulfillment "pot" from a system (workplace) that, for the most part, is totally incapable of fulfilling those needs, and neglect those who actually could deliver the goods.

Did You Know

That eight out of ten of the most commonly used medications in the U.S. treat conditions directly related to stress: antidepressants, antianxiety medications, sleeping pills, and medications for gastric problems and high blood pressure.

Communication-The Four D's

Conversation is typically classified into four D's;
Dialogue (when one truly expresses oneself - Thoughts, Feelings, Values, Beliefs),
Discussion (mostly surface talk. You stay away from people's innermost T, F, V, B),
Debate (is competitive; it's about winning), and
Deliberation (a form of purposeful thought and reflection).

Dialogue has two main objectives; to strengthen relationships and to solve problems. For dialogue to take place, three core requirements must be satisfied: Empathetic Listening, Equality in Dialogue, and being Non-Judgmental (other people's assumptions, beliefs, etc.). When all three are met, conversation is transformed into dialogue.

     Empathetic Listening is the ability of the listener to respond with unreserved empathy to the views of others. The gift of empathy - the ability to think someone else's thoughts and feel someone else's feelings - is indispensable to dialogue. Oh, there can be discussion without participants responding empathetically to one another, but then it is discussion, not dialogue. This is why discussion is more common than dialogue: people find it easy to express their opinions and bad ideas back and forth with others, but most of the time they do not have either the motivation or the patience to respond empathetically to opinions with which they may disagree or find oppositional.

     Equality in Dialogue means that status differences and negative influences are absent, so that participants can weigh one another's points of view on their intrinsic merits, rather than on the authority, power, or prestige of the speaker.

     Dialogue is concerned with bringing forth people's most deep-rooted assumptions/values/beliefs/thoughts/feelings and not judging, criticizing, or in any way attacking those offerings. In dialogue, participants are encouraged to examine their assumptions and those of other participants. Dialogue requires that participants be uninhibited and bring their own and other participants' assumptions into the open where, within the safe confines of the dialogue, others can respond to them without challenging them or reacting to them judgmentally. These assumptions are shared and are not to be dismissed out of hand, but considered with respect even when participants disagree with them.

Discussions are more about banter, so people usually stay away from other people's innermost assumptions because to highlight them is thought to be impolite.

Debate is the opposite of dialogue:

* Debate assumes that there is a right answer and that the debater has it.
Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together a solution can be crafted.

* Debate is combative: participants attempt to prove the other side wrong.
Dialogue is collaborative: participants work together toward a common understanding.

* Debate is about winning.
Dialogue is about exploring common ground.

* Debate assumptions are presented as true.
Dialogue challenges assumptions for re-evaluation.

* Debate critiques the other side's position.
Dialogue re-examines all positions.

* Debate defends one's own views against those of others.
Dialogue admits that others' thinking can improve one's own.

* Debate searches for flaws and weaknesses in others' positions.
Dialogue searches for strengths and value in others' positions.

* Debate seeks a conclusion or vote that ratifies the debater's position.
Dialogue discovers new options, and does not seek closure.

Deliberation is a form of thought and reflection that can take place in any kind of conversation. It allows us time to hear and digest what has actually been said.

Did You Know

That the world has changed so much but our nervous systems haven't. That is the reason we are "under such stress."

Some stress is not a bad thing; we need challenge. We feel best when the activities we engage in require us to stretch our abilities. Both physical and mental exercise is good for us. What is not good for us are those activities that we perceive to be less than positive, (maybe even negative), and do them consistently. Sameness - doing the same things over and over again - is also deadly (stressful). Hans Selye, the grandfather of the stress movement, says, "We need variety and spice to be healthy".

Reader Response

Dan, the piece on Sixties Scoop (Vol. #97) to put it nicely is pure Hogwash! Written by the Frontier Centre for Policy a Conservative "think" tank with a large bias!! Many, many of those children were simply taken, period, end of, no viable reasons. The articles depictions of Reserve life is deplorable And self-serving. Giving the government a supposed reason to "help and Protect" the children, 1. Who helped create the conditions on the reserve? The government policies and actions towards Indigenous people?! 2. If this was a valid why were no other communities beside Indigenous ones targeted? Are we to believe these conditions and poor helpless children only existed amongst the Indigenous communities? Again Bull! They existed elsewhere but those kids were white, God forgive we should Scoop up white kids! Does anyone believe that if things were reversed White communities would not be equally upset that their kids were being taken and adopted out to other cultural groups!
Seems like the bottom line is for present and future governments not to be on the hook for the money/debt owed. Seems like Conservatives never want to pay money out or take responsibility for past wrongdoing!
I could go on but for now I think the point is made Mr. Geisbrecht is biased, presents a very slanted view with a hidden political agenda!    Scott

Did You Know

That there is essentially a conflict between what our bodies and brains were naturally designed for and what life makes us put up with now - the breakdown of family and community; the lack of meaningful work, of contact with nature, of natural sleep, of physical intimacy, of exercise; the intrusion of increased traffic, cell phones, mortgages, and an attitude of "do more with less" at the workplace. We can't run away from, or beat the problems with clubs, as our bodies were designed to do way back in time. Under chronic stress, our neurotransmitters, hormones, and other "information substances" go haywire, affecting our immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and causing emotional distress and physical illness.

My wife and I were watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire while we were in bed.
I turned to her and said, "Do you want to have Sex?"
"No" she answered. I then said, "Is that your final answer?"
She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying "yes..."
So I said, "Then I would like to phone a friend."
And then the fight started...

Next week Newsletter #100. Stay tuned.