Category: Communication

     Besides their good looks and the assortment of talents, what do Ryan Gosling, Woody Harrelson, Adam Levin, and Jim Caviezel have in common?

Well, although La La Land, the 2016 motion picture starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone delighted many audiences and brought home Oscar Awards in six categories, in our trivia quiz, it doesn’t get the cake. The answer is also not that they are all male actors, because in spite of his many talents, Adam Levin is a musician and not a Hollywood actor (yet). The answer is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.   Yes, all of the individuals listed above have received a formal diagnosis of ADHD or ADD at some point in their lives.


     In an era where psychological disorders are unfortunately still not a topic at the dinner table because of the various mental health care barriers such as limited availability and affordability of mental health care services, insufficient mental health care policies, lack of education about mental illness, and stigma, it is encouraging to know that successful public figures, are paving the way for this vicious trend to change. Mental disorders have been a true silent killer for decades also because they are not immediately fatal. Millions of people in the US alone are suffering in silence because our Individualistic society, encourages independence over asking for help. In developed countries, the treatment gap (the percentage of individuals who need mental health care but do not receive treatment) ranges from 44% to 70%). According to Unite for Sight, The World Health Organization cites a global lack of comprehensive mental health policies, which are crucial for implementing and coordinating mental health care services, as a key barrier to public access to mental health care. Among countries with mental health care policies in place, approximately 40% have not been revised since 1990 and do not address recent developments in mental health care. Furthermore, 22% of countries do not have laws that offer legal protection of the human and civil rights of people with mental illnesses. Let’s face it, if someone, especially an adult is already feeling helpless because their symptoms are inexplicable and are effecting their daily lives, including their employment, making them feel alone and different, they are already at odds with getting the attention they need. Now add to that the myriad of hurdles they are faced with as mentioned above and what you have is a lifetime of struggles, possible isolation and unmet potentials. Fortunately, in the U.S. there are a number of federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities, including mental health illnesses. The main one is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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     ADHD, one such psychological disorder is a common neurobiological condition, which is usually supposed to be diagnosed in childhood. Originally it was thought people would “outgrow” the condition as adults. However, 60% to 90% of adults continue to experience symptoms (Barkley et al; de Graaf et al). Both Emotion Management one of the four dimensions of Emotional Intelligence which aids in reading emotions in yourself and in others, and managing them effectively, as well as Executive Functioning (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes, including attentional control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, as well as reasoning, problem solving, and planning, that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior. The selection and successfully monitoring of behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals are thought to be functions impaired by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder both in children and in adults and there various severe consequences to deficits in EI and Executive Functioning that negatively impact individuals including those with ADD or ADHD.

     Diagnosis of ADHD or children’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are now certainly more frequently noted, due hugely in part to the role of government funding of school support programs, involved parenting and teacher education. However, this wasn’t always the case. In some children, now adults, especially those belonging to the Xer generation , this diagnosis was delayed or perhaps never given. There are several explanations for this. One explanation is that especially in Generation Xers (those born between 1965-1980), because there was an increase in dual income parents, the prevalence of Latch Key Kids, or children who were raised with less adult supervision than prior generations increased, which meant psychological disorder like ADHD in children 5-13 were less likely to be noticed by parents at that time. Then of course, in adulthood years, an ADD diagnosis can easily be missed due to gender, and or comorbid depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and/or other psychiatric conditions.

     Although ADD is still thought of as something that affects only men and boys, women are just as likely as men to have ADD. In fact, the latest research suggests that ADD causes women even greater emotional turmoil than their male counterparts. Consequently, ADD women are more likely to go undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed), and hence less likely to receive the appropriate treatment.

     According to Dr. Fred Reimherr, M.D., director of the University of Utah Mood Disorders Clinic, ADD has a disproportionate impact on women. “The women had a much more frequent history of having been diagnosed with other emotionally based psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. A woman might come in presenting emotional symptoms, and the ADD that’s underneath might be missed.”

