How to Recover from Abuse Part 1

This is the first of a two part series on how to recover from abuse.  I decided to publish this early in the new year for three reasons…

  1. I know that dealing with issues related to abuse (current or past) can be difficult.
  2. This is a subject that is difficult for people to discuss.
  3. If abuse issues are relevant to you, perhaps you will take something that I say in this article, make it a “New Year’s Resolution” and implement the suggestion in your life.

Bur before I get into it, a serious note of encouragement….

If you are dealing with issues related to your past history of “abuse” and these issues are having a negative (however you define this) impact on your life, please seek professional help.  Therapy works.  When you need help with your car, you seek out a competent mechanic.  When you need help getting your life together, seek out a competent mental health professional.

During my 30 year career as a Psychologist with the California Youth Authority, I treated young women whose history included multiple types of abuse including physical, emotional and sexual.  While some of my clients may not have been “abused” over time, many had been raped.

Let me explain that when I talk of abuse, I am referring to inappropriate interactions with parents, siblings and caretakers which occurred repeatedly and over time.  While the offense of rape may only have occurred on a single occasion, the distinction I make between abuse and rape in no way implies that one type of mistreatment is worse than or more difficult to deal with than the other as this is not the case.  Rather, I am attempting to include all victims of these abusive victimizing interactions as the way to recover from theses traumatic events is basically the same whether the abusive was perpetrated over time or occurred as a single event.

One caveat before I describe for you how you can recover from “abuse”.

While it is relatively “easy” to describe the recovery process, it is by no means easy for a victim to go through this process on her (or his) way to recovery.  The recovery process is often painful time-consuming and difficult (but not impossible) to do alone.

How past abuse keeps impacting you in the present.

Maybe, you’ve had the experience of sharing your history with someone who says to you (or you have said to yourself) something along the lines of “That (event) happened long ago.  Let it go and move on.”

Okay, maybe they were a little more caring than that.  But the idea that something that took place so long ago continues to impact you is often difficult to comprehend.

The reason that your past continues to bug you (and may even feel as if it happened yesterday) has to do with the relationship between your past and your present.

The best way to understand this was offered by Albert Ellis in his description of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

I explained REBT to my clients this way using the “formula”  E-T=>F.  In this formula, E stands for the event(s) you experienced, T stands for your Thoughts about the event(s) and F stands for the feelings which follow from those thoughts. This is a simplification of REBT but it works to understand Dr. Ellis’s approach.

By the way, just about everything you ever wanted to know about feelings can be learned by visiting my blog (TheEmotionsDoctor.com).

Dr. Ellis was one of the first psychologists to emphasize the connection between your thoughts and your feelings.  It is your feelings in the here and now about the event which keep that event current in your life.  When someone says that the event was in the past, they are correct about the actual physical event (or events). And, it is factually the case that the past can’t physically impact the present.  However, the actual facts are not important here as we are talking about your psychological reality wherein your feelings about the past are in the present and they can (and do) significantly impact you in the here and now.

The important insight offered by REBT (which, by the way is one type of cognitive therapy) is that your feelings are elicited by your thoughts. The good news here is that you can change your thoughts.

And, when you change your thoughts, you change your feelings.  Changing your feelings allows you to move beyond your past and recover from your abuse.

Your Problematic Thoughts

There are three “elements” which define your abuse.

  1. The abusive event (or events): What you actually experienced and your perception of what took place.
  2. Your perpetrator: That person or people who victimized you.
  3. You: How you view yourself through the lens of your abuse, what you think about your “involvement” in your abuse, and your view of yourself post-event.

Now, I need to point out that while these three elements are, indeed, separate, psychologically, they may be experienced as interconnected in the same way that a red, a blue and a white strand of rope, while initially separate, become intertwined when we braid them together.  Ultimately, you can learn to separate these elements, as I will discuss them below, so you can change your thoughts about each and move on.

The event(s)

What happened to you is burned into your brain. Your “recollection” of these events may be very vivid (like it happened yesterday), detailed, or fuzzy.  What you remember may be accurate (in the details) or may not match a video (if one existed).

None of the above matters!

The reason for this is that your thoughts (memories) are real to you and combine to create the feelings which are problematic and which negatively impact your life.

I am assuming that some sort of victimizing event or events occurred and, as we are dealing with the “court” of your psychology and not a Court of Law, the “facts” are not critical.

The way to move beyond your past can be summarized in the acronym IWBNI which stands for (I) It   (W) Would (B) Be (N) Nice (I) If.

Here is a link to an article I wrote on IWBNI_s IWBNI’.

Again, let me emphasize that the process I am laying out is easy to describe but challenging to complete.

To put it another way….IT MAY BE DIFFICULT, BUT IT IS DOABLE!

 

The darker side of the Holidays: A four part series of posts.

November marks the beginning of the Holiday Season starting with Thanksgiving and moving through Christmas and New Years.

The holidays are times when families get together and celebrate.

Hopefully, the Holidays and the celebrations are happy times for you. 

Sometimes, however, there is a darker side to the Holidays.

In some families, Holiday gatherings might involve disagreements over politics or other topics.

And, when people are stressed while shopping, driving, or standing in line, emotions can get out of hand and result in rage.

While I hope that none of these posts apply to you, my intent is to raise your awareness in the next four  posts and provide you with some useful information to help you weather any challenges which may arise.

Part 1: You Cannot NOT Communicate

Part 2: Emotions as Tools- Seven Top Conflict Resolution Tips Using Emotions as Tools.

Part 3: The Benefits of “Gratitude”. Happy Thanksgiving.

Part 4: Holiday rage: Where does it come from and what you can do about it.

I hope theses posts are useful.

You Cannot NOT Communicate

Today’s post is a reprint from September 2016 and addresses the idea that you are always communicating eventhough you may not be saying anything. 

In other words..”You cannot not communicate.” 

Your non-verbal language is always “on” and sending messages to others.  In the same way, those people with whom you interact are always communicating to you. 

And, if you, or they, don’t like these non-verbal messages, conflict can result.

The title of this post may look like I added an extra word.

I assure you, (no pun intended) that I did not..

The point I am making, and that most people miss when they interact with others, is that we are always communicating something whether we intend to or not.

Most people believe that communication is a fairly simple process. This is an unfortunate myth.

The process of communication, while I admittedly am simplifying the process, can be illustrated with two examples.

