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The Tactics Narcissists and other Crazymakers Employ to Manipulate You

I hope everyone is having a great summer. It has been HOT here in Texas. With heat comes a lot of extra stress and studies have revealed that road rage and other stress factors can increase in the heat. Some of the reactions can be physiological as many get overheated, dehydrated, and their adrenals get overtaxed, leading to heightened emotional reactions. Sometimes, however, people are not nice at all. In fact, they can be downright crazymakers. Following is an excerpt about Crazymakers from my Ten Keys to Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle book. An updated and revised edition will be out soon. In the meantime, you can take advantage of an Amazon special this weekend and get a free e-version of the 1st edition. Click here to order. 

Read on to learn about the different type of crazymakers and the typical tactics they employ to manipulate others. Don't forget to check out my other posts on Psychology Today. Nine types of love, modern childrearing, communicating through conflict, and finding sanity in political chaos are a few of the topics.


A mother gave her son two ties for an upcoming family occasion. She then got mad at him when he showed up at the party wearing one of the ties. She wanted him to wear the other one. Years later after the son had grown up and married, he presented his wife with two dresses for their anniversary dinner. He then got upset with her for wearing the wrong dress of the two. A few years later, after they had a daughter, the wife accused the daughter of hugging the wrong parent first—even if the little girl switched whom she hugged each time.

Crazy-makers come in all shapes and sizes and can have good and bad intentions. Some know they are being manipulative and oppressive while others haven’t a clue. Some engage in tactics consistently and others provide intermittent surprise attacks. The challenge is to recognize the behavior, assess if it’s from a healthy or unhealthy place, and then employ the proper strategies to stay sane and empower yourself.

First, let’s look at the definition of crazymaking. Crazymaking is when a person sets you up to lose. Much like the example above—you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You’re in a lose-lose situation, but too many games are being played to help you reason yourself out of it. There is no rhyme or reason or emotional-understanding with a crazy-maker. Worse, when the behavior is stealth and so confusing, it becomes easy to feel crazy. It feels like you’re caught in a whirlwind of chaos with the life force being sucked from you as you are manipulated with nonstop crazy-making tactics.

Key: Consider if You're Dealing with a Crazymaker 


The granddaddy of all crazy-makers is the narcissist. Narcissists cannot empathize with anyone, meaning they cannot relate to another person’s feelings. They can only feel their own wants and needs. They are emotionally stunted, like a perpetual demanding two-year old. It is always about them. However, they can be extremely charming and charismatic, as they have learned how to be the greatest salespeople to get their needs met. These shallow con artists can charm and mimic compassion for brief moments in order to get their needs satisfied. They expect only the best and can be the most materialistic—demanding trophy-relationships, endless objects of success, only well-known acquaintances, top-notch services, lavish vacations, etc. They have disdain for emotions in others and often think even less of people close to them. They try to control everyone around them and will use every available tactic to gain control. Many high-ranking executives are narcissists and consequently tend to create a narcissistic culture in their company or division.


Another famous crazy-maker is the drama-cultivator. Whether histrionic or borderline or a version of other similar diagnosable personalities, the drama-cultivator is best known for their perpetual crises. They are like Chicken-Little screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING,” but they expect YOU to fix it. Now. On their time. On their terms. Some people do experience an excess of rough times (and statistically it’s true that A LOT of crises can happen in one burst), but the drama-cultivator has an overabundance of crises. Plus, EVERYTHING is a crisis for the drama-cultivator. They expend their energy AND YOURS by responding to crises. They cannot empathize with others because they are too wrapped up in their chaos. Yet, they need you and your energy and don’t want you to leave them, so they go to great lengths to get and keep your attention. Like a wounded child, they also swing from loving and supporting you to getting angry and detesting you. Their moods and responses are inconsistent and dealing with them feels like you are walking in a field of hidden landmines.


The final crazy-maker is the stealth-bomber. They are the passive-aggressives that look like roses compared to the narcissist and drama-cultivator, but beware of their sharp thorns. These highly dependent people try to please you, but the nice things they do have a cost. They are the martyr that keeps score. Like a stealth bomber, just when you think everything is okay, they get you. Their modus operandi is to sabotage you while they look innocent. For instance, they will commit to doing something when they really don’t want to do it and then consistently bail out at the last minute. Or they’ll conveniently forget. Perhaps they’ll run late and miss the deadline. Everyone has these experiences now and again, but stealth-bombers do it ALL the time and they get YOU to feel guilty about it. They will make up excuses with the most ambiguous details and then sulk and act like a victim if you get upset. They will conveniently lose items, forget dates, miss deadlines, ruin plans, and then become sad and withdrawn because they’ve tried so hard. Whether it’s a narcissist, drama-cultivator or stealth-bomber, it is critical to ascertain if your power struggle stems from one of these crazy-makers. If so, empathy and rational problem-solving will not work (although paying attention to your own hot buttons is still key because crazy-makers have a keen ability to immediately spot your hot buttons and use them against you). Additional strategies are going to have to be used.


It is imperative to know if you’re dealing with a crazy-maker in the first place. However, the tendency is to be a little blind to this possibility if it’s a loved one or someone close. People seem to resist such a notion, so they end up taking the person’s behavior personally. They believe that the crazy-maker in their life could change if they wanted to change. They also expect the crazy-maker to play by the same communication and etiquette “rules” as everyone else, but they can’t. Let me repeat that again—CRAZY-MAKERS DON’T PLAY BY THE SAME RULES AS YOU. They simply don’t experience the world in the same way. It is as if they are dancing to a different song. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and energy if you realize this now and stop trying to make the crazy-maker in your life dance to your song.