     Under-diagnosis of ADD in women could be having its roots in social norms in childhood. Because girls generally tend to try harder than their male counterparts, if they have symptoms of ADD, they will try to compensate for and cover them up. To keep up their grades, girls are often more willing to put in extra hours to study or to turn to others for help.

In addition, girls are more likely to be “people pleasers,” doing all they can to fit in, even when they feel they are “different.”


     Overall, whether male or female, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults can be hard to spot and no single test can confirm the diagnosis”. Impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization, restlessness, emotional outbursts; in children, these symptoms would be recognized by a teacher, and the parents would be referred to a medical professional for an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) evaluation. However, in adults, these symptoms may lead to people getting fired, getting divorced, or simply being labeled as lazy or irrationally angry. Many people with ADHD struggle with controlling the outcome of their actions and then have to face the consequences.

     A recent World Health Organization (WHO) study estimated that 3% to 4% of adults worldwide have ADHD, with a rate of 4.5% in the United States (de Graaf et al, 2008). Of those, a large number—possibly 8 million to 10 million—are undiagnosed. Millions more do not receive appropriate treatment (Barkley, Murphy, & Fischer, 2008). The WHO study also reported that adults with ADHD miss an average of more than three weeks in workplace productivity yearly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) has estimated the costs of such work loss to be at $3.7 billion.

     Problems associated with ADD most commonly occur during college years, at work, and in interpersonal relationships. ADHD usually interferes with the individual’s sense of self-control and sense of self-efficacy, thereby affecting his or her ability to establish and follow-through on reasonable goals, deadlines and promises.   Small tasks considered simple to others, could be a cause for problems in adults with ADD that can lead to bigger problems in various life domains. Examples include procrastination, poor time-management, disorganization with space, thought formation, and even speaking, distractibility, and poor emotional regulation.

     At the Center for Work Life Within Dr. Namin’s practice, many work-life issues are intertwined. An employee may be self-referred because he or she feels overwhelmed with stress, or burned-out, or because they don’t feel productive anymore. Or they may be referred by their employer, because in spite of their incredible knowledge, skills and proficiencies of their specific jobs, their co-workers or worst yet, their direct reports don’t feel they have the interpersonal skills necessary for leadership. During initial discussions, it usually becomes apparent, that they have s messy work area, trouble initiating tasks at home or starting and finishing projects at home and/or work, chronic lateness, underestimating the time needed to complete tasks, an inability to focus and listen during discussions whether at home or at work, and forgetting or missing deadlines or previous engagements.

     However, in addition to these common symptoms of distractibility and impulsivity, ADD symptoms may manifest as problems in impaired ability to plan and prioritize tasks and jumping from one task to another and not completing either. These are what’s called executive functioning abilities.

Employees with ADHD are rated lower on work performance, are more prone to receiving disciplinary notices from supervisors, are paid lower salaries, and produce lower quality work (Barkley et al; Ramsay, 2010). The truth is that Adult ADHD is rarely recognized in the workplace, and those with the condition may be labeled as anti-social, or poor performing employees or horrible bosses, that are at best tolerated, and at worst terminated, depending what their skill-sets are, making career advancement or even maintaining consistent employment difficult.  According to the BMJ Journal, ADHD was associated with a statistically significant 22.1 annual days of excess lost role performance compared to otherwise similar respondents without ADHD.


       Considering we spend so many of our days and waking hours at work, our perceptions of life are hugely related to not only our performance but also our relationships at work. In a study measuring the effects of ADHD on perceptions of life satisfaction, among males, poor social functioning was the best predictor of dissatisfaction with life, whereas among females it was poor emotional control. Both ADHD symptoms and associated problems are significantly related to poorer satisfaction with life.