Example #1: Think back to the days of the telegraph.  If you wanted to send a message, you had to write out the message, the telegraph operator had to convert it to Morse Code, the wires had to be in place between you and the place to which you were sending the message, the receiving  operator had to get the signal, decode the message, and write it down so that your target person could receive your message.

The first example illustrates the verbal communication process.  Most of us can easily encode an idea into words, deliver the words, and expect the receiver to accurately decode the message and understand what we mean and intended to say.  And, in most cases, when it is factual information we are communicating, this process works.

There are some underlying assumptions here.

  • Both of the participants speak the same language and can understand the words being used.  Words can be thought of as one “filter” through which ideas are processed. (One way to understand the idea of a filter is to think about what happens when you take a black and white picture with your camera or smart phone. The filter takes out the color.) Words can have a multitude of meanings and, therefore, can be thought of as a filter in that you choose the words you eventually use based on what you want to convey.
  • The message is clear, does not involve emotional issues in either party, and is not easily misinterpreted. (Emotions are another “filter” through which ideas are processed.)
  • Both participants are paying attention to each other, are not distracted by “noise” in the environment (think about having a conversation in a loud lounge), and are “actively” listening with the goal of receiving and understanding the message.  They are not  “passively” listening while engaged in some other activity such as texting or planning tomorrow’s schedule.

If we are dealing with issues involving emotions (or complex issues), the process becomes more complicated.

Example #2: Think about the last time you sent a text or an email thinking that you were being very clear only to have the person to whom you sent this electronic message get upset because they misinterpreted the message they received.

The second example illustrates a situation in which the message has several different “layers” but the only layer of information that is “available” is what is “written” down.

There are several possible complications here:

  • The message may contain implied emotional overtones. For example, you are upset with the person and have not directly expressed your feeling.
  • You may have directly expressed your feelings but the meaning of the emotional words you have used were misinterpreted when “decoded” by the recipient of the text.
  • You tried to use humor in your text or an emoji.
  • And so forth.

By the way, the above process is why we are frequently advised, and warn our kids, to be very careful about what they send in an email or a text.

There is a quote from the Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) literature that says: “The meaning of a communication (to the receiver) is the response that you (the sender) get regardless of what you intended to say.”

The receiver’s (upset) response clearly suggests that he (or she) viewed the message as “threatening”. This is the “real” meaning of the message to him.

If the communication process is to be successful, you will need to determine where the “disconnect” is. Perhaps, the misunderstanding occurred because the message contained implied emotional overtones that were included in the message (either intentionally or unintentionally) or the receiver read emotional overtones into the message that were not there.

When you are involved in a face to face conversation, there are additional complications that can take place because of the nature of non-verbal signals.

  • Non-verbal signals comprise a significant (perhaps, major) portion of the communication process and involve your tone of voice, the expression on your face, the way you are standing and so forth.
  • An important part of the emotional process is the constant scanning of our surroundings that our senses engage in, our Amygdala monitors, and our bodies unconsciously react to if there is a threat.
  • Our primitive brain is programmed to “read” non-verbal signals because they are often a more accurate (though not always so) indicator of possible threat. This is because humans are not very good at modifying their non-verbal signals (unless they are trained to do so).

Consequently, you are always communicating non-verbally and your listener is always tuned into your non-verbals.  Hence, the title of this blog: You cannot NOT communicate.

An example of this potential conflict is  the saying “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

Communication problems can arise for at least two reasons:

  1. The meaning of non-verbal signals is not always clear and can easily be misunderstood.
  2. The non-verbal signals you are communicating with your tone of voice or body language are not consistent with the verbal message.

You master your emotions (and the emotions of others) when you are aware of and utilize the nature of non-verbal (and verbal) signals.

  • In your own communications, take extra care to insure that the message you are conveying non-verbally is consistent with the words you are using.
  • Be aware of the non-verbal signals your receiver sends to you, the emotions indicated by those signals, and the message those emotions tell you about how he or she has interpreted your communication. Using this information, you can seek clarification if what you see in their response is different from what you expected and you can clear up any misunderstanding.

Part 2 will publish in 2 weeks.

Relationship Primer: Tips 3 and 4 for Getting the Most out of a Relationship

In the last post, I discussed relationship tips #1 and #2.

Tip #1: Master your emotions.

Tip #2:Master their emotions.                ______________________________________

In this post, I will start with Tip #3.

Tip #3: Remember and apply the Basic Relationship Rule

Remember and apply the Basic Relationship Rule

The Basic Relationship Rule is a lens through which we can take a closer look at, and begin to understand, what is going on in our relationships.

This basic rule, or formula, applies to all relationships.

Mastering the Basic Relationship Rule can help you both gain insight into and understand what motivates others and how you can positively impact the actions of other participants in the relationship.

What is the Basic Relationship Rule?

                Everyone always does the best they can given their model of the world and their skill sets.

  • Everyone: Every participant in the relationship including you and the other person.
  • Always: The assumption is that, if the action is personally meaningful, each person will default to an action that will be maximally productive in the situation.
  • Best: The best they can do in the moment. Not the best possible.
  • Model: Their personal perception of the current event.
  • Skill sets: The behaviors they can use to deal with the situation.

The basic relationship rule sets a standard for how you view the actions of another individual within the context of your relationship with that person. 

The basic relationship rule is intended to help you avoid judging the actions of another participant in the relationship so that you can validate and understand the behavior you are observing. It does not require that you condone or accept the other person’s behavior as appropriate.

  • judging: labeling the behavior in such a way that eliminates further understanding and can exacerbate any problems which might exist in the relationship. Judging the behavior of another person in a relationship can effectively end any further constructive interactions. 
  • validate: accept as their best, at the moment, NOT the best possible.
  • understand: gain some insight into the behavior you are observing.
  • condone, accept and appropriate: imply a set of standards that can, if necessary, be applied later to the behavior

Validating  helps you maintain the relationship, if this is your choice, while you devise a plan to intervene and facilitate any changes which might improve the relationship.

Validating also allows you to continue to accept the other person while you might not accept their behavior.

Understanding can provide some direction in choosing an intervention.

How do you apply the Basic Relationship Rule?

Something is perceived to be “wrong” in a relationship when the person with whom we are interacting either does something that doesn’t seem right or fails to do something we think they “should” be doing.

In other words, you believe that a rule or an expectation has been violated.