The double-bind sets you up to lose. It can be like the example in the beginning where the mother gives two ties to her son and then gets mad at him for selecting to wear the wrong tie of the two. It can also be as subtle as a person giving a scolding look while saying, “I love you.” Another example is the ever-famous situation with two siblings and report cards. One has made all A’s and the other all C’s and D’s. The parent responds with “I know you did you’re best. Not everyone can be as smart and great as Johnny who makes all A’s,” which puts both siblings in a double-bind with each other. Double-binds are negative messages disguised in a positive message or gesture. The insult about choosing the wrong tie is cloaked in the gift of the tie. The son is trapped because if he complains, she can say he doesn’t appreciate the gift. The “I love you” is coupled with an angry look, so one is prevented from addressing the look because the counter-argument might be, “But I said ‘I LOVE YOU’.” Finally, both siblings are in a bind from saying anything to their mother about the grades as the punch in the stomach is hidden with supposed praise. Double-binds happen all of the time. Start paying attention and you’ll be appalled by the frequency. Crazy-makers employ this tactic most often. So, what do you do? The answer lies in boundary strategies at the end of this section.


Crazy-makers are superior at giving inconsistent praise. Narcissists, drama-cultivators and stealth-bombers are adept at keeping you on your toes and getting you to beg for their praise. There’s even a scientific explanation for it. Inconsistent praise tends to elicit desired behavior the most. As an example, numerous animal researchers have discovered that the best way to train an animal is with an inconsistent reward. Yes, an inconsistent reward produces the most compliant behavior in animals. That is why gambling can be so addictive because it provides an inconsistent reward. We literally get hooked. Crazy-makers have somehow figured this out and provide the people around them with inconsistent praise. Sometimes they are just so loving, present and/or flattering that it feels good. Then it’s gone. Some people get hooked and continue to put up with crazy-making behavior because they are waiting for the payoffs—the praise. In fact, crazy-maker’s praise probably does feel better than the person who is consistent with it. But, like gambling, it can be an addictive high that also has a queasy, unsettling feeling to it along with a high cost.


Crazy-makers have selective memories. We all do, but crazy-makers are exceptional with it. They conveniently forget any problems you’ve had with them when they want something from you. Then they throw every wrong you’ve ever done in your face when they are upset with you. Like above, it’s inconsistent. You never know what your review will be like because you’ve learned that it depends on their mood. You know that the only thing you can depend on with a crazy-maker is that you can’t depend on them. They will hold a grudge against you and then expect you to forget any disruptions. They will manipulate like crazy and use their selective memory as ammunition.


Crazy-makers can not empathize. This is how you really know that you’re dealing with a crazy-maker because they will simply not be able to understand your feelings or situation. They might try to and give you a sense that they understand, but they can’t sit with it very long and generally turn the conversation back onto their feelings or situation. This is an important point. Empathy is a developmental trait. A child at 4 years begins to play with others in a more cooperative fashion for the first time. Prior to that, children play with themselves. If they are with other children, they are most likely playing in an individual fashion while sitting next to other children, referred to as serial play. That’s normal because they haven’t developmentally learned to share and take turns. Such skills kick in at around the fourth year. Empathy begins at this time as well. You’ll see evidence of empathy when you watch a child trying to calm down another crying child by giving them a hug. Typically, a crazy-maker personality has not developed empathy, so they are more like a perpetual two-year old at an emotional level. Knowing this is critical to protecting yourself in a power struggle with them. Keeping strong boundaries is key to dealing with a crazy-maker.

Learn what you can do to protect yourself from crazymakers along with other strategies for staying empowered in power struggles in my book. Order this weekend and get a FREE e-version on Amazon.

Tips for Managing your Listserve and Facilitating Clear Communication

Do you belong to a listserv that has gotten out of hand? Do people take things personally and attack? Are misunderstandings abundant? Life and human to human communication can be like that. However, it seems to get worse in email as that critical body language that conveys up to 85% of our communication is absent. Thus, people misinterpret messages. Add groupthink on top of that and it’s no wonder listserves can be a hot bed for contention. To curb contention and increase productive teamwork, here are a few tips to making your listserv communication clearer and smother.

 >    State purpose of listserv clearly and succinctly in a way that provides an umbrella framework for communication parameters. This purpose statement can be set up as an automatic “signature” that is displayed on the bottom of each reply to reinforce and remind listserv members to make appropriate posts according to the purpose. (e.g. The XYZ listserv is to discuss research, trends, and provide collegial assistance and support to counseling professionals on common practices, procedures, and ethics in counseling along with typical client, classroom and curriculum support.)

 >    Set-up listserv guidelines (a list of do’s and don’ts) that can be followed by the listserv owner and must be agreed upon before a member can join. This serves as a reminder of what is allowed and not allowed and can be referred to by the listserv owner when mediating a dispute or removing someone from the listserv. Typical guidelines can include items like use of language, political and commercial discussion bans, directives to personal disputes offline, privacy of member information, and references/limitation to Constitutional rights.

 >    Listserv owners strengthen group communication when they act neutral in disputes. When disputes arise on a listserv, simply remind members to take it offline before it gets out of control and then urge them to respond to listserv with any solutions. This serves as a template for future conflict resolutions. It is also beneficial if the listserv owner does not jump in to discuss the issue, but only serve as a facilitator. This aids the listserv owner’s credibility and neutrality, much like the role of a presiding office in a meeting as described in “Robert’s Rules of Order.”

>    For further ideas on member communication, seek out the organization’s by-laws, “Robert’s Rules of Order,” or even the U. S. Bill of Rights. Remember, however, that keeping guidelines simple and flexible is always the best rule of thumb to elicit the beneficial effects of honest and open communication. Also, keep in mind that even a little conflict can serve a purpose and lead to enhanced changes and learning opportunities for members.


When Things Go Wrong - Travel!

Have you ever noticed that summer comes at just the right time? Exhaustion from life’s demands seems particularly high around this time. It’s as if mental burnout rises alongside the rising seasonal temperatures (as experienced here in the U.S and definitely in Texas).  If you can relate, traveling is your antidote.