     It may be interesting but not surprising, when a top-performing employee or C-level executive with a tenure of 8-10 years is referred to the Center for Work Life for Interpersonal disconnection, or lack of empathy, or following. It is ironic that some adults with undiagnosed ADD may be viewed as hard-working or top performing, due to what is called hyper-focusing. This is where the undiagnosed individual over the years, has built a coping mechanism for distraction by self-training to be so focused, that they become overly absorbed in one task, causing the individual to become oblivious to his or her surroundings, losing track of time and neglecting other duties or more importantly significant members of their lives, such as supervisors, spouses, co-workers, children, etc. Hyperfocus at work may be viewed as productivity but in the overall scheme of life, if left unmanaged, can lead to social isolation, being perceived as a workaholic and a self-centered, emotion-less individual. We will come back to this specific topic later.  


     So why are many ADHD diagnosis given to males than females? In a study published in the MBJ Journal, ADHD was found to be more common among males than females and less common among professionals than other workers. These findings of course are parallel to the disparity in how ADD is diagnosed as mentioned above. In short, because ADHD symptoms in adults, include low self-esteem, memory problems, lack of motivation, difficulties with emotion regulation which depending on personal background display differently in genders; they can manifest as agitation or a short temper, depression, or reckless and risk taking behaviors. In other words, adult ADD can cause a major havoc, silently in all realms and facets of a person’s life and in both genders.



     In our conflict resolution practice, we have noted many clients who are directly impacted by the pressures of ADD on their marriage or relationship with a partner. The complaint of the non-ADD partner, that at the dinner table, their partner is either “playing with their device” or is “somewhere in la la land”. A partner with ADD may be forgetful, disorganized and distracted, and failing to meet their everyday responsibilities or obligations. They may not be attentive to expressions of feelings, or not be able to communicate effectively because they missed signs of discomfort, or frustration from their surroundings. They may be having difficulties with coping with work stress and hence not able to separate their work and life. They may be the overreacting partner or, they may feel the other partner is overreacting because they don’t realize they have missed the cues the non-ADD partner has been giving them prior to the escalation. Worst yet, the ADD partner may seek risk-taking behaviors that could be considered a huge breach of trust in the relationship. Over time, the non-ADD partner may interpret the ADD partner’s failure to carry out commitments, or their poor communication, lack of empathy, or conversely emotional outbursts as evidence that the ADD partner doesn’t care or love them. Unfortunately, without treatment, all other attempts to resolve the issues may fail, because the ADD partner “keeps making the same mistakes”. Consequentially and eventually, the partner may burn out and the marriage may fail.


     In the a study which researched the ADHD and coping and stressor reactivity in University students, ADHD and ODD symptoms were significantly related to a number of stressors and different patterns of coping strategies. University students with symptoms of both ADHD and ODD display a different pattern of stressors and different patterns of coping than those with symptoms of ADHD only.

     In the article, The Impact of ADHD on Marriage, the authors describe several measures to help aid the diagnosis and interventions process.

Furthermore, in studying martial adjustment and perceptions of marital dysfunction, a study revealed that married adults with ADHD reported poorer overall marital adjustment on the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS; Spanier, 1989) and more family dysfunction on the Family Assessment Device (FAD; Eptein, Baldwin, & Bishop, 1983) than control adults.

Moreover, in yet another study, adults with ADHD displayed greater self-reported psychological maladjustment, more driving risks (speeding violations), and more frequent changes in employment. Significantly more ADHD adults had experienced a suspension of their driver license, had performed poorly, quit, or been fired from their job, and had a history of poorer educational performance and more frequent school disciplinary actions against them than adults without ADHD. Multiple marriages were more likely in the ADHD group as well.

     According to the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, in studying The Nature of Executive Function (EF) Deficits in Daily Life Activities in Adults with ADHD and Their Relationship to Performance on EF Tests, It was found that the ADHD group had more severe EF ratings than did the Clinical group and Community control groups on all 5 scales using both self and other-reported versions. The EF ratings were more highly associated with measures of deviant behavior (antisocial acts, crime diversity, negative driving outcomes) than the EF tests, most of which were unrelated to such behavior.