It is important to point out that when a relationship isn’t working, the issue could involve the behavior of one or both participants.  Therefore, as you continue reading, please keep in mind that the basic relationship rule might have to be applied to either your behavior, the actions of another person, or both.

Violating an explicit rule.

If the rule that you believe is being violated is explicit, you may have an “absolute” (published in some form such as a policy or agreement) standard to which you can refer.

But not always.

There can be a difference of opinion regarding how the rule is applied. As an example, one person may see an action that is taken such as asking a colleague “out for a drink” as complying with policy while the colleague may see it as a boundary violation.

Violating an implicit rule.

If the rule is implicit, the issue is more complex as the perceived violation could be due to ignorance (vs ignoring) the rule. 

Whatever is happening, we conclude that something is wrong and we want to correct it.  

The Basic Relationship Rule gives you some guidelines to help you understand what is going on in the relationship and what changes you might begin to explore making.

Let’s unpack the Basic Relationship Rule.

best–what they believe will enable them to effectively handle the situation they are facing.  It isn’t the best possible but the best they can do in the moment. Their choice of what to do involves the context, their model of the world and their skill sets. 

The assumption here is that each participant wants a particular result from the relationship and is, therefore, motivated to use the most effective (or best) approach they have to accomplish the desired result. 

If there was a better approach, about which they were aware, they would use it.

model of the world — encompasses their understanding of the rules that apply to the relationship including what is “okay”, what will “work”, what they can “get away with”, and/or the way things “should be”.

skill sets –this is the behavior that the individual brings to the situation and includes how they handle emotions and their level of self-control (intrapersonal skills), how they interact with others (interpersonal skills), any training one has had such as assertion training, and what has(or has not) been productive in the past.

Applying the basic relationship rule:

Model of the world:

Looking into how others perceive their relationship with you gives you an opportunity to look at how they perceive you and the situation.  Perhaps, their actions reflect a misunderstanding of something you have done or said, how they perceive themselves relative to you, or how they understand what is “appropriate” within the context of the current relationship.  If this is the case, helping them change their perceptions may alleviate the challenge to the relationship.

One example might be a co-worker who violates a “personal boundary”. This boundary might be a physical boundary, an ethical boundary, or a rule violation. The questions to ask yourself involving his model of the world include:

  • Is he being aggressive and ignoring the “rules”?
  • Has he misunderstood something you said or did?
  • Is he unfamiliar with the rules?
  • Is his model unjustified or is this a skill set issue where in he just does not know how to say what he wants?

Another example might be a police officer who is “rude”. The questions to ask yourself involving his model of the world include:

  • Have I done something which “pushed his buttons”?
  • How likely is it that his behavior is based on other experiences he has had today or in his past?
  • Regardless of the basis for his actions, what is my best course of action to take?

Skill sets:

Looking at a person’s behavior as the “best” they can do leaves you open to exploring whether the actions of another comes about because, if their model is accurate, they don’t know any other more appropriate way to handle the situation. Perhaps, they need to  acquire new skills. If this is the case, then educating them about their actions and the consequence of the choices they have made and suggesting alternatives may be all that is needed.

If you decide that the behavior you are seeing is, indeed, the best, they are capable of, then, perhaps, the relationship needs to “end”. An example might be a friend or family member who is addicted to drugs and who tends to be agitated and defensive in their interactions with you.  All your efforts to help them change have  been unsuccessful and the relationship is taking its toll on you. You might decide to continue “loving” them and to be “available” if they choose to change but to keep your distance from them.

Tip #4: Shoot for a win/win but settle for a compromise

In both this and the last post, I have attempted to offer suggestions regarding how you might intervene to improve a relationship that your emotions inform you is negatively impacted by the behavior of the other person in the relationship.If a win/win is too difficult to obtain, then work toward a compromise.

This final tip looks at your goal in deciding what actions to take to bring about the changes you might seek to facilitate.

Initially, I am suggesting that you seek a solution that is “win-win”.  This is an outcome in which you and the other person end up getting what you want out of the relationship.  If, for example, the other person is angry with you (or you with them), then the emotion suggests that one of you perceives the other as a threat.  A win-win solution would involve the resolving the perceived threat so that both of you believe that your needs in the relationship have been effectively satisfied.

While this is the optimum solution, it is often difficult to accomplish.  It is, however, often doable and should, therefore, be your initial goal.

When the needs of both participants are beyond reach, your option is then to seek, and settle for, a compromise.  Too often, it is a compromise that we seek and we miss the possibility of the more difficult to achieve “win-win”.

If a compromise is the best you can achieve, then that is what you go for.

There is, however, a caveat here.  If the behavior that is problematic in a relationship involves a core belief, then compromising might not be an option.

An example I used when I was working with incarcerated young women was this.  If a male attempted to touch them inappropriately and they indicated that a non-negotiable boundary had been violated, if the male came back and said “Okay, let’s compromise, let me touch you (there).”  The answer would still be “no” and compromise would not be a viable option.  The boundary should be defended.

Seeking a “win-win” where possible leaves open the possibility of “falling back” to a compromise.  If you initially seek a compromise, that is the best you will ever accomplish and you might miss an opportunity for a better outcome.

If you are registered with the blog, please leave a comment as I would very much like to know what you think about what I have written.

Relationship Primer: Tips 1 and 2 for Getting the Most out of a Relationship

In my earlier posts, I defined what a relationship is, listed three categories of relationships and addressed the four attributes of a relationship.

In the next two posts, I will address 4 tips which will help you apply what you have learned so far about relationships and give you some suggestions about how you might choose to intervene if you want to improve a relationship that is “working”  or change a relationship that is dysfunctional. 

The four tips are:

  1. Master Your Emotions
  2. Master Their Emotions
  3. Remember and apply the Basic Relationship Rule
  4. Shoot for a win/win but settle for a compromise

I will discuss tips 1 and 2 in this post and tips 3 and 4 in the next post.

Relationship tips 1 and 2:

Tip #1: Master Your Emotions

Because I have written several posts dealing with emotions and emotional mastery, this section will only cover mastering your emotions in the context of relationships.  As a reminder, you can access all of my previous posts by clicking the Index tab above.

There are two reasons why mastering your emotions is the first tip.  The first reason emphasizes the importance of relying on your emotions to alert you to your surroundings and the possibility that something isn’t right in your relationship.  Accurately  perceiving your interactions with others is critical to maintaining or improving the relationship that you have.