In today’s economy, vacations at home (“staycations”) have become popular. The downside to a staycation, however, (and, no, this is not a paid endorsement from a travel agency) is that you may miss something critical that a travel experience provides you—fresh perspective.

We get so wrapped up in daily rituals that we end up getting stuck in a box and then we feel overwhelmed with life. Tunnel vision is the result.

The solution to tunnel vision is getting out of the box of your everyday experiences and changing your surroundings. This allows you to see things from a different point of view and to gain a fresh perspective. You can discover alternative solutions that you would have never dreamed possible. Traveling is the best way to achieve it, as Kent Nerburn points out in his book, “Simple Truths.”

Travel, no matter how humble, will etch new elements in your character. You will know the cutting moments of life where fear meets adventure and loneliness meets exhilaration. You will know what it means to push forward when you want to turn back…you will understand that there are a thousand, million ways to live, and that your life will go on to something new and different and every bit as worthy as the life you are leaving behind.

Whether you’re leaving a piece of life behind or an old way of seeing a situation, travel can have a profound affect on you. It can reinforce deep bonds with your family and loved ones. It can open your heart and mind to possibilities. It can connect you to your inner passions and dreams. It can uplift your spirit and restore your energy. It can also serve to foster brotherhood with all of mankind.

Whatever is happening in your life right now—deadlines, relationship troubles, career challenges, grief, money troubles, parenting issues, crisis of faith, general malaise—go out and discover your personal solutions by traveling. Make plans for a real vacation. Leave for a weekend getaway. Learn new cultures. Go explore. Have an adventure. Then drop me a line (KimberlyATencompasswf.com) and tell me how it changed your life.

Bon voyage !

Secrets of How Successful Entrepreneurs Survive Fear

fear Behind every successful entrepreneur lay a field of hidden landmines riddled with fear (“fearmines”). Some were stepped on. Others lay dormant, under the surface, affecting the journey just the same. The key is to be aware of them, know where to step, and what to do when you step on one.

The first and most important thing to know is that EVERYONE has fear.

Successful entrepreneurs just know how to work with it. In fact, successful entrepreneurs were once unsuccessful—the difference is that they continued taking steps on their path in spite of the obstacles (the biggest being their own fears).

àStep one is to get comfortable with your fear and reassure yourself that it’s a natural part of your journey’s landscape.

Once you realize that you’re not alone and that fear is normal, you can then employ measures to avoid needlessly stepping on fearmines all the time.

Fearmines often look a little different. They tend to leave a little bump on the surface and can easily be seen IF you take the time to look. Once observed, you’ll recognize it as some old sensitive wound.

Maybe the wound was something your parents told you (“Get your head out of the clouds!” when you were daydreaming or coming up with new inventions.) Or perhaps it was from being ridiculed by your peers, the ones who insisted you’d never amount to anything and would be doomed to poverty.

àWhatever the wound, take time to recognize it so you can avoid stepping on it and repeating the damage (e.g. like when you repeat the damage by yelling at yourself “Get your head out of the clouds!” after you’ve experienced a let down).

Another common fearmine includes control. Being able to adapt to change and uncertainty is the prerequisite for succeeding as an entrepreneur. People who need a high degree of control will tend not to be as spontaneous, imaginative, flexible, and inventive. Usually they’re like this because of fear.

When we feel out of control and overwhelmed, we tend to take control. However, control is a tricky illusion. The irony is that our fear reaction tends to make us take control where we don’t have it and give up control where we do have it (with ourselves).

àTake stock of your feelings and recognize if fear is making you overcompensate with controlling and/or self-sabotaging behaviors.

A couple of common fearmines have been addressed, but what do you do when actually you step on one?

Failure (getting lost in the fear) is part of the process. Fully feeling the fear and moving through it builds your resilient muscles—and it’s exactly these muscles that make you thrive as an entrepreneur (and as an artist, as a human being, as a parent, as a soul). What counts is taking that deep breath and continuing on the journey knowing that unresolved issues will still be there, but you’ll be stronger the next time when you inevitably reach them again.

àRecognize and repair once you’ve stepped on a fearmine. Honor it. Feel the feelings.  Control your part and avoid overcompensating. Then get back up and keep going. 

By now you’re seeing the pattern that fear creates action (even if inaction)—actions which aren’t always healthy for our self-worth or our entrepreneurial ventures. Understanding how your personal fearmines influence your behavior and how best to compensate for them makes the difference. Knowing this is a normal process helps you to keep going. Recovering from a fearmine is the success. 

Remember that everyone has felt like a pretender and questioned their talent and venture. It’s fundamental human nature to seek understanding, desire approval, and dream of complete acceptance—and fear when we don’t have these things. To fear is human and to recover from it, divine. When treated properly, fear can propel us into depth, growth, and inventiveness beyond any of our perceived limitations.

If you would like coaching with this issue or any other area in your life, please take advantage of Encompass Work & Family’s FOUR-YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL –

A trio of sessions (3 hours) PLUS our proprietary and most sought-after Key Essential Life Balance Assessment (an MRI of your life that helps you learn exactly where you’re overcompensating and under-focusing and how to get back on track in each area of your life)…

The trio of sessions and assessment is only $299 ($675 regular) through the end of 2009. 

You may be redeem your paid gift certificate now or at anytime through April 2010. 

How the Hidden Blueprint of Childhood Directs Your Career


How can a damaged upbringing hurl you into career greatness?

You’ve probably heard of numerous examples where people have beaten all odds and succeeded in accomplishing their dreams. The subtle message in these cases seems to suggest that rough beginnings and hardships are the secret ingredients to success. That’s why I laughed and laughed when I heard the line “Don’t fix your Daddy issues!” on Samantha Who?, a former ABC sitcom starring Christina Applegate as an amnesiac who finds herself in a successful job but learns she wasn’t a very nice person to many people. The friend that cautioned her from getting to know her father better said that those initial family problems were exactly why she was so good in her job. (Clearly this advice isn’t so good for my job. But if you watch the show, you’ll learn she’s a much happier person by reuniting with her emotions and changing her former greed at all costs approach to life.)