     It is a very sad thought to imagine the potential of a human being is limited because of lack of information, or misinformation. There is a strong feeling of loss and despair while the individual is grappling with what seems like a strong hold on their ability to make strides. They are constantly remorseful, yet helpless when they are faced with tasks that seem so easy for others and their confidence ever so flighty. On the other hand, there is nothing more frustrating than a co-worker, parent, a teacher, a supervisor or a spouse feeling that they are at their rope’s end because they are at odds with what is to be done when there is the respect and/or love they feel for an individual, which otherwise is so full of promise.

     But it doesn’t have to be this way. Among many psychological disorders, ADD is among the ones highly researched and various forms of therapy are available. It is neither wise nor healthy for an individual whether a child or an adult to be just in therapy or just on medication for ADHD. It is instead, recommended that a structured pragmatic, psycho-educative approach combining medication and cognitive-behavioral approaches be utilized. The aim will be the development of specific self-management skills, within a cognitive behavioral framework. Career, team, family, marital and group therapies are also discussed. Life is the hope of living one’s dream each and everyday, but it doesn’t mean it has to be lived in La La Land.  Furthermore, the EEOC laws governing disabilities, aka ADA, employers are now bounded by law to provide reasonable accommadations to employees that make them aware of their ADD.  It is a big controversy to tell or not to tell.  But in an era where mobility, ambition, and individualism are the norm, one has to weight the cost and benefits of privacy vs. trust, growth vs. tolerance, etc. It is our hope that the  laws of our country become even more empowering for workers in the near future, so that individual talents can truly and completely color with rainbows the immense possibilities.   


With the New Year, comes the promise of new hope and new beginnings.  However, it could also mean repeating old habits and avoiding the same old patterns unforturnately.  How about a dose of spring cleaning before March comes around?  How about openning that old closet, and taking out the baggage that is taking unneccessary space there?  By baggage of course we mean issues not the Samsonite kind.  One of the reasons we all love spring is because nature is rejuvenated and new buds are flourishing everywhere.  Why not apply that to our lives?  Groom the old, and invite freshness and hope in to our lives.  You know that topic, relationship, or issue you have been harboring?  How about you nip it, do something about it and start anew?  don’t be part of the 95% statistic that has a fear of conflict.  

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. We’ve all been witness to or been a participant in a situation where two or more people have had clashes in their ideals, and we’ve also seen, how without the proper intervention, how quickly it can turn into intense personal animosity.

Conflict is one of the most misunderstood topics. The reason for that is because many people incorrectly assume that conflict always ends negatively. Whether among colleagues, friends, or couples, unless one has absolutely no opinions about anything, nor any ideas to contribute, nor desires or preferences, or a personality for that matter, at some point in time, they will be faced with a situation where they will be in a disagreement with someone else. Yes, that’s correct, conflict is exactly that; disagreement(s).

Unfortunately, the fear of conflict leads many individuals to choose the path of least resistance and avoid facing the underlying issues leading to conflict. However, this is not really a solution.  It is simply a derailment or delaying the inevitable.  Unless, the individual has absolutely absolved the issue at hand on their own, the avoidance ultimately could mean two things: a. that they are tolerating it without understanding it, which will eventually lead to resentment, or b. that they falsely believe they have “tried” to resolve it and hence give up on the idea because they feel defeated.  Sound familiar?  well, that’s because it happens everyday in marriages, family relationships and offices.  We know, because it always eventually finds its way to our offices, and we eventually sit at the same table with it.  And trust us when we say, status, or position or academic background don’t make it any better.  In fact, research shows the higher one goes up the ladder of an organization, the lower the leader’s practiced EI skills could become.  

The truth is that conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Oh, and another thing: different personalities don’t have to mean unresolved conflicts. When resolved effectively conflict can in fact,lead to more cohesion, and trust in the relationship. In a sense, there is a feeling of being understood which can only result from a place of self-awareness and problem-solving attitude. There is a sense of confidence and self-efficacy because the dialogue involved in correct conflict resolution provides insight into the fact that one is able to achieve one’s goals without undermining others.