The second reason emphasizes the importance of lowering your arousal level so that you can clearly assess the nature of the possible problem and focus on an effective response. If your arousal level is too high, you are more likely to react and possibly escalate the situation than to respond and move forward.

The Anger Mastery cycle illustrates, using anger as an example, how the emotional mastery cycle works. The link, by the way, takes you to a downloadable copy of the Anger Mastery Cycle.

 We all constantly scan our surroundings for any possible threat.  When a threat is perceived, an emotion is elicited which alerts us to our initial perception of what is happening to us. Our emotions then evoke a behavioral reaction.

Your emotions, therefore, are your window on the world.  They are your “early warning system”.  Your emotions alert you to how you perceive what is going on around you and prepare you to deal with whatever you see that “isn’t right”. This alert is the function of the emotion.  The content of the alert is the message of the emotion.

Our emotions may communicate that:

  • we do not like what we see (upset, frustrated, displeased, disappointed),
  • we perceive a current threat (anger),
  • we see a possible future threat (anxiety), or
  • we are aware of a need to move away from the interaction (disgust or fear).

Or,

  • when a relationship is “working” and is relatively free of complicating issues, our emotions inform us that we want to stay in the relationship (happy, content, satisfied) and we tend to just “go with the flow”.  

This “communication” is the message of the emotion.

Emotional mastery includes: 

  • managing your emotional arousal level so that you don’t escalate an interaction and
  • validating the emotion to give it credibility
  • assessing the message of the emotion against the situation
  • using the message of the emotion to choose an effective response

Most of you have probably heard of emotional management (as in anger management.) Mastery exceeds managing an emotion and involves both understanding what the emotion tells you about how you are viewing the situation and using that information to assess your perception.  Finally, mastering an emotion involves choosing an effective response  (based on your assessment) which will lead to a better outcome (in whatever situation you find yourself).

In the context of a relationship, when you “feel” that something isn’t right, your first step is to take a deep breath.  This lowers your arousal so that you do not react to the perceived violation.

Too often, when we believe we have been “wronged”, we want to lash out, or react. This is not recommended because, while our initial perception may be correct, we might also have misunderstood. It is, therefore, preferable to respond to the situation rather than react.

When our emotions inform us that there is a “problem” with a relationship, we start looking for ways we can “work things out”, “make things better”, “come to an understanding”, and so forth.

Mastering our emotions involves learning to stay emotionally cool while still validating the emotion, assessing the situation to see if it does, indeed, match the emotion, and then using the energy that the emotion gives us to choose how we want to respond to the violation we “feel” has occurred. 

Tip #2: Master Their Emotions

Tip #1 advised you to master your own emotions so that you can lower your arousal level, validate the message of the emotion you are experiencing and respond rather than react to a perceived threat.  That you would master your own emotions makes sense because you can directly impact what you feel.

That you would attempt to master the emotions of another person is less intuitively satisfying and doesn’t seem to make any sense. 

Until it does!

Think about it for a moment.  Your goal in a relationship is to make the relationship work.  The threat you perceive is negatively impacting your interaction with another person and eliciting (not causing) your emotion.

This is also the case for the person or people you are interacting with.

While it is true that you can’t directly impact what another person feels, knowing how the emotional process works gives you an opportunity to indirectly impact their emotions by helping them alter how they perceive you and what is going on between you.

Here are the key steps to mastering another person’s emotions…

  • The emotion you are observing in the other person, and the message that emotion communicates to you, gives you insight into how that individual perceives you and their interaction with you.
  • Understanding this perception allows you to implement the emotional mastery cycle and validate their emotion. Remember that validation does not mean acceptance.  So, you can say something like, “I can see that you are (angry, annoyed, frustrated, etc.))
  • You can then assess the nature of the perceived threat by checking out the basis for the threat by asking for clarification regarding what you might have done which led to their perception of you as (a threat, an obstacle, uncaring, rude etc).
  • You can then, if appropriate, apologize for any misunderstanding.  Be aware that you are not admitting guilt here. You are only acknowledging that something you did might have been misunderstood.
  • You can, then, choose how you will interact with them and seek a resolution by clarifying what you did, asking for additional input from the other person and so forth.

Note that when you validate their emotions, apologize, and ask for clarification,  you are facilitating their changing how they perceive you which should help them lower their own arousal and be more open to anything you might have to say.  This is the key to mastering their emotions.  You are not doing anything to directly impact what the feel and the behavior that feeling evokes but you are using the message of the emotion to help them change their perceptions.

Once you have implemented tip #1 and  both lowered your own arousal level and understood your perception of what is going on in the relationship and you have implemented tip #2 to help the other person lower their arousal level so that they are more open to interacting with you, you can begin to gain some additional understanding into their actions by implementing tip #3.

The next post discusses tip #3 and tip #4.

 

 

 

Saying “I’m Sorry” in a business setting. My take!

My last two posts looked at what constitutes a relationship and what attributes are associated with a relationship.

In this post, I discuss an example which touches upon relationships (and other) issues in a business scenario. Additional elaboration on these issues will be reserved for later posts.

Have you ever done something at work you wished you hadn’t such as being late to a meeting?

Or, failed to do something you wish you had done such as completing a report that was due?

And, when you attempted to rectify the “undesirable” action by saying “I’m sorry (plus an explanation for the “perceived failure”), your boss, or the person to whom the apology was directed looked at you with disdain, displeasure, or disgust.

Even if this scenario hasn’t happened to you, you might still be able to identify with it.

So, what happened?

Well, let’s assume that your “explanation” was, indeed, an attempt to explain the underlying basis for the action that did occur (being late) or the action that did not take place (the absent report) rather than an attempt to simply justify or, in some way, excuse your actions.

In other words, your intent was not to deny, minimize, or avoid responsibility for your actions. Rather, it was an attempt to provide a context for what you did.

The reaction of your boss, however, suggested that he viewed your “I’m sorry” as an excuse and assumed that you were not taking responsibility for your actions.

So, is saying “I’m sorry.” in a business context appropriate?

Well, let’s explore this question from an emotional mastery (basically an emotional intelligence) perspective in the context of building (or maintaining) a relationship.

Basic Concepts:

  • emotional mastery:

The basis of emotional mastery is the idea that emotions are tools which, when mastered like any other tool such as a cell phone, allow you to interact more effectively with your environment and make better inter- and intra-personal decisions.