Similarly, I’m often asked how our childhoods can affect our jobs—especially the risk-taking nature of an entrepreneur. It’s highly individual of course, but here’s a theory that can satiate your curiosity a bit. See if you can identify yourself in any of the following categories and learn how it impacts you, your loved ones and your career and  business ventures.

The attachment theory is one of my favorites and a lot of empirical research has given it more validity over the years. The simple description of attachment theory is how you initially bonded with your primary caregiver (Mother? Father? Adopted parent?) forms the basis of how you will interact (or attach) to everything else in your life. This can be a relationship, hobby, home, career and/or your business venture. 

Secure Attachment – The person who has a secure attachment received the perfect balance of love and nurturing from their parent. The parent was attentive to their needs and empathetic (could feel their feelings). The parent was not intrusive (bugging the baby even if the baby expressed displeasure) or neglectful (not paying attention to the baby). The securely attached person grows up with a sense of confidence, trust, and wisdom. They do not stay in situations that do not work. For example, they would move on if a relationship or venture showed clear signs of failure. Conversely, they would not just give up either. They would make the appropriate amount of effort. (Not everyone has this attachment style, but it’s something we can all learn to cultivate in life.

Avoidant Attachment – The avoidant person had a parent that was more neglectful. The parent could not empathize or was just so busy that they could not be as responsive to their child. Consequently, the child learned that being alone was normal. The avoidant adult is not as good with empathy. Moreover, they do not handle intimacy very well as it can feel suffocating and provoke anxiety. They prefer to keep a distance. This can translate into getting into relationships but not being very close (perhaps traveling or working a lot to maintain adequate distance). It can also mean growing tired of ventures and needing new things to do more frequently.

Insecure Attachment – An insecure attachment simply means that the parent swung from being available to not being available, leaving the baby confused and feeling more anxious about losing and/or attracting the parent. The insecure adult brings this underlying anxiety into their relationships and constantly battles with the fear of losing relationships and the desire to have distance. This person most experiences the tension of the togetherness and separateness continuum. In their venture, they may vacillate about what to do as a consequence.

Paying attention to your anxiety is key to healing the wound if you find yourself identifying with the latter two styles. Re-nurturing yourself can help shift you into a more secure attachment style. You can also go to a counselor or coach as this is one of the secret reasons such processes work. The bond you develop with your therapist or coach can form a new attachment style when your interactions are trusting, open and positive. 

(Stay tuned for the next blog post as it will discuss ways you can self-nurture and self-heal.)

The Biggest Reason Entrepreneurs Fail

I’ve seen companies succeed and I’ve seen companies fail. In fact, I’ve been part of companies that were able to sustain steady growth and still thrive today while others collided as soon as they took off. One company, in particular, that comes to mind never should have failed, but it did. It’s also the reason I transitioned out of engineering and got into entrepreneurial coaching in the first place.

Their cause of failure was caused by relationship strive and power struggles (see my book at www.TenKeysToPowerStruggles.com if you or anyone you know is experiencing this problem). Yet, this post is entitled the biggest reason entrepreneurs fail and although I believed at one time that businesses failed because of problematic human interactions, I’ve now come to realize that there’s an even lower common denominator than that—and it’s something most business experts have missed.

Take a moment and think about what you’ve heard, read, or experienced as the leading cause of business failure.

Are you listing them?

Let’s see if any of these are on the list: 

Did you come up with inadequate or lack of planning?

How about marketing? 

Did you say stupidity? (Well, surely you’ve had that sentiment from time to time.)

Okay, what about not having enough capital?

Or, as my previous experience revealed, how about relationship challenges (this can include battling with a partner, investor, staff, or just plain overlooking the customer’s needs).

According to entrepreneurship author and Case Western University professor Scott Shane, there’s even the possibility that failure is a measure of a good economy if your venture folded. He purports, “Having fewer entrepreneurs means that we are experiencing economic growth. The more developed a country is, the fewer people work for themselves.”

This post isn’t about telling you to go work for a high growth company. (Although it’s cool if you do.) This is about providing support and insight so that you can make your entrepreneurial venture succeed—and maybe even turn it into one of those high growth companies that Shane says is good for our GDP. If that interests you, then please read on.

I listed some of the common reasons people say that businesses fail. There’s a lot of research out there that provide reasons and many of the stats contradict other researchers’ findings. There’s also the discussion about teasing out superfluous data and accounting for confounding variables, etc. However, What I’ve found to be at the core of most of my client’s issues is this one basic human flaw that undermines even our best intentions.

This flaw explains why smokers can’t seem to quit even when the doctor says it’s going to kill them and they desperately desire to quit.

It also accounts for the billions of dollars that are spent on gym memberships, self-help programs, and other health and wellness miracles that end up unused and untried as soon as the commitment was made.

I believe this flaw translates into business start-ups and reveals why most business fail (8 out of 10) within the first year (64% by the fifth year).

This flaw, while seemingly simple, is the disease responsible for ruining your best intentions. It’s why you can’t focus—and, unfortunately, it’s worsened with the advent of video games, microwave ovens, and microblogging sites like Twitter.

It’s not ADD or ADHD, but it is this distracter gene’s ancestor and it resides in ALL of us. 

It’s our primal reptilian brain that causes us to be so immediate focused that it takes us right off track from our original agenda. It’s the source of procrastination. It’s the source of emotional hijacking. It’s why the best-laid plans go awry.

The primal reptilian brain feeds off of distraction, drama, and holds tight to emotional traumatic triggers that transform wisdom and grace into momentary flights of rage and despair. 

The good news is that the primal reptilian brain can be your best ally. You just need to learn how to harness your inner power and make your primal brain work for you rather than against you. 

