Tag Archives: care

The Linchpin To Balance: Boundaries

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post]

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Setting and communicating clear boundaries is the fulcrum to creating sustainable balance in whatever way you define balance for yourself (and for your team if you are a manager). Odds are strong that when you are feeling out of balance, it has to do with values. Sometimes it’s because your values may feel threatened, or you have gotten away from them, and a lot of the time it is has to do with the boundaries you set (or don’t set) to protect and honor your values.

This is just as much true at work as it is outside of work. On a simple level, boundaries teach other people what your values are and how to treat you. Communicating your boundaries helps those in your life to be clear around how to treat you, what your limits are and how far you are willing to go (or not go) in certain situations and circumstances. At work, boundaries keep you clear on your business purpose, priorities, and time management. Regardless of whether or not they are talked about at work -boundaries exist in the workplace.

Boundaries are tricky because you cannot see, smell, taste, or touch a boundary, but you know when it has been crossed, and you know when you are in a relationship with someone at work who is crossing the line. A good indication someone has crossed the line with you is that you might find yourself pretending that you didn’t actually see what you saw or hear what you heard in order to avoid conflict or confrontation. For example, “I can’t believe he sent that as a text message!” or “I can’t believe he said that to the room of customers.” Or, “That’s not part of my job!”

Before you can set and maintain workplace boundaries it’s important to figure out what you need. For most people, not much conscious attention is paid to how, why and what boundaries we set at and about our work. Boundaries as they apply to work can be divided into team boundaries and individual boundaries.

At the team level the best example of a boundary is a job description. (We all know what happens when one is not clear — it causes confusion, frustration and the team is not very productive.) Other common boundaries include your actual work and workflow. Question to help define team boundaries include clarity around reporting structure and who generates assignments, which isn’t always the same in many offices. Also worth considering is who sets your work priorities? (Answer: it’s a trick question as often times many people play a role.)

At the individual level the best example of a boundary is when you arrive and leave “work,” which in today’s world doesn’t always mean a physical space. Other commons boundaries include accepting meetings over lunch or breakfast, blocking time out for yourself to do work, attending (or not attending) every meeting you are invited to, how often you work from home and if you take vacation (and work from vacation).

When setting and maintaining boundaries, it is helpful to become aware of the choices you make around your needs and see where your actions support what you need. Answer the questions for yourself. Share the questions with your team and your family. Be consistent about the boundaries you set and have the courage to have the conversation.

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Treat Yourself Like You Would A Loved One

By Chelsea Elkins, Program & Marketing Manager

Why do we say or do things to ourselves that we would never in a million years say or do to someone else? Why do we treat our loved ones infinitely better than we treat ourselves?

Ultimately, it comes down to vegetables. Do parents force their children to eat vegetables because they want to share their deep, insatiable passion for the food group? Likely the answer is no. Parents incorporate vegetables into their children’s diets because it undeniably benefits their health. Why then do many parents neglect leafy greens in their own regiments as soon as their kids have left the nest? My guess is, whether consciously or sub-consciously, they simply do not believe their own health is as important as the health of their kids. A statement I’m sure their children would heatedly and wholeheartedly disagree with.

How we treat ourselves can easily become a source of conflict in relationships, especially if we witness a destructive, powerful habit in our loved one (even if these same habits are ones we are guilty of ourselves). Distressed and unsure of what to do we try to “fix”, conveniently forgetting that we cannot change another being, just as our loved ones cannot change us. We are powerless to help others unless they have chosen to help themselves first. The only thing we can fix, all that we can control is how we treat ourselves and how we treat those around us.

In other words, we must be role models. If we encourage certain habits in those we care most deeply about, we should make sure we are in the habit of doing those things ourselves. The opposite is also true. If we discourage a loved one from carrying out a particular action, odds are that is something we ourselves should avoid. Most of us would never berate our sibling for a solid week about losing out on a promotion at work. Nor would we brutally cut down a dear friend because she didn’t lose those 5 pounds before swimsuit season. And we probably, on most nights, wouldn’t pour a fifth beer down our sweet grandmother’s throat.

It is important to remember that just as we adore our loved ones, we are likewise the object of someone’s loving attention.

My suggestion is simple: Be gentle, take time, be conscious. Be as compassionate to yourself as you are to your 6-year-old niece when she falls and scrapes her knee. Treat your body, your mind, your spirit like you would your most precious loved one if they entrusted their care to you.

And perhaps those around you will follow suit.

 

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The Power of Care at Work

By Sameer Bhangar, Simple Intentions Awareness Consultant

hands caringI met with someone this week who spoke about how much she admired her current leader, a Vice President in a large technology company. I was curious what she admired about him. She described him as a visionary, motivator, excellent communicator, and other goodness associated with capable leaders. She genuinely meant all of them.

Then she paused, and from a more heartfelt place added, “And he genuinely cares!”

This really struck me, that what appealed to her most about the leader of her group, someone she truly admired and respected, came down to his genuine care – for the vision, the work, and most of all, for the people on his team.

In my own experience leading team workshops, I often start by sharing my experience in technology along with my transition into team culture-related roles. I always plan on saying that for me, the underlying motivation for this transition is simply that I genuinely care. I care about how we bring our so-called authentic selves to work. I care about finding greater meaning at work.

What’s interesting is that I rarely actually say this. Something in me, in the moment, totally forgets to share this aspect about genuinely caring. Instead, I stick to the bullet points on my resume. I don’t know why, but sharing how I care about people’s well-being with a bunch of people I’m meeting for the first time feels vulnerable. And yet, the occasions when I do express how much I care – about the process, people, ups and downs, outcomes, learnings, conversation, all of it – it resonates with the group and brings us closer.

Considering this for yourself, I offer two questions:

  1. Do you genuinely care about what you’re working on and with whom you work?
    None of us will care one hundred percent of the time about every aspect of our role. But somewhere underneath the details, is there a thread of genuine care?
  2. If your answer is “yes,” then have you communicated this to those you serve? Do they know what you care about? If it feels uncomfortable to share this in a genuine way, you might be on the right track. It’s often our willingness to step into this discomfort and awkwardness that pushes us to deeper connection and ultimately stronger trust.

And if your answer is, “No, I don’t really care,” then what are you doing about it?

I wonder if what the industry often describes as burn-out, disempowerment, disengagement is in many ways a reflection of how much we truly care. In any case, it might be a useful place to start: If you find you no longer care about the people, project, company, or environment you’re in, then what is the conversation you need to have to create a shift for yourself? Over time, I believe we will all go through natural cycles of genuine caring and some levels of disinterest. The question is, are you aware of this and how are you including it in your thinking and conversations?

Just like the individual I met with last week, you may touch people more deeply with how much you genuinely care than how buttoned-up you are with the details of your vision and strategy.

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