  • mastering your own emotions:

You master your emotions when you accept your initial emotional reaction as informative, understand the meaning of each emotion (the message), assess your surroundings to see if your initial perception was accurate, and use the assessment to choose how you want to respond to what is going on.

  • relationship:

A relationship is any interaction with another person that has value, is personally meaningful, or personally significant, and which, if not handled appropriately can result in unwanted consequences.

  • mastering the emotions of another person:

You master the emotions of someone else by observing their actions and attempting to understand the emotion they are experiencing. Then, by using this knowledge to address any problematic issues they might have with you, you attempt to facilitate a mutually beneficial change in their behavior by changing their perceptions of their interactions with you.

  • Retrospective mastery:

Managing the emotions of another retrospectively involves assessing the emotion that is displayed and working backward to understand and change the emotion.

  • Prospective mastery:

Determining how you want to be perceived and acting accordingly.

  • Manipulation vs Mastery:

When you opt to facilitate change in another person solely for your own benefit, you are manipulating the other person.  If you are detected, your relationship with that person will deteriorate.

When you opt to master the emotions of another so as to improve the relationship with that person in such a way that the change is mutually beneficial, you are mastering the emotion.

Mastery is productive. Manipulation is counter-productive.

“I‘m sorry”.

By itself, the meaning of this phrase is ambiguous.

For example:

  1. “I’m sorry I didn’t attend the meeting. I was held up in traffic.”
  2. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  3. “Sorry about that.”

#1 is perceived as an excuse or attempted justification.

#2 is perceived as an expression of condolence and sympathy

3# is perceived as an expression of indifference.

The phrase “I’m sorry.” takes on meaning from:

  • the context in which it is said,
  • the “modifiers” that follow it (the information provided regarding what one is sorry for or about), and
  • the perception of the person receiving the “apology” in terms of the relationship with the “apologizer”, the perceived intent of the “apologizer”, and other factors

The perception of the “receiver” is impacted by many factors including:

  • relationship with the “apologizer”
  • past experiences with, and opinions about, “I’m sorry”
  • how one views any “failure to live up to expectations”
  • and so forth.

Think about this for a moment.  While there may be times when you are able to discern the nature of your boss’s reaction toward you (his perceived “threat”), there will also be times when you can’t know for certain what the basis of this perception is.

So, you may need to adjust your own comments to cover a range of possibilities.

“I’m sorry” plus restitution

When you said, “I’m sorry” and gave your explanation, your boss responded with a look that suggested his displeasure, some form of rebuke or censure, or even mild anger.

Emotional mastery would suggest that your boss perceives your communication as both inappropriate and as a “threat”.  This is the message of “anger”.  The threat, here, might involve:

  • his (or her) view of you as an “irresponsible” employee who wants to make himself feel better by justifying his “failure” to act appropriately (accountability),
  • his view of any “explanation” as a “justification” or “excuse” designed to manipulate him.

When you are attempting to interact with another person and “master” (or validate) their emotions within the context of the relationship you have with that person, you need to insure that you address the (possible) perceived threats that person might be reacting to.

When addressing a perceived threat, think about the concept of restitution.  Restitution is defined as the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner and usually appears in legal settings where a crime has been committed.

While it is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch to include the idea of  restitution with saying “I’m sorry.” as no crime has been committed, here is how I am viewing your apologizing to a skeptical boss.

Your actions are perceived as a violation of how things “should be”.  Your boss expects you to be responsible.  Your actions have violated this expectation and it this expectation  that constitutes the “loss” that you are restoring.

So, your “explanation” now involves your stating how you will make things right or restore equilibrium.

Put another way, your boss isn’t so much concerned about why you did what you did as much as he wants to know what you will do to make everything right now that whatever you did is already done.

Hence…

I’m sorry.” in a business setting? Yes, with caveats.

It is here that your intentions and how you interact with your boss become important. These are relationship elements.

Caveat #1:  Never just say “I’m sorry.”

The reason here is that, as I noted above, this phrase is like a verbal Rorschach card which, because of its ambiguity, is prone to be misinterpreted based on the biases of the listener. Understanding and accommodating these biases are done in the context of the relationship.

Caveat #2: Be aware of your own intent in saying “I’m sorry.” and clearly communicate that intent.  This is mastering your own emotions.

What are you feeling concerning the “mistake” for which you are apologizing?

Did you unintentionally make the mistake? (feeling guilty and responsible for making it right)

Was the mistake unintended but the result of a situation beyond your control? (feeling content but still responsible for making it right)

And, so forth.

Caveat #3:

Be cognizant of the likely perceptions of your listener.

If you know that your boss expects accountability and responsibility, follow your “I’m sorry.” with a brief delineation of what happened and a clear description about what you will do to make it right.

The “I’m sorry.” communicates your accepting responsibility for any unexpected outcomes.

Your explanation supports the acceptance of responsibility and commits to a plan of action to “make it right”.

Caveat #4: Be cognizant of your relationship with your listener.

How does your listener view you and what expectations does he (or she) have about you.

Tailor your response with these expectations in mind.  For example, how direct can you be with this person.  Do you need to acknowledge  power, gender or seniority differences in your communication?

With these caveats in mind, saying “I’m sorry.” is appropriate because it communicates accepting responsibility and is reinforced by a plan to move forward.

In my next post, I will go into greater detail than this post permitted regarding mastering your own emotions in the context of a relationship (Relationship Tip #1) and mastering the emotions of another person in the context of a relationship (Relationship Tip #2).

And, the post after that will go into greater detail of interacting with another person.  Relationship Tip #3 will address the Basic Relationship Rule and Relationship Tip #4 will look at shooting for a Win-Win but settling for a compromise.

I welcome your comments.

Relationship Primer: The Attributes of a Relationship

This is part 2 of the Relationship Primer series. In the last post, we defined what a relationship is and discussed three categories of relationships.

In part 2, I discuss the attributes of a relationship.

You can gain a better understanding of a relationship in terms of the function the relationship serves, what sustains it, what accounts for one’s actions within the relationship, or what might account for the relationship becoming unstable or problematic by taking a closer look at the attributes of the relationship.

The attributes of a relationship work across all three categories discussed in the last post.

The attributes of a relationship include:.

  • The context (including time frames) in which the relationship exists.
  • The rules (explicit or implicit) that apply to the relationship.
  • The expectations you and the other person bring to the relationship
  • Miscellaneous factors such as gender, power differences, age, and elements unique to each individual such as interpersonal skill sets and self-image.