For instance, let’s say you want to make X number of marketing calls a week, but you never seem to get it done. Basically you keep finding yourself procrastinating. You might loathe the task. Maybe you have some fear of failure or rejection. You could even have fear of success. Or you get distracted with all of your other responsibilities. Whatever the reason may be, your primal brain is working against you if you’re not making the calls—and it’s feeding off the energy from the fear, loathing and/or distractions.

The trick to making your primal brain assist you in making those marketing calls can be two-fold. You can employ that good old-fashioned work ethic that says you have to make X number of calls a day before you can relax or have some type of reward. Secondly, you can also up the ante by offering a penalty payment to your assistant, colleague, mentor, or a family member each time you don’t make the required calls that week. However, in order for this last part of the trick to work, it needs to be realistic but painful enough to make you miss the money that was doled out as your penalty payment.

This last tricks works because it makes your primal brain want to protect you from the pain of the money loss. Before that, your primal brain sensed the pain from the fear and loathing and worked hard to keep you off your task no matter how much you tried to motivate or convince yourself.

Did you get that? Your primal brain is motivated to protect you and any sign of fear of loathing activates your primal brain, causing it to rescue you from the source of your pain.

Now think about what happens when you start a business. That’s right—fear of failure. Fear of those looming statistics that say you’re probably going to fail. Fears from your family, friends and colleagues who shake their head at your decision. Fear from the loss of security, benefits and support staff that makes you feel safe when you’re working for a stable company. Fear of your own decision-making skills. Need I go on? The inherent and pervasive fear from kicking off an entrepreneurial venture can activate your primal brain to protect you and make you abandon your venture (either through procrastination of a needed but dreaded task, overwhelmed helplessness, poor relational functioning, etc.).

However, your primal brain can be your most powerful ally and loyal protector. The key is learning how to make it work for you so that you can accomplish the goals your frontal lobe creates (e.g. business plans, entrepreneurial ventures, networking, writing a book, losing weight, going on dates, listening, eating healthy, etc., etc.). 

If you would like to learn specific methods for harnessing your inner ally and making your primal brain work for you rather than against you, please join me for a special-request seminar focused on entrepreneurial coaching methods that will help you harness your inner power and achieve greater success in accomplishing goals based on your passion and purpose. This is an intimate gathering of pre-screened committed entrepreneurs only with limited spots available. If you’re interested in attending, please contact me at 512.617.6356 to discuss where you’re at in your business and how this seminar can help you.

Harness Your Inner Power Seminar

Jun 26-27 


What to Expect: Presentation with interaction among group members sharing their experiences with the common pitfalls of entrepreneurship, life management and ineffective habits. Bring a list of the challenges you want to overcome in your business, life and even your family, and learn customized approaches to harnessing your inner power and making your primal brain work for you rather than against you. You’ll leave with renewed energy, motivation AND real applicable strategies that will make you overcome the procrastination and devastating habits that cause 8 out of 10 businesses to fail within the first year (64% by the fifth year).

Are You Profiting Off Someone Else's Pain?

Today I was asked how it felt to profit off people’s pain. It’s not the first time I heard this question. The other time came from a busy male CEO that seemed to sneer at my decision to leave engineering and become a counseling therapist.

Today’s question came from a similarly successful male executive. I felt sad and a little misunderstood. I also couldn’t help but recognize the irony that each of them has a net worth far greater than mine.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, I began thinking about all of the layoffs around the world; the state of our health from unhealthy fast food and inactivity; the quality of our relationships that compete with technology, addictions, and a relentless desire for instant gratification; and this ubiquitous thing called the “rat race” that deems a large net worth and array of material possessions as a measure of success. Am I profiting or are the people that have created and sustained this “rat race” culture?

The effects of this “rat race” culture are frightening. Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me, cites data that indicates narcissism is escalating by 30% since the 1960s. Childhood poverty in the U.S, has also been on the rise since 2000. In fact, almost half of our children are living in families that range from low-income to poverty level. On top of that, our uninsured rate continues to climb. Unemployment is at staggering rates. Not surprisingly, insecurity and the anxiety that stems from this current environment is at an all time high.

The silver lining can be summed up by the adage, when one door closes, another one opens. This national and global crisis is an opportunity to re-focus on what matters. We need to change the “rat race” culture and focus on how we are raising the next generation.

Rather than profit off people’s weaknesses (providing fast food that people can eat in a car…knowing that people procrastinate and will unlikely cancel their subscriptions that renew automatically…manipulating people to reciprocate and purchase a product when given something for free…selling them cosmetic surgeries that feed their insecure-based self-obsession…capitalizing on their fears with unnecessary products…etc., etc.), we all need to come together and make our character and relationships - not money - the measure of our success. When we do, we cultivate empathy and compassion for people. When we do that, we don’t even think of business schemes that hurt people (Ponzi schemes, etc.).

In closing, I am struck by an example Benjamin Franklin gives in his autobiography about how he was raised as a child. During instruction, they were told not to notice the food they were eating or any of the table settings (external items that money buys) but to focus on the lessons and what was “good, just and prudent in the Conduct of Life.” Perhaps that is something we can all practice. Don’t focus on profit in business, but on what is good, just and prudent in the Conduct of Life.

(Please note-All members of the American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association and similar professional therapy organizations have a strict code of ethics that focuses on the client’s well-being over profit. All professionals must also provide a certain percentage of pro-bono and community work. In addition, most of my colleagues, and myself included, have frequently extended our services and waived fees on a case-by-case basis with our clients as needed.)

The Danger of Getting Stressed Out by the Current Economy

No matter what country you live in, you most likely feel effects from the current global economic difficulties. People are losing homes, jobs, relationships, and security. When this happens, desperation and despair takes over. Stress thrives and is contagious.