In interpersonal relationships of all kind, there is an increased sense of mutual respect, and a renewed faith in the relationship when people work things out. Research has shown in fact that a woman’s perceptions of intimacy in a couples’ relationship after a conflict has been effectively solved.

On the other hand, we have also seen some individuals who are too ready and eager to get in to conflicting situations. If you have ever seen or been one of these people, it is important to know that picking battles is very important. The reason for this is that a large part of effective conflict resolution comes from aligning goals. An individual with strong interpersonal skills or more specifically one with a strong background or training in Emotional Intelligence, has a good temperature read for what is a situation that needs attention and conflict resolutions strategies and one that needs more of a come in to terms strategy. Good conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals and expectations closely, helping them assess what is, really important to them. This also means, the sense of surrendering parts that are driven by ego or selfishness.   If the perception that others have of you is that you like to “pick fights” like the Grouchy Ladybug (we use this book in our training because it does a great job of demonstrating the concept, making it very succinct to relate to), then unfortunately, it will be interpreted that your goal is not conflict resolution but perhaps conflict in an of itself. In this circumstance, you are in a sense inviting ego, selfishness or self-preservation to step in and block any openness to negotiation.

Yes, conflict can be damaging. If not handled effectively, it can quickly turn into personal attacks, break down of trust, and disengagement from work or the relationship.  One major culprit is low emotional intelligence (EQ).

The key is to nip it at the bud. The downward spiral can be stopped if the correct interventions and communications are utilized and key processes are put in place.

Here are some specific steps that we have incorporated into our conflict resolution programs:


At the inception of conflict, people can quickly become entrenched in their positions. Soon, tempers and voices rise and defensive or aggressive behavior gives rise to uncooperative body language. Therefore, the first step is to separate the people and the emotional components from the problem and instead focusing on just the problem itself. The priority is to develop an understanding of the other’s position, and together reach a consensus.

The prerequisite to this of course always is to listen actively and empathetically, have a good understanding of your body language, and understand how to employ good emotion regulation including anger management techniques. Then, in particular, here are the steps:

  1. Decide whether the outcome or the relationship is the priority.
  2. If you decide that the relationship is the priority, ensure that you treat the other person with respect at all times and do your best to discuss matters constructively rather than in a way that leads the other person to react.
  3. Actually try to understand and listen to the other point of view.
  4. After understanding the point of view carefully, you should be able to understand, what the other person fears is at stake for them.
  5. Many times, just by getting to this step, you may realize that there was either a misunderstanding from the other person’s side, or that by giving them assurance, you can both be happy.  
  6. If not, then lay out additional facts, and review what both of you believe they are.
  7. Now provide solutions. And use the process of elimination to . Explore each of the options together and have an exchange as to why one option is better than another.
  8. Come to agreement. If you have followed all the steps and come this far, the last thing you want to do is assert your solutions is the better one. If you believe it is, you should be able to sell your position. And yes, in case you were wondering there is selling in negotiation.

Nine out of ten times, you can seriously prevent bad conflict from exploding in your face by using the above steps. Otherwise, chances are you may be faced with an opinion conflict, which usually means agreeing to disagree.

Real conflict resolution is not based on rank, or social standing, or other forces at work, but real dialogue. Both parties have to be willing to put the effort and the time, and be ready to surrender their position if proven wrong. But in matters of opinion, rather than fact, we always say, you are entitled to your opinion and leave it at that.


We are not the jack of all trades. But we are the conflict resolution experts. So when and wherever, feel free to reach out to us directly at (407)340-1228 or by

images-8The unreliable economy and the changes in the job market have certainly impacted the hiring the process negatively. There are now more applicants applying for the same position and applicants are expanding their search to larger geographical distances. Needless to say, the hiring organizations are becoming more selective because they know there many more applicants available to them. The smart applicant has to not only spend the proper time to brush up their resume and cover letter, revamp their social media reach, and prepare for the interview, but they have to prepare for the 2nd, third and possibly fourth interview.