Context

The context of a relationship is the setting in which that relationship occurs.  Some examples of context include..

official settings:

  • your work,
  • a business such as a store or an airport counter,
  • a governmental office,
  • an official phone contact including tech support, making an appointment, or placing an order
  • ordering food at a “sit-down” restaurant
  • a school,

casual settings:

  • starting a conversation with a stranger
  • a party
  • a “blind” date

Rules:

A rule is an explicit (stated or written) or implicit (implied or understood) regulation, mandate or principle governing conduct within a particular setting. 

Explicit rules include:

  • policies
  • contracts
  • codes including ethics
  • laws
  • parental “mandates” which apply to kids

Implicit rules include:

  • precedents (as in “the way things are done around here”)
  • implied guidelines (as in “this is the way you deal with that boss”)

If you don’t know the rules that exist within a given context or setting, you are more likely to “cross the line” and be perceived as acting inappropriately. This can lead to conflict.

If the rules are explicit, as in written policies, laws, mandates or ethics codes, it is reasonable to assume that others within your setting are familiar with, will understand, and will act according to those rules. Or, if their actions violate a given rule, informing them that a rule exists should be sufficient to produce a change in their behavior.

If you know the rules, you expect others to act in accordance with the rules and you “judge” or label the behavior of others as “right” or “wrong” based on whether that behavior conforms to or violates the rules. 

Expectations:

Context and rules often determine the expectations that participants have about how they and the other person in the relationship should act.

An expectation is a future prediction about what we believe will happen and, more importantly, what we believe is required to happen (based on whatever criteria are being applied).

Please note that an expectation involves…

  • our prediction regarding what will happen in the future and
  • our statement of what is required to take place. 

What makes expectations so critical is the belief, expressed as an expectation, that another person is obligated or required to act in accordance with the expectation.

So, if I expect you to do something and you do not, I perceive you as violating some norm or rule.  It is this perceived violation that elicits my anger, displeasure, criticism, or desire to punish or correct the violation.

One’s expectations are often the basis for misunderstandings and conflict in relationships!

Sometimes, we are aware of our expectations.  For example, we expect our server at the restaurant to be polite and attentive.  If the restaurant is not busy, we expect our coffee to be refilled as frequently as needed.  If the restaurant is busy, our expectations change accordingly.  If our coffee gets cold and is “never” refilled.  Our displeasure is clear, our expectations have not been met and the tip we may leave might reflect this displeasure.

At other times, we may not be explicitly aware of our expectations but someone does something and we are surprised at what we see.  This “surprise” is an indication that an expectation has either not been met or has been exceeded.

Our expectations impact our emotions and our actions whether we are aware of them or not.

Sometimes, there can be a conflict between the expectations of the participants in a relationship. 

When I was working as a Psychologist in a juvenile correctional facility, I wrote a report in which my “recommendation” was in direct conflict with what the Institutional team was recommending.  The Superintendent called me into his office and berated me for “not being a team player”. His expectation was that I, as a team player, would go along with the team’s recommendation.  I agreed with him about, and assured him that, I was a “team player”. In this instance, however, I had a higher standard I had to meet. My psychological data led to a different conclusion and I had an “ethical” responsibility to follow my data. My personal expectation was that, when ethics trumped loyalty, I would be ethical.

Another example is when a boss might expect that he (or she) can “take advantage” of a subordinate who “expects” to be treated with respect.  The “me-to” movement is beginning to address this “injustice”.

Miscellaneous factors:

Finally, there are other (miscellaneous) factors which can impact a relationship. Miscellaneous factors may impact the “expectations” each participant brings to the relationship.

Miscellaneous factors include:

  • gender (or gender identification)
  • power differences (when one’s position involves the ability to negatively impact a subordinate and this “power” is used to exploit a subordinate)
  • each participant’s model of the world (one’s model of the world is a general view of “the way things are in the world”or “the way things should be in the world” regarding right and wrong, interpersonal relationships, honesty, values, appropriate vs inappropriate actions, and so forth)
  • skill sets (These are the abilities that each person has including assertive skills, problem solving skills, and communication skills.)
  • the self-image of each participant (This is the picture one has of oneself and includes self-confidence, one’s place in the world, how one relates to others, one’s sense of entitlement and so forth.)

In the next post, I will look at an example of an interaction which touches upon the concepts of mastering emotions and relationship issues (reacting with another person).

Relationship Tips #1 and #2 address mastering emotions and will be covered in a later post as will Tips #3 and #4 which look more specifically maximizing your interactions with another person.

If you are registered with this blog, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Relationship Primer: What is a “relationship”?

This is the first of a series of posts on relationships.

In this series, I will help you…

  • understand what relationships are 
  • how you can appreciate the relationships you have that are “working” 
  • how you can attempt to improve the relationships that are problematic.  

In this post, I look at what actually constitutes a “relationship”.

Enjoy, and, if you are registered, please leave a comment.

What is a “relationship”?

Take a moment and think about the relationships you currently have.

You probably thought about your significant other, your kids, or perhaps someone like a family member that you used to be able to relate to but are now estranged from.

Of course, you thought of the easy, or obvious, relationships.

But, did you think of your boss, your co-workers, the clerk at the store who helped you find the perfect gift, the policeman who pulled you over on the way to work, or the tech guy you called to help you figure out how to make your phone do what it is “supposed” to do but doesn’t do for you?

Or, did you think about the person at work  you have to interact with in order to do your job but who, in reality, is a “jerk” because that individual marginalizes, demeans, or discounts you in some way?

On both counts, probably not.

What is a relationship? A working definition:

A relationship is any interaction with another person that:

  • has value, is personally meaningful,or personally significant

or

  • which, if not handled ” appropriately”, can result in unwanted consequences.

“Relationship” only indicates that there is a connection between you and another person and that you and another person are participants in the relationship.

The definition of a relationship does not, by itself, tell you anything about you, the other person, the nature of the connection, its valence (positive or negative) or how serious the connection is.

All of these elements are important and help to delineate what the particular relationship entails.

The category which you decide best describes any relationship in which you are a participant can impact the expectations you bring to that relationship.

I discuss expectations and their impact on a relationship in the next post.

Three Categories of Relationships

There are at least three categories of relationships.  The first two are obvious.

The third, while less obvious, is no less significant.

