Posts Tagged ‘communication’

What Roles Have You Chosen to Play?

August 19, 2015

In a recent workshop, I asked the attendees to think about some of the roles they play in their relationships; personal and professional. The resulting discussion was very interesting and also very revealing.

We all have chosen to play certain roles in our relationships, and we have fallen into those roles for various reasons. If everyone in any relationship is satisfied with the arrangement and it works for all concerned, there is no problem. But if someone feels compromised or less than satisfied with the way things work, it’s probably not healthy and sooner or later, something’s got to give!

Here are some of the relationship roles that people in the workshop listed as problematic. Read them and decide if any of them are familiar to you:

The Enabler: Has a strong need to take care of and please other people, allowing them to get away with negative or abusive behavior. It is easy to become addicted to approval and that is a sure path to low self-esteem.

The Excuse Giver: Woe be unto those who are in a relationship with one who plays the Excuse Card on a regular basis. This person has a well-stocked pantry of reasons why he did or did not or is not able to do something. The Excuse Giver is always well prepared and hones his craft diligently.

The Bully: Sadly, the world will always have bullies. They are Mr. or Mrs. Bossy-Pants and try to establish their leadership through intimidation and being mean-spirited.

The Whiner: When a whiner is in the mix, there is a constant need to call a Waaaaambulance! No relationship is enhanced by someone who consistently contributes to Global Whining!

The Rescuer/Fixer: Inadvertently keeps other people in a dependent position. When we rush in to be someone’s savior, we are sending a message that the other person is not capable of managing his own affairs. When someone constantly arrives to make everything OK for another person, the fixer is depriving him of being accountable for his own life and well-being. Serial rescuers need to take a look at their own motives for their actions and make sure they are not allowing their egos to dictate their behavior.

The Enforcer: Plays the role of “policeman” by monitoring other people’s actions. Unless the relationship involves a minor child, the enforcer needs to stay in a Clint Eastwood movie!

The Punisher: Tries to make other people stay in line by manipulation and threats. We all know these people! These are the ones who make you feel as if you will pay the price if you don’t do what they say! It can run the gamut from the silent treatment to payback!

The Guilt-Giver: Gives guilt; the gift that keeps on giving! If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who acts as a travel agent for guilt trips, you know what it’s like!

The Martyr: Risks his or her own mental or physical health while putting everyone else’s needs ahead of his or her own. There are no medals given for being a martyr and anyone who plays this role in a relationship should realize that when someone drops from taking on everyone else’s responsibilities…people usually just say things like, “Wow, she should have taken better care of herself!”

Throughout life, we all search for our place in our relationships and hopefully, choose more positive roles than those mentioned above. If you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions, you may want to reassess your role choices. We also occasionally encounter people with whom we work or socialize that fill some of those less than desirable roles. We can’t change other people…unless they are in diapers…but we can choose how we deal with them. Choose Wisely!


July 27, 2015

I recently wrote about what Gen Xers and Boomers need to know about Millennials in the workplace. In that article, I promised to present the other side and here it is! There is a huge age span out there in the workforce now and sometimes there is a difference in communication and work styles. Part of the problem may be that the Millennials look at Boomers and see their parents and the Boomers see their kids in the Millennials.

It is projected that in a very short time, Millennials or Gen Yers will be the largest age group in the workforce. But now, they are sharing it with Gen Xers, Boomers and even some Traditionals. People are continuing in their careers longer than past generations and the new crop of workers, those born between the mid nineties and 2000, will soon be in there with us!

