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4 Taboo Workplace Words

August 28, 2014

By Jeanine Izzo

Energy Chart Partial

There are some words in the workplace that are notoriously taboo even though they are human realities.  Even though the corporate context tends to focus on the unproductive elements, they all have productive elements as well.  Let’s take a look.

1.       Energy

Scientifically, we are energetic beings.  The destructive, unproductive, negative type of energy is called catabolic, and the restorative, productive building energy is called anabolic.  This means our energy works for us or against us…physically, emotionally and intellectually.  Bruce Schneider, founder of the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching, created a chart (partial image above) which highlights seven levels of energy.   Levels one and two are that catabolic negative energy that gets in the way of productivity (i.e. why is this happening to me.  They don’t know what they are doing.  My boss is a jerk).  As we begin to increase our energy to engage levels three and above, the weight of the lower levels begins to lessen and productivity (and enjoyment) elevates (i.e. they’re doing the best they can, here’s what I can do to help, I see some benefits to the direction we are heading).

Forward Moving Tip:   Instead of ignoring energy as a concept, work to understand how it impacts employee engagement and action.

(If you are interested in learning more an about an assessment that shows how energy is showing up for you and your team, contact Viage Partners.  www.ViagePartners.com)

2.       Emotion

Another characteristic of being alive is the expression of emotion.  Again, this runs the gamut from productive to destructive.  Emotions, when channeled the right way are as big of an asset to companies as they are a detriment when they are destructive.  In order to develop enhanced skill sets, we have to acknowledge the presence of emotion in the workplace because it has the ability to stall or propel efforts.  Note, it’s common to focus on the feelings that we express or that we perceive others to be expressing and leave it at the surface level, however there is a preceding thought that generates the emotion.  For example, an outer  ” This is ridiculous!” can stem from an inner “I have a better way to do this but no one is listening to me.”

Forward Moving Tip:  Probe for the thought that generates the feelings or emotion to better enable effective communication.

3.       Fear

Fear is an unspoken reality with a population that abides by the “never let ‘em see you sweat” motto.  The truth is that fear can paralyze movement, and denying or ignoring its presence goes beyond paralysis to allow for active or unintentional destructive behavior which drains employees and eats away at corporate profits.

Forward Moving Tip:  Click here for a more in depth look at fear in the workplace.  https://viagepartners.com/2013/08/21/in-spite-of-fear/

4.       Failure 

As a project manager, my peers and I would present project status, needs and recommendations to senior staff on a monthly basis.  Some of us had different ideas on what constituted a failure.  Was it having a project fall short…or failing to communicate early on a project that is falling short?  More than once, I felt that I was treated as an alarmist when I brought challenges up early…despite the fact that I was able to get the support I needed, put the train back on the tracks and ultimately meet (or beat) the overall expectations.  Earlier this year while at an executive conference, there was a lot of frustration among executives around their Project Managers not telling the truth early enough.  Hopefully, you can see the irony and the opportunity with the ‘failure’ conversation.

Forward Moving Tip:   Even though set backs are a part of work/life, no one wants to feel like a failure.  Instead of chastising your staff and team members for slips and dips, support them to find solutions and to learn and grow from events that did not go as planned.

Instead of minimizing the presence, need and discussion around these realities of being human (energy, emotion, fear and failure), increase the success of your teams by creating progressive, forward moving, dialogue and action.

What other taboo words would you like to see re-framed in the workplace? (comment below)

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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