According to a survey by the by the American Psychological Association (APA), 58% of people take their stress out on their loved ones. Other APA research reveals that stress manifests as illness in the body for even more people—up 77% of people in stress report having physiological symptoms and 73% of people in stress reported psychological symptoms. When this happens, more people are impacted by stress and a viscous stress cycle continues to grow and expand.

What can you do to keep stress at bay? Take time to heal yourself before stress gets out of control. Take time to breathe throughout the day (deep breathing can be a miracle cure for many ailments). Remember what’s important. Get back to basics. Stress thrives in chaos and confusion, and tends to diminish in simplicity. Live simply—from the heart—and you will feel better. So will the people around you.


If you are experiencing serious side-effects of stress, please seek help with a therapist or counselor immediately. Stress gets worse if left untreated. If you're out of a job and can't pay, many will work with you if you ask them. Please feel free to contact my office if you would like to discuss your needs.


Getting a Job after Being Laid Off…Stage Three: Employing Top-Notch Interview and People Skills

Business pople world As discussed in the previous series of posts, by now you’ve been working through the grief of your lost job, did some soul-searching, identified your skills and job desires, polished your résumé boilerplate and customized it to fit each job opportunity, networked, and now you’ve landed a job interview for that job you really want. What do you do?


This is where I point you back to stage one. Grief. You may still have some unprocessed grief that can make you a little extra panicked about the job interview. It’s normal. Take a moment to feel the feelings of any fear or panic and then breathe and reassure yourself that you WILL be okay if you don’t get this job. Yes, you read that correctly. Let it go and feel the feelings that everything will be okay if you do not get the job. Clinginess and desperation often repel people, so releasing any of these feelings will make you more approachable.


When you go into the interview, you may be asked a series of questions about your background and why you are the best match for the job. Some of the questions may even be ridiculous, like what kind of animal you would be in your career. Don’t worry about those. There are no wrong answers. The key is to be Genuine, Present, Respectful, and Real. Listen to the interviewer and hear the question behind the question. For instance, you may be asked why you spent such a short amount of time at your previous jobs when what they really want to know is whether you’ll be committed to the company and dependable for the long haul. If it is the job you desire (and it must be if you’ve followed the steps in this series) then you can look the interviewer directly in the eye and assure her/him that you are completely committed and would like to see yourself working with them for years to come.


This brings me to my next point. The interviewer is a human being—not a judge. Build a relationship and make Contact with them. Connecting to them as a genuine person and professional can reap rewards beyond the job. It will help you to settle in the job if you get it, as you will have an inside team member advocating for your success. Or, if you both discover the job is not a mutual fit, you can still ask for their assistance, referrals or even work with them down the road.


To recap, being Genuine, Present, Respectful and Real leads to making Contact – which provides you with one of the most essential skills the U.S. Department of Labor says is needed in today’s global economy. To aid your memory, your interview and “people relations” formula for success is: G+P+R+R=C


Sometimes contact gets broken because of other factors, like power struggles. People tend to fight for their turf and want to feel that their sense of worth isn’t being trampled by a new person. Interviewers and managers can also suffer from such struggles—especially if they’re new at interviewing or managing and not very confident in their own skin. They might tend to overcompensate and act controlling or micromanaging. If this is the case, you might want to utilize some proven power struggle cures.  They are in my new eBook, Ten Keys for Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle, which many are praising as a powerful tool for curing conflict. You can access it at www.TenKeysToPowerStruggles.com   

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Stick

Happy Holidays to everyone out there. I hope the peace of the season is able to find its way into your and your loved ones’ heart, mind, spirit and body. Best wishes for 2009! I hear it’s going to be a good one, so spread the word.


If you’re taking a break from your revelry or hard work to read this right now (or if it’s just a way of procrastinating), let me try to offer a little inspiration to help you make your New Year’s resolutions last throughout 2009.


First, I’ll start by sharing an experience from graduate school. I was taking an advanced counseling class and a student was crying after recounting the pain he felt during Christmas because his mother was deceased and it was their first Christmas without her. You could feel the heavy longing in his heart as he described his immense love for her. We all hung on his every word and began to tear up with him when one student reached over to hand him a box of Kleenex. Then out of nowhere the professor intercepted the student with the Kleenex and commanded her return to her seat. It was startling and took me by surprise. All eyes were now on the professor as he explained that handing a Kleenex to a crying client interrupted the release of their pain and really indicated a counselor’s discomfort with heavier emotions.


What does that have to do with making New Year’s resolutions? The answer has a twist in it.


When you think of New Year’s resolutions, what comes to mind? Losing weight? Quitting smoking? Increasing exercise? Being on time to appointments and with deadlines? Increasing your bottom line?


Have you noticed what many of the typical resolutions have in common? They are remedial in nature and tend to focus on weaknesses. They are like dictates from our inner slave-driver that is disgusted by us and is demanding improvement. So we respond by setting the prescribed resolutions as our goal and then try to adhere to them a bit begrudgingly. It is no wonder that more than 2/3 of Americans polled have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions by spring.


So, how can you make New Year’s resolutions that stick?


This is where the twist comes in.


Typically, this time of year brings up a host of emotions for people. Many experience grief—grief over a lost loved one; grief over an unfulfilled dream; grief over money; grief over lost career or market opportunities; even grief over the lack of sunlight. Grief has a stealth way of getting you if it isn’t completely processed—which is more frequent than not. We put it aside. Friends hand us Kleenex and tell us to cheer up and that it will get better. So we repress. Then, I believe, we beat ourselves up a bit and demand a few ridiculous resolutions (maybe they’re not ridiculous, but we feel a little rebellious by our inner slave-driver).


Would you like an alternative suggestion that will result in New Year’s resolutions that stick?


One, don’t be afraid to take a little time-out to grieve this season. It’s normal and healthy. Take some time to walk by yourself and allow the feelings to flow. Maybe write about it in a journal. Talk and process it a bit. Look at old pictures, former goals, re-read old diaries…whatever it is that helps the feelings come up and flow out. Taking a little time for this can provide you rejuvenation. It also makes you a little more alive.