We all are coming from different experiences and backgrounds, and I know that some older people can be too quick to judge the younger ones, so here are some tips for Millennials who are sharing office space with Boomers:

  • As a Millennial, keep in mind that those in older generations still have a lot to offer. They may have a few years on you, but they also are rich in experience and can be valuable resources. Boomers and Gen Xers don’t want to feel as if you are just waiting for them to leave. Ask them about their experiences, they probably have some good advice and some pretty good stories!
  • Remember that Traditionals, Baby Boomers and even some Gen Xers were once the youngest people in the workforce. We didn’t always understand the “old folks” who were set in their ways and probably wondered why they didn’t move on and let us run the show. Now we know how those “old folks” felt! Try to understand how we feel. Today’s Boomers are not our parents….we aren’t content to sit on the porch and rock. And remember that there will be a new generation coming in after you and one day you will be where we are. There are already Gen Zers out there on your heels!
  • Don’t get frustrated with those of us who weren’t born into technology. Remember that most of us grew up using dictionaries and looking things up in encyclopedias. We used pay phones that we had to dial and our first cell phones were giant bricks which could double as weapons. Sure, we may take a little longer to catch on to the constantly changing gadgets, but we eventually get there. Most of us have even thrown out our boom boxes! If you don’t know what a boom box is, you are younger than most of my shoes.
  • Just as the older generations shouldn’t assume anything or be judgmental about the younger ones, neither should the Millennials lump all of the older people together. We don’t all raise our eyebrows at your piercings and tattoos. Actually, I have a tat…but it is a lot lower than it used to be! What started out as a little hummingbird is now a flamingo.
  • The older generation comes from a culture of face-to-face communication. Some still hold on to that habit and are more likely to want to talk to someone in person, rather than via text. That doesn’t mean that they don’t understand electronic conversations, it’s just more comfortable for some of them to look at a person’s face when they are talking to them.
  • For your consideration: Most of the Boomer generation was brought up in a work culture in which a person stayed with a company and worked their way up. There was no such thing as tele-commuting or flexible hours. Required office attire involved suits for the men and dresses and hose for the women. This is a whole new ballgame for some people and it may take them a while to get used to a more casual workplace.

The truth is that no one, no matter their age, wants to be labeled or pigeon-holed as behaving or believing a certain way. I even question naming each group; Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, etc. The generational mix can be exciting and productive. The world is changing rapidly and the next group of young workers entering the workplace in a few years will be the first totally global generation. We all bring something to the table and all of us should treat each other with R.E.S.P.E.C.T. That’s what Aretha told us to do. And she is a Baby Boomer.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, coach and speaker who presents keynotes and workshops on Managing the Generational Mix and Zapping the Gap! Visit her website at

Please Come To My Pity Party

July 2, 2015


You are cordially invited to attend a celebration of misery.

Guest of Honor: Me

Time: Whenever I feel like it

Place: Anywhere I happen to be when the self-pity hits me

Come and help me wade and wallow in the wastewater of worldly woe!

There will be no entertainment because I am to be the center of attention.

Whine will be served. 

How would you like to receive an invitation like this in the mail? Would you want to attend? Probably not, yet people extend such invitations all of the time! We all love to moan and groan every now and then and it makes it a lot more gratifying to have an audience. When we are wading and wallowing in our woe, the last thing we want is for someone to tell us to cheer up because every cloud has a silver lining. Personally, when I’m contributing to Global Whining, I don’t want any stupid silver lining…I want sympathy and I want it now!!

Part of the fun of being human and imperfect is that it’s acceptable to feel lousy sometimes. The trick is to feel it, wallow in it for a little while and then move on without spoiling everyone else’s day…or week…or month….or life.

Friends will usually sympathize and comfort you for a while, but after the appropriate pity party period of time has come and gone…so will your friends. That’s healthy because a true friend will stick by you when you really need it, but will also give you a clear message that it’s time to put on your grown-up pants and deal with life, when you’ve stretched the Whine Festival long enough.

We all know people that cause us to run in the other direction when we see them coming toward us. We do this because that person is always going to have a problem and life will never be treating them fairly. They also feel the need to share this with everyone in their path.  Remember that you do not want to be one of these carriers of bad tidings! You want people to be glad to see you, not hide in closets as you walk down the hall. Nobody will fault you for having a genuine problem and feeling blue, and most will be glad and even honored to give you emotional support in your time of need. But to constantly be a beast of burdens and to always be bemoaning your fate is to cause others to doubt when you are really and truly in need of help.

