Posts Tagged ‘Workforce’

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

Gull, Goose or Eagle….Choose Your Bird Behavior

September 4, 2014

I think people would be better off if they acted more like birds. Birds are very cool and clever and they do not deserve to be insulted by our derogatory terms like “bird brain” which imply that our little feathered friends are not intelligent. I believe that birds are even ahead of humans in technology; after all, they were “tweeting” long before we ever knew about Twitter!

Actually, birds reflect some behavior that we people would do well to model. However, I’d stay away from the selfish ways of the Seagulls. Although I love them and they are beautiful to watch as they soar above the ocean and then dive down with lightning speed to scoop up a fish which will become dinner, it seems as if they become rather vicious when they see something they want. Remember the movie Finding Nemo and the seagulls screaming “Mine Mine Mine” when fighting over food?

Although it is not the behavior we should emulate, I have seen similar human activity in a buffet line….but I digress.

Moving on to geese; we are all aware of the mystical V formation in which they fly. It is awesomely amazing to me that geese don’t typically fly alone, but tend to thrive in flocks and families. They fly in formation to distribute the hardship of travel. Of course, the front goose in the center point of the V meets with the greatest wind resistance, so the position is rotated every few minutes and the group can fly for long distances without rest. This begs the question: Why can geese figure this out, but it is next to impossible for a woman to get a man to stop the car at a rest stop at least once during an eight hour car trip?
If a goose becomes too tired or ill to continue the flight, it will drop out of formation WITH A HEALTHY GOOSE ESCORT and be grounded until it is able to continue. No one is abandoned. Wouldn’t it be great if all people stuck by each other and put their own agendas aside to assist someone who needed help? Talk about teamwork!

Is there a more glorious bird than the eagle? And they have much to teach us, as well. Eagles don’t panic and get tossed about in bad weather. When the winds come, they simply set their wings and are lifted above the storm. They don’t avoid the storm; they rise on the winds and fly above it. How much we could learn from them!

We can choose our bird behavior. Personally, I would love to have the freedom and agility of a seagull, the loyalty of a goose and the ability to weather storms like an eagle. Now, if I could just get rid of my turkey neck!

You Can’t Keep Looking to the Back of the Book for the Answers!

December 4, 2012

The Broadway musical, “Thirteen” is a show about young people coming of age and the rites of passage associated with becoming a teenager.


In one of the numbers, a boy sings a metaphorical song about how he’s been looking in the back of the book for the answers about life, but he is learning that he will have to hang in there until the whole story ends; because he has a little more homework to do. Of course, this is how a thirteen-year-old would think, because when we are that age; going to school, completing assignments and taking tests is a large part of our existence!


I like that.  I know that sometimes I am in such a rush to find out how things are going to work out, or I am in a hurry to “fix” a situation, and I become frustrated when things don’t go according to my time table. After all….doesn’t the world know who I am and what results I need and deserve???


I think we all continue to go through rites of passage throughout our lives…it doesn’t end when we become adults. Hopefully, we continue to grow and mature in the way we think and the way we deal with life situations.  Sometimes, it is necessary to go through some tough times in order to get to a stronger and healthier place emotionally.


I guess I like the song from “Thirteen” because I can relate to it. I remember being exactly that age and totally non-interested; and therefore, inept in algebra. As a result, I didn’t even try to understand it. I truly did just look in the back of the book for the answers without even attempting to work the problems on my own. I fought against doing my homework, thinking that I could skip the hard stuff and come out okay. Ding Dong, I was wrong.  Turns out that when they give you the test, they expect you to know how to figure things out and they don’t let you use the book!  Oops…..I ended up having to take the entire class over again and it wasn’t any more fun the second time! If I had tried a little patience and not skipped to the back of the book, I probably would have saved myself a lot of frustration.


Even now, I often want to take shortcuts. I am not willing to do what needs to be done in order to get to where I need to be. I want the answers NOW! In other words, I want to go from A to Z and be done with it. I don’t want to go through any tough times. I do not want to do my homework. Getting past the pain, avoiding the emotional roller coaster or achieving the results I want seem to hold more importance than the process of getting there. I rebel at the concept of my spiritual ore being tempered and purified into real gold. I want to shine IMMEDIATELY!


We all think it would be lovely to just sail through life and bypass any trials, challenges or struggles. But lessons are not learned only through successes; sometimes the greater knowledge comes from the journey. If someone is always there to give us the answers, we never find our inner strength which comes from working through the problems ourselves and coming out the other side.