Second, after you’ve given yourself time to grieve and you’ve nurtured yourself. Attempt to make resolutions that focus on the positive. Try assessing your strengths and resolve to enhance what you’re already good at and love. Whatever you commit to, do it from a place of self-care and not inner slave-driver. Then use this year as a test to see if the resolutions stick.


Good luck and best of care throughout 2009!


(this is a post from my new blog series on the Club E NETWORK, the online gathering place for entrepreneurs. It's a great resource and free to join, so check them out if you're an entrepreneur or considering starting your own business and want to learn from others.)




Managing Your Net Rep

Do you know your Net Rep? It’s that little impression that comes up when someone searches your name in Google or Yahoo. Advertisers call it brand image and work hard to give a good impression or feeling of a product they want to sell. Your Net Rep (Internet Reputation) gives a similar impression and feeling about you. But it can be positive or negative, depending on how you’ve managed it and IF you’ve managed it.


First, how does a Net Rep get built in the first place? With the widespread usage of the World Wide Web, people across the globe have used the Internet to join social networking sites (like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo Pulse and more). They have posted their résumés on various job search sites. They have joined special interest networking group sites (such as photography groups, hiking groups, and other network groups centered around various hobbies). People also ask questions and post responses to other inquiries on topic-related sites (think medical support groups, diet groups, book reviews, movie reviews, etc. where some, but not all are anonymous postings). Every time a posting or profile is made, Google and other search engines’ spiders take note. The more your name is posted on various sites, the higher your search engine results are going to be. That means everything you post on the Internet paints a picture about you and all of the pieces of that picture will be seen by one simple search on a search engine.


Marketers know the power of Net Rep building and purposely try to place a product or client’s name all over the World Wide Web in strategically advantageous places. You can do the same, but first you need to figure out what your existing Net Rep reveals. To do this, reexamine the content on your social networking sites from the prespective of a boss, employee, or client. Consider what your information reveals about you and how it may impact your professional reputation and credibility. 


An example of how social networking content can backfire on someone is by using sites for dating searches. A senior executive was borderline harassing employees and potential employees through public sites. The behavior was observed by investors and became an issue for the company, along with almost costing the executive’s job.


One more cautionary note is that privacy locks on your sites do not always work. Member profiles still show up on “friends” and group lists along with any comments that have been made on other people’s sites. Basically, a trail of Internet bread crumbs leads anyone back to a site that is even marked private, so be cautious about the friends you accept and the posts you make.


The upside is that you can use the Internet bread crumbs in your favor by posting positive material that reinforces the image you want to convey. People like to see the humanity behind a person’s name, so posting favorite quotes, movies, and philosophical views can be positive if that’s the image you want to convey—especially when it’s congruent with your inner self. Sharing a personal story through your site profiles and revealing what you care about can go a long way. Even microblogging updates about what you are doing right now can enhance your Net Rep as long as they are true and not too abundant (e.g. Preparing for marathon to help abused children; Finishing grant proposal for mental health study on career mobility; Attending professional economic conference; Going on hike and smelling the flowers.).


Managing a Net Rep can be a lot like tending a garden. Plant good and healthy seeds and maintain upkeep. Revisit sites you’ve joined and keep the content positive. If people have posted negative things about you, make positive public comments or delete the profile if you’re getting harassed. You can also combat a negative posting through increased positive postings by colleagues and friends. Ask for public referrals, recommendations, and testimonials. Be professional and courteous with all of your postings—even in listserves. People across the world are watching, so communicate on the Internet with caution and wisdom.

Your $5 a Month Personal Coach for Health, Wealth & Happiness

What one thing do clients get the most out of our sessions? New positive thought processes. While I can work with clients on issues that are unique to them and their circumstances, I have found repeating patterns among many - especially in these current economic conditions. Fear has been at an all time high right now as people fear losing their savings, jobs, homes, and primary relationships. This is made worse because fearful thoughts form deep neural pathways of negative thinking that reinforce and actually manifest the very thing that's feared ("self-fulfilling prophecy"). The flip side is that you can focus on what you want and create it in your life, like Walt Disney's famous quote "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Many know this, but few achieve it. Why? There are a few reasons. People get distracted and respond to issues in the moment. Fear and negative thinking are difficult to override. The negative messages in the environment (sometimes referred to as the "real world") compete with positive intentions. Over time, people go back to their normal way ("set point") of thinking and believing. For those who can afford it, coaching helps and keeps people on a path that overcomes these obstacles. Yet, not everyone can afford a coach. In addition, coaches cannot be with their clients 24 hours a day.
I'm so excited to share that we have a NEW SOLUTION for you! We have developed InstantMotivator.com to serve as your personal coach. Simply visit the site and create an account to send a motivational message as a text message to your phone at any time interval you select. Some clients have used "I have more money than I can imagine" and had it sent to their phone every three hours. They meditate and imagine it's true every time they see the message...and guess what? It's been working for them. Others have used it to connect to and nurture their inner child, creating peace and healing old emotional wounds. Still others have used it to reignite the love and passion in their relationships. The service is limitless and you can change the message any time to work on a new manifestation or healing. Please visit the site and see the affirmation examples as well. For $5 a month, it'll be the best investment you've made for yourself.
Good luck with InstantMotivator.com and happy healing & manifesting!

P.S. Please share the good news about InstantMotvator.com with other people you know. It's also a great and affordable gift that can really help someone.