The first interview, is now mostly done by phone as a screening process. In order to save the recruiter time and effort. The good news is, if you make it past the first interview, it will probably mean you will be interviewing with the hiring manager who has better insight about the role for which you’re being considered. We are taught oftentimes that impression making is all about listening, but as someone that has been involved in the HR arena for over 15 years, I always advocate for two way interviewing. Just because the market is not as upward as we want it to be, we don’t have to settle. An individual who is asking the right questions during the interview can make a well-informed choice if and when they receive the job offer and if they don’t receive the offer, at least they know parts of the job that didn’t fit well within their schema of the right job. Job-hunting is an emotionally challenging task and we can’t possibly receive all yes’s. To stay feeling emotionally positive, and cognitively ready and up for the challenge it’s best to be in the pilot seat than the passenger. If you ask more questions now, rather than later, then the hiring manager will not wonder where your heart and intentions are and whether you were even paying attention.

Finding the ins and outs of the company and the job, doesn’t have to come after six months into the job. There are a lot of questions that can quickly get at the heart of the “True Side” of the job rather than what is portrayed as the “Perfect Side” .

Leader vs. Follower Role

Emotionally intelligent applicants know who they are; their personality, their work style and communication style. Before even applying to the position, the applicant would need to know that the position they are applying to is within the ream of their knowledge skills and abilities. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee ability, neither does education and training. Our genetic make-up generally defines our personality and knowing that make-up is very insightful in all aspects of life in dealing with others, but especially in career planning. If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, it is crucial to know you that, that interests you. Plenty of individuals are in follower positions and have less of a headache and more flexibility and their income is not necessarily capped either. On the other hand, a position could be posed as a leadership position, but once on-board, there is not a lot of latitude. If you enjoy and are good at understanding and withstanding subordinates and delegate work to them, you would want to ask that. Asking the right question regarding this in the 2nd interview will lead the hiring manager to explain where you stand in the company’s hierarchy as well as specifc decision-making capabilities of the role.


Norms, Expectations and Performance

The culture of an organization speaks volumes to how the everyday gets done. Walking in to an interview, the applicant needs to have already done their homework as to what type of culture the organization has. The 2nd interview will allow the applicant to ask questions pertaining to communication guidelines, work product reviews, valued actions, and rewarded behaviors. There are two sides to a job, the social aspects and hard skills. I always advocate that if the player doesn’t learn the rules governing the game early on, they are just throwing darts in the dark, hoping it will hit the board. The game is half branding, and reputation building, and half performance as generally defined by fulfilling the job description. All companies want their employees to meet their performance expectations. Its important to ask the hiring manager to explain to you through scenarios, “right” and “wrong” behaviors. Something as simple as resources (staff, copier, paper and ink) can cause conflict. Can you imagine miscommunications? Discussing scenarios and finding out how they are perceived or timelines are played, will not only speak to performance appraisals but also to the underlying rules that govern everyday actions before and after the reviews.

Career Path

I am always amazed to find out how many individuals fall in to the trap of taking a job that pays higher over a job that pays a little less but has a clearly defined path for growth. During the 2nd job interview, it is wise for the applicant to ask about the training and advancement process. Finding out what your role is and what the company’s role is, is very important. The employee contract is very employee driven now and if an applicant wants to succeed, he or she must clearly know what the unspoken rules of that contract are. A position may be on a basic tier level, meaning within a number of years or experiences the next position would be within access to the applicant. On the other hand, the position could be on a partnership track, meaning, a certain group would need to provide a positive evaluation for the individual to go up the ladder. So on and so forth. Asking that the hiring manager to simply provide examples of career advanacement within the company would be a great way to learn the process.