  1. Personal – family, marriage, kids, in-laws, friends, significant others
  2. Business – your boss, co-workers, or customers with whom you interact
  3. Unrecognized – the clerk at the airline ticket counter, the tech person you call about your computer, the cop who pulls you over.

Unrecognized relationships are those interactions with others  that you do not typically recognize as “relationships” but which can impact your life.  They may help you get an upgrade on your airline ticket or hotel room, help you avoid a traffic ticket, or improve your ability to achieve other “outcomes” you desire.

Years ago, I happened to be standing in line at an airport and watched a man aggressively tell the clerk that he had to get on a specific flight.  The clerk had informed him that the flight was full.  He postured, the clerk repeated what she had said, and the man left in a huff.  The next person in line approached the clerk politely, stated his need to be on the flight and, was able to get a seat.  This second customer approached the clerk as if he had a “relationship” with her.

Fluid versus concrete distinctions

The categories I have noted above and the examples I have given for each are in no way meant to be either definitive or rigid.  They can overlap.  For example, your co-worker can be a personal friend.

A suggestion: Avoid “labels” and think of all “connections” as “relationships”

As a general rule of thumb,  I try to communicate to others that I see them as a “person” and not just as a “label” such as “employee”, “cop”, “clerk” and so forth. In other words, while the connection I have with this person may not last very long, if it is “meaningful”, it is still a “relationship”.

Indeed, I am suggesting that going forward you consider all important connections that you have with other people as “relationships”.  When you do this, the importance you use as a lens through which you view that connection will have a significant impact on how you relate to the other person.

Why is this the case?

Well, there at least two reasons:

  1. When you define a connection with another person, you are viewing that connection as significant or worthy of attention.
  2. If a connection is significant, you will take some time to figure out what is going on with, how to make progress within, and how, possibly, to improve that connection.

That a connection is significant does not imply that it is positive, desirable, or healthy. As an example, that “jerk” at work may be someone whose cooperation you need to complete a project. While you might like to eliminate him (or her) from your life and consider the connection undesirable, negative, or unhealthy, it is still significant.

And, it is, therefore, a relationship.

The Attributes of a Relationship:

It is possible to gain a better understanding of the connection that constitutes the relationship by examining the various attributes which define your relationship.

I’ll discuss the attributes of a relationship in the next post.

 

Emotions and disagreements.

In a recent LI post, an article is cited in which the author writes about an interaction between a woman and her spouse. She has been thinking about a romantic trip to Paris and, as she goes into the living room to tell her husband about the trip, she is thinking to herself “I hope he agrees.”

When she tells her spouse about the trip, he says, “I disagree.”

The article breaks down the origins of the words “agree” and “disagree”.

The focus of the article is the the word “disagree”. As far as the author of the article is concerned the words “I disagree.” really mean (my interpretation) that the spouse has no intention of going to Paris.

“Disagree” is a ‘stop’ word.

In other words, the spouse has thrown cold water on his wife’s dreams and is prepared to go to battle with her using his logic about all the reasons that a trip to Paris is a non-starter.

By the way, this same scenario could occur if he approaches her with an idea which is of importance to him and she says, “I disagree.”

It is an interesting article and I recommend reading it.

But, I have a different take from an emotions as tools/anger mastery perspective.

While briefly acknowledging that “disagree” might have some other, less draconian, meaning, the author doesn’t spend much time on this possibility. Nor, does he talk about the woman’s feelings.

Let’s explore some options.

She goes into the living room and shares her dreams with her spouse. When he says he disagrees, she may feel (at least one of the following):

  1. disappointment
  2.  anger
  3. anticipation.

All emotions alert us to how we perceive our surroundings and prepare us to deal with the situations we encounter. This is the message of the emotion. How we choose to respond to the message is what mastering the emotion is all about.

Note: This italicized comments are intended to communicate a general idea rather than a specific dialog.

The message of disappointment  is that an anticipated event has not gone the way you would like. It is focusing on the implied reaction to the event rather than on the motives of the person with whom she is interacting. If she is disappointed, she has interpreted the words, “I disagree.” as meaning… Well, perhaps this trip was not a good idea at this time as my husband’s clear head usually prevails in these type of situations.

The message of anger is that she perceives a threat and is prepared to go to war to overcome the threat. Here the focus is on both the actions and the motives of her spouse. If she is angry, she may perceive him as being oblivious to her needs by thinking only of the cost of the trip, his own desire not to go to Paris, or his too quick reaction to find fault with the idea rather than explore options. She has interpreted the words, “I disagree.” as meaning.. I don’t care what you say, the answer is ‘no’ and that’s final!

The message of anticipation is that there is a future event coming which could have significant beneficial outcomes and which one is looking forward to. If she feels anticipation, than she has interpreted his words, “I disagree.” as meaning… I can’t really see Paris as a possibility now but let’s discuss it and see where it goes.

If she has learned to master her emotions as tools, her feelings will give her some guidance about how she wants to interact with her spouse. Once she identifies and validates the feeling, she can assess whether her perceptions are accurate by interacting with her spouse, expressing her perceptions and getting feedback from him. Based on this interaction, she can choose how she wants to respond.

I welcome your comments.

How I would “explain” a school shooting to my teens, if I had teenagers.

Recent events including the shooting in a High School in Florida led me to wonder about how I would help my own teenager (my own kids are adults now) if I had one who experienced an “active shooter” situation with fatalities. I have years of training so I have a sense of how to intervene and the necessary skills to do so.

Disclaimer:  This post is meant to stimulate a discussion of the issues and to provide some guidelines.  It is not meant as a tutorial or as a complete “how-to” regarding talking to a teen.  If you find yourself in the aftermath of an active shooter incident and feel that you are “in over your head”, seek professional help.

I am making some basic assumptions..

First of all, I am assuming that the teen is old enough and engaged enough to be able to discuss their feelings and their concerns.  This does not mean that there are no emotional reactions such as bad dreams, crying, a sense of vulnerability and so forth.

Secondly, I am assuming that the emotional reaction to the event has not prompted PTSD level symptoms which are so disruptive that a professional intervention is required.

Thirdly, I am assuming that the adult interacting with the teen is not so overwhelmed by their own feelings that they really can’t assure their teen about anything.

That being said, before I made any attempt to help my teen deal with this type of event, I would take whatever time it took to make it clear that whatever he (or she) was feeling, it was okay to feel it and that I would do whatever was necessary to help them get through it.  Along these same lines, I would let my child know that I also was impacted by the event.