Life is a roller coaster and we have to stay on it through the dips as well as the highs. When you stop to think about it, that’s OK because without the dips, a roller coaster would be pretty boring and you’d probably want your money back. So try to hang on and celebrate the dips because it makes the highs that much better. And the next time you think about throwing a pity party for yourself, try to remember that it’s hard to get people to attend and they usually don’t bring gifts.

Disconnect and then Connect

June 4, 2015

We live in a techno-world! Wherever you are at this moment, take a look around and see how many people in your immediate area are plugged into an electronic device and tuned out of what’s going on around them.

Technology definitely has its place and in many ways, it has made life easier, but the drawback is that we have forgotten how to talk to each other face to face. People sit across from each other in restaurants and if they aren’t looking at their phones, they have them sitting right on the table so they can catch every FB update, text message, instagram or e-mail that might come through.

The way things are going, gradually, the art of conversation will be a distant memory! Our kids may be able to text with rapidly firing fingers, but I feel we are nurturing a generation of people with over-developed texting thumbs who have no idea how to converse without their electronic devices!

Maybe it is time to unplug and get back to the gratifying experience of actually looking at the person to whom we are speaking…watching their facial expressions, laughing together (not LOL but really laughing!) and listening to their voice when they are talking to us! Part of conversing with another human being is having the opportunity to be in the moment; reacting to each other’s comments and gaining insight into the other person’s feelings.

Communication is critical in keeping any relationship strong; whether it is personal or in business. While it is true that digital communication is sometimes necessary, it would be a shame if it caused conversation to become extinct. Talking to people face-to-face is a sublime experience that should be valued and enjoyed. When we “talk” electronically, sometimes we’re not as mindful of what we are saying as we would be if we were looking another person in the eye.

In my communication seminars, we explore the value of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I have found that some people are initially uncomfortable in the face-to-face communication exercises that we do. But after a while, they are laughing, talking and raving about how much they enjoyed disconnecting from their electronics and actually connecting with real live humans!

It has been said that “A conversation is so much more than words; it is the eyes, the smiles and the silences between the words.” Try it….you’ll like it!

Embrace the Detours

November 17, 2011

Sometimes we get on a path and we think we know where we’re going. We have it all planned….the route we’re going to take and how long it will take us to get there. Then, all of the sudden…WHAMMO! Something happens; a road block or a detour. We’re suddenly thrown into a tailspin as we realize that we have to go a different way and change our carefully laid plans.  This is true in driving and it is also true about life in general.   People don’t like change.  We don’t accept it readily and we fight it.  While driving, I have actually seen people get out of their cars and argue with orange cones.  The cones don’t care…they are cones of silence.  Now that I think of it….I, myself, have thrown out some harsh words at detour signs. It never does me any good because it doesn’t change anything, I can do nothing about it and I still have to take the detour.  And sometimes, I find that the different route takes me to places that I never would have seen otherwise, and I actually enjoy the scenery.  I guess I owe some of those signs an apology.

The same goes for detours in life.  There are many quotes about the uncertainty of life; like “Life is what happens while you are busy planning other things.” and “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”   I’m not really sure exactly what that one means, but I guess people and rodents often get stuck in mazes and have to find their way out. All of nature is subject to unforeseen influences and “stuff happens.”  We experience roadblocks and detours along the way and they can either make us or break us. It depends on how flexible we are and how willing we are to go with the flow.  When life throws us a curve, we can either emulate Rumplestiltskin or throw a tantrum or we can put on our big girl pants and look at the situation as an opportunity to grow.

I once drove on the highway behind a van full of children. After driving behind them for a few hours, I noticed that they were busily working on something. In a few minutes, a sign appeared in the back windshield. It was lettered in crayon and in a childish scrawl. It read “Help us please. We have to pee and daddy won’t stop.”  I guess Daddy was determined to reach his destination and didn’t want to make a detour.  Too bad….because he probably missed some nice scenery.