Network Building Opportunities

Social media has amazingly taken over the work culture. Employers not only use social media to make hiring decisions now, but also look at your network to see contacts that you will potentially bring with you. Furthermore, who you’ll be working with is just as important as what you will be working on. It is very typical for managers to invite you to take a tour of the office and meet some of the people with whom you’ll be working. Although this may be a good opener, it will not shed any light on the dynamics you may be walking into. Finding out names and doing a background search on the individuals would be a lot more useful. Again social media is great for that. You can also ask how the organization incorporates team work, how teams are formed, who and what determines which teams get what projects and how is the team evaluated. Knowing how messages are transmitted in an organization speaks volumes to how you will spend your day. The people you work with, ultimately become your second family. The difference is you have a chance at picking your second family.


All and all, finding the right position means whether there is a good fit within you and the organization. This goes far beyond pay, titles and perks. It means value alignment, and introspective knowledge about your individual goals, strengths and challenges as well as your cause. Your work is one of the various areas of your life and if the fit is right it will compliment the other aspects of your life. If it’s the wrong fit, it will take away from the other areas.

anigif_enhanced-15690-1394578851-1Who doesn’t like movies like Grease, Terms of Endearement, Tootsie, Clueless, or Men in Black? In fact these movies were the highest grossing movies in their category and are still the most highly rated clips in the media. However, the truth is that all these movies have one fact in common. They all make sexual harassment a joke.

Sexual harassment is, above all, a manifestation of power relations.  Treating sexual harassment is not a matter of one training course, but rather a fundamental shaking up of an individuals perceptions and attitudes about the target of their harassment.  For this reason,  sexual harassment training needs to be embodied within an overall communications training process supported by a ground-up process of inquiry, where the individual perpetrator can realize why they victimize. Without that piece of knowledge, the symptom rather than the actual disease is what gets treated and in fact even it doesn’t.  Because the individual perceives training as a punishment rather than an opportunity for growth.

The Legal Dictionary defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. According to the Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Regardless of the form of sexual harassment, it is illegal to purposefully harass someone at work in order to gain any type of sexual favor. However, many cases remain unreported because of fear of embarrassment or termination.k9563790

There are two types of sexual harassment, Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment. Quid Pro Quo Harassment occurs when a manager or supervisor withholds or awards job benefits on the basis of sexual favors. This includes work assignments, hiring, termination, promotions or demotions, positive or negative reviews, or any other job related benefit. On the other hand, if any rewards being withheld because the victim refuses to engage in the sexual favor, the company is would be considered guilty of sexual harassment. Both of these practices although very common in the work place, involve the risk of losing a job and with unemployment rate at a steady 7.4 percent, that isn’t something that most people consider a positive outlook.  Therefore, so many people keep quiet and remain victimized at their place of work.


So what is the root cause of sexual harassment, and why is it that it’s so common? From a social psychology perspective, the disconnect is in how people view hostility towards men and women. Research has indicated that stereotypes about socially appropriate gender roles for women and men are a driving factor, while the causes of sexual violence include socioeconomics, anger, power, sadism, sexual pleasure, psychopathology, ethical standards, laws, attitudes toward the victims and evolutionary pressures.

Traditional conceptualizations of sexism have focused almost entirely on overt hostility toward women. While historians, anthropologists, feminist scholars, and psychologists have previously suggested that sexism involves positive and negative evaluations of women.

Ambivalent sexism is a theoretical framework which posits that sexism has two sub-components: “hostile sexism” and “benevolent sexism”. Hostile sexism reflects overtly negative evaluations and stereotypes about a gender (e.g., the ideas that women are incompetent and inferior to men). Benevolent sexism represents evaluations of gender that may appear subjectively positive (subjective to the person who is evaluating), but are actually damaging to people and gender equity more broadly (e.g., the ideas that women need to be protected by men).