I would, at the appropriate time, ask the teen  what they were feeling. I would expect feelings including anger, anxiety, and guilt.

While I would get to the anger eventually, as anger is easily understood in this context,  I would first attempt to address the guilt and the anxiety.

The message of guilt is that the person has done something wrong.

With this in mind, I would ask what it was that the teen felt guilty about.  What do they believe they should have done that they did not.  This is survivor guilt. I would do this before I reassured them that it wasn’t their fault.  They already know this on some level but the guilt suggests that there is some doubt that must be addressed.

After they expressed themselves, I would attempt to address the issues they brought up. I would not argue with them but would, through questions, help them begin to see that there was nothing more they could have done to prevent the shooting. Finally, if appropriate, I would share that it appeared to me that there was nothing they could have done differently.

The message of anxiety is that there may be a future event which might cause severe harm.

Anxiety is understandable under these circumstances as these events occur without warning and with fatal consequences. Adults have difficulty with these types of events as well.

Because the event is unpredictable, the teen can become consumed with worrying that it could happen again. This reality, while highly unlikely, is always  possible.

Thinking about future possible events can lead to bad dreams, a desire to avoid going back to school, feelings of vulnerability and so forth.

Here are two possible interventions I might try.

The first would be to explain what dreams are.

All of our brains are at work 24/7.  At night, when we sleep, the activities of the day stop and the brain continues to “process” whatever issue we might have been struggling with during the day.  These issues can appear in our dreams.

Dreams can be experienced as very real.

I would explain dreams to my teen and go on to say that when these dreams happen, we should acknowledge them, accept that they reflect our very real feelings, and then attempt to move past them by not allowing them to have power over us.  This takes time and must be practiced.  But, we can learn to defang our dreams.

I would then attempt to explain that while we can’t always prepare, or avoid, bad things which happen, we can do a lot to help us cope with an event which might happen in the future.

The example I would use is that of a fatal traffic accident.

Whenever we get behind the wheel of a car, we are aware that a drunk driver, an errant nail in a tire, or some unforeseen situation could result in a fatal accident which could kill us.

While we are aware of this, we still get in the car.

This is possible because we believe we are both prepared for the unforseen and are good drivers (We are prepared, alert, and attentive to other drivers.)

At some point, and I would choose very carefully when, I would explain that even if we do everything right, sometimes bad things happen including fatal accidents.

The analogy of a traffic accident can be used in the case of a school shooting.

I would explain that teachers are being trained to deal with these type of situations.

I would also tell my teen to talk about what they might look for in other students which might indicate that this person is troubled and needs to be helped.  If they see something about which they are concerned, they need to tell a teacher.  Also, if there is an active shooter in a school, then they need to be prepared to remain “calm”, lock the classroom door and shelter in place or do whatever the school has suggested they do in these situations. All of this is preparation.

Lastly, I would address the anger by validating it, explaining that the message of anger is that we perceive a threat we believe we can eliminate.  From this perspective, I would suggest that my teen use the energy of the anger to organize with their friends to impact legislators to change the laws regarding gun ownership, background checks, and so forth.

Two caveats are important here.

The first is that this is not a complete discussion of dealing with the aftermath of an active shooter situation. It is only intended as a guide to help if you find yourself having to help a teen begin to deal with the emotions that follow from a traumatic event.

Secondly, while it may look easy in black and white, this process is not easy, can take a lot of time, patience and multiple attempts.  While not easy, however, it is doable and worth the effort to implement.

As always, in these situations, professional help is always available and should be utilized.

 

 

Responsibility and Accountability: A different approach

Announcement:

Before I begin the New Year with an article I think you will find interesting, I want to let you, my readers, know that starting with today’s post, I will be posting new articles every other week rather than every week.

While there are a number of reasons for this which I won’t go into, what I would like you to know is that I am still very interested in providing content which is relevant to you.  With this in mind, I hope you will continue to leave comments (We review all of them.) about both the content I provide and any new content you would like me to address.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

-The Emotions Doctor-

Happy 2018!

I want to start the New Year with an article on responsibility and accountability because I am suggesting you begin 2018 with a different approach to how you interact with others.

And, by the way, the principles I discuss below can also be applied to yourself.  This can improve your self-esteem and your self-respect.

Someone with whom you have a “relationship” at some point will either do something “wrong” or fail to do something “right”.

That person could be a child, a spouse, or, maybe, an employee.

Perhaps you are angry because their actions are perceived as a “threat”.

Here are some possible threats:

  • to your view of right verses wrong,
  • they have negatively impacted your goals or your business,
  • or you are convinced that they just “should” not have done what they did.

You want to hold them accountable for their actions in order to:

  • make things right,
  • get justice,
  • or teach them a lesson.

Okay, while each of the above makes sense, I suggest that you avoid being too quick to rush to judgement.

Here is something to think about.

Your anger tells you that you perceive a threat in what this person has done.

Let’s agree that their behavior is a threat (whether or not it actually is).

When you move to the next step about what to do to deal with the threat, the issue becomes a bit more complicated.

If your desire is to “hold them accountable”, then you are assuming that the actions they took (or failed to take) were intentional.

If they chose to do something wrong or chose to avoid doing what was expected, then your assumption is correct and corrective action, or punishment is appropriate.

Notice the words I have italicized above.

But, what if something else is going on?

Let me explain.

When we hold someone accountable for their actions, we assume that they are capable of doing what is expected.

To be accountable is to be held RESPONSIBLE.  

If one is capable of doing what is expected, then they are RESPONSE ABLE.

I am making a distinction between Response Ibility vs Response Ability.

Before you decide how to deal with the behavior of another person, it is important to determine:

1) if they could have done what you expected and either chose not to (or just screwed up) or

2) they could not do what was expected either because they lacked a specific skillset or tool or because they completely misunderstood what was expected.

To hold a person accountable when they lacked the ability to do what was expected will elicit anger because the imposed consequence is viewed as unfair and, therefore, as a threat to their view of right and wrong.

Anger will lead to resistance which will interfere with learning.

If the goal is to change the undesired behavior, then it is important to determine that the individual was indeed response able before we hold them respons(e) sible.

In a business context, it may be your responsibility as an employer to help them secure the training they need.

As a friend (or parent), it is your responsibility to do what is necessary to make your expectations (and the reasons behind them) clear and appropriate and to  facilitate the relationship moving forward.

I welcome your comments.