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RVC Chat - January 2012
by Andrew Heffernan

As the new year is here, many of us choose to turn over a new leaf. One of my weaknesses in my workplace has been constructive confrontation. My Dad tended to be harsh in his criticism of his offspring, and so I default to being extra nice and accommodating. I have been trying to improve in this area. For example, every day at work, I review safety bulletins. Some involve deaths of workers in other countries where safety training is not as prominent. One day, one of my co-workers laughed and made fun of a person who had lost his life while working in China. Instead of laughing along with the conversation, I made the difficult choice to stop the discussion and explain that this man had died while providing for his family, and that the family no longer had a husband or father. It was no joking matter. This is an area I will continue to improve in 2012, as I did during my safety discussion. I'd like to share with you some words of Dr. Allan Weiss that helped me to make this decision:

I’ve met too many people who insist that I create magic which would defy Houdini and the Sorcerer King: They want me to square a circle.

They tell me that they are not being paid enough, but don’t want to upset the apple cart by asking for more pay. Or they ask how the can get a key client to change his behavior without having to confront the individual or describe the behavior. Or they want to know how to find enjoyment spending time with someone whom they hate.

You can’t square a circle, not with a compass, protractor, formula, or alchemy. You can’t flap your arms and fly. You can’t expect someone to change their behavior without informing them of it, and you can’t expect them to love you for telling them that their behavior is a problem for others.

Get over it.

People do run around in circles trying to square circles, but that doesn’t help. The more you enable someone in doing something you detest, the more they will do it and the more you will detest it. “Overlooking” things or cutting people slack is your business, but you then forfeit the right to complain that they continue to do it.

Either tell people what you need to in order to change their behavior, or get over it and simply accept the inevitable. But to continue to complain and be agitated about something you refuse to confront, contradict, or clarify is just raising futility to an art form.

“I don’t get any respect,” I was told.

“Stop whining about it, and tell people how they have to change their behavior with you,” I suggested.

“Oh, I don’t want to be unpopular and seen as a complainer,” she whined. (Balancing Act Newsletter, November 2011)

Every organization can be improved. From our places of work, our own Mensa groups, and even our families. If I can help make your Mensa experience a better one, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Andrew Heffernan

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