Besides Television programming, another cause and arena leading to the rise of sexual harassment is on-line and gaming. There is no shortage of examples of harassment online, a Pew Survey published this week is the first of its kind to drill down into the level and types of online harassment. The report, which polled almost 3,000 Internet users, brings to light that women for the most part have it worse off than men, while most people don’t realize it.  Although men are more likely to report they experience harassment on the Internet (44 percent of men compared to 37 percent of women), as a general rule, more women have been targeted on social media sites (73 percent women vs. 27% men). Women also tend to face the most severe types of harassment, like stalking and sexual harassment, while men generally face milder issues like name-calling and public embarrassment. Young women are the most likely to experience this severe targeting, with a quarter of women between the ages of 18 and 24 reporting having been stalked or sexually harassed online. Furthermore, the representation and coverage of the matter in the newspapers is certainly very biased. In He Said, She Said, Let’s Hear What the Data Say: Sexual Harassment in the Media, Courts, EEOC, and Social Science, Joni Hersch & Beverly Moran explore the coverage of sexual harassment in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and whether it is consistent with sexual harassment as it is reported in three other sources: a 1994 United States Merit Systems Protection Board (USMSPB) survey, charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from 2006-2010, and complaints filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPa) from 2010-2011. The review of the media coverage suggests that sexual harassment is covered in an intensely local and episodic manner, with little recognition that sexual harassment is a national phenomenon that could be connected to “a larger, social, economic or political trend.” (P. 778.) In comparing the media coverage and the data sets, the authors found that while the reporting of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal generally does not mislead regarding the demographics of sexual harassment claimants, particular stories may downplay the seriousness of the factual allegations made in complaints. The article suggests that differences between the media portrayal of sexual harassment and what can be found in the data may result from the media’s focus on litigation. The authors note that a focus on pre-litigation harassment claims may provide a fuller picture of sexual harassment. The authors end the article observing that the focus on litigation leads to reporting that tends to miss “a sense of what happens before litigation and what sexual harassment means to victims in terms of their economic, professional, and emotional lives.” (P. 781.)

One’s view of sexual harassment can be highly variable depending on their position as it relates. The victim, vs. the perpetrator, vs. the organization vs. the human resources don’t necessarily experience the matter the same nor do they have the same outcomes in mind although they should. Regardless as a work life advocate, we suggest a No Tolerance policy with specificity and clarity in describing anti-harassment policies and procedures. The following information from the EEOC will serve your organization well:

Office Politics is the inevitable. If you feel uneasy with resolving conflict or looking at it in the eye, you certainly have a hurdle to jump over. Whether you believe in reincarnation, god, or simply the psychology of fear and life, they all basically say the same thing: What you fear most, will ultimately be a repeated theme in your life.

One of the reasons maneuvering politics seems a daunting task makes so many of us uneasy is that complex situations are difficult to read and impossible to control. There are personalities and then there are motivations, which co-habit within each of us and put with that limited resources, decisions, deadlines and power struggles, and anything can happen. But what if you were to take some of the guess-work out, but using a planning-based approach to managing politics? We’ve taught the same method to many male and female executives over the years.  Whenever there is anxiety associated with a situation, that anxiety is usually a result of lack of control. As human beings, for better or worst, we are at ease when we have a certain degree of control. Control and predictability go hand in hand, and if one was to create predictability into the most crucial of organizational interactions, the issue of control, would inadvertently be minimized.

Here is a method you can call on for yourself, the next time you are confronted with office politics and really would like to come out of on top rather than run away from. It’s a form of scenario planning if you will, and uses the power of psychology and emotional intelligence to  map out strategies in an algorithm format:

To keep up with the players and be in a position to advocate for your specific agenda, maps out potential scenarios according to three separate quadrants—personalities, motivations, and variables.

Lets say you attend an annual planning meeting that is fraught with politics. Here’s how you can do your homework. Map out the personalities involved to help you plan and strategize how each individual might react to your agenda. Then add in each individual’s motivations to analyze and compare what you believe each person would expect to accomplish. Finally, take an inventory of other relevant variables that you can anticipate. These are factors that might lead individuals to go one way or another as the meeting plays out. This process can help you create some real options, feel prepared, and remain calm and in control in most political situations rather than feeling ambushed, like a sheep among wolves.

Oh and the next time you notice politics at play, rather than maneuvering it, which implies a degree of passivity, think empowerment, and how you can play the game to come on top.

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