363834a_b~Freshly-Hatched-Baby-Chick-with-Broken-Egg-Posters Family psychotherapists have long known that a person will underfunction if the other person overfunctions. The same holds true in business. To illustrate, did you know you would kill a baby chick if you helped it crack its shell while it was trying to break free? The baby chick needs the muscle development from cracking its shell to survive and thrive in the world. Life experience and failures create that same thriving muscle in humans. Kids need to be able to fall in order to learn. Employees need to be free to fail in order to succeed. Simply put, failure leads to success.
If you’re experiencing a little failure right now, take comfort that goodness can come out of it. Hang in there and keep cracking that shell because there’s an exciting world on the other side.
If you’re watching someone failing and feeling a little anxious because you want to help them out of their struggle, find strength in knowing they might just be developing some great success muscles without your intervention. However, you can offer them your support, caring and then cheer them on when they succeed.

Secret to Entrepreneurial Endurance

Entrepreneurs take risks. Good entrepreneurs take the right risks and reap rewards. Some of these rewards include monetary success, freedom, satisfaction, meaning, purpose and a bunch of other highly individual aspects that come from reaching one’s goal. However, not all is rosy for any entrepreneur. Taking risks has costs. Families may not be as supportive. Friends can frustrate through cajoling and competitiveness. Even the entrepreneur can get deflated with their own internal voice that chides in the middle of the night, “When are you going to settle down and get a REAL job?”
If you’re an entrepreneur and can relate to any of this, you might be wondering if it’s possible to decrease the costs of risk-taking while increasing the benefits. It IS…and the secret lies in HOW you take the risk.
First, and something I see with A LOT of entrepreneurs, is the ENORMOUS amount of TIME that’s put into busy work. STOP. I understand that taking risks as an entrepreneur can be scary. It feels worse when people around you don’t understand and can’t offer support (which is critical and essential for anyone to succeed). Busy work makes it worse and increases the costs of risk-taking. To avoid this, you’ll have to understand why people engage in costly busy work.
Typically, when people feel any form of anxiety, they try to decrease the anxiety with some kind of action. Often, it’s just plain busy work that’s not really effectively productive. Rather, it’s an anxiety release that just feels productive. It’s actually not too far off from obsessive-compulsive disorder (as displayed in the show, Monk)…one feels anxiety about something like, say, germs on their hands, so they “obsess” about the germs and then “compulsively” wash their hands repeatedly to relieve the anxiety about the germs. Not that dissimilarly, an entrepreneur can fear lack of money or success from the risk-taking nature of their entrepreneurial pursuits…and then obsesses about it…and then compulsively engage in busy work to relieve the fear/anxiety.
Examples of these anxiety-relievers (busy work) include:
• Spending way too much time writing volumes and volumes of a business plan instead of getting in front of faces of investors
• Spending a lot of time making calls to unqualified leads
• Wasting more time than necessary on elaborate filing systems, detailed databases, and other minutiae (remember, the devil is in the details)
• Talking to the same people over and over again instead of meeting new people and making new leads
• Cleaning, filing, procrastinating, and other time-consuming activities that are not resulting in sales
Here’s the secret—and it’s a paradox—when you work EFFICIENTLY, you actually INCREASE your FREE TIME. Having more of that allows you to spend your time with loved ones and nurture relationships so that those relationships can then provide you with the necessary support to keep you going. It’s that simple—prioritize your time and use it efficiently and wisely. If you’re still having difficulty with fear and busy-work or you’re not getting the critical support you need, feel free to contact me for a little coaching and we’ll work on a plan of action that fits your specific needs and situation.

Stop Unconscious Prejudices from Destroying Your Relationships, Business & the World

Discrimination, racism and intolerance are a lot like holding a grudge. The grudge-holder remains steadfast in their conviction and refuses to understand another point of view or to engage in any type of connection. But what about the stealth grudge-holder? You know--the person that CLAIMS they're not upset but continues to give little jabs anyway.

Multicultural counselors have a name for stealth forms of discrimination. They call it microaggressions and it's very real and quite toxic. As you'd imagine, it's one thing when someone you love or care about is still stewing about an incident while claiming they are over it, but it's a whole other thing when your boss or Chairman of the Board is launching gestures and double-talk at you that are loaded with the equivalent annihilation power of the atomic bomb. Yet you're in a double-bind because nothing has really been said, so you can't prove the existence of the passive-aggressive poison in the room. Worse, the person responsible for such behavior is probably just as unaware. Hence, "micro"aggressions.

Numerous studies have been conducted to reveal how oblivious people are to their prejudices. Perhaps you'll recall the "Candid Camera" episode that showed a woman walking down a street with a purse on her arm as several staged teenagers walked passed her. The teenagers were culturally different but dressed in identical clothes. As you might guess (even though the woman claimed not to be "prejudiced"), the woman placed the purse on her opposite shoulder when she saw the Black and Latino teenagers approaching. Sandra Bullock does a good job portraying a similar scene in the excellent, make-you-think movie "Crash."

So, what can you do to become more aware of your own unconscious prejudices in order to stop perpetuating microaggressions? First, take a moment to really ask yourself some questions--deeply ask yourself. For instance, how do you feel about people of color, people of other religious views, people of different sexual preferences and identities? How do you feel about intermixed relationships? How can you identify with the experiences and challenges facing differing groups of people?

If you came up with some prejudices, here’s something to consider. A lot of people are talking about the law of attraction--the idea that what you believe and think will be manifested. This is the basis of the film, "The Secret." Well, if the law of attraction is real (in sports psychology it works--you visualize the goal and see yourself completing it), and it's true that many of our prejudices are unconscious (which has been validated through enormous amounts of research), wouldn't it be valuable to unlock our prejudices and change them so that we can stop manifesting in others the very behaviors we fear?

Are You TOO Honest? Two Golden Rules for Communicating with Respect

My father used to say "Honesty is the best policy." Of course he would say that as a way to elicit some confession out of me (i.e. Okay, "I" broke the glass.). He'd then couple it with one of his other favorite expressions, "The truth always comes out." These beliefs left me rather neurotic and quite confessional: "Dad, I need to let you know that I went to a party instead of the movies and I was home 15 minutes after my curfew." However, this unbridled truth-telling took a turn and slapped me in the face as I got older.

Some people would call me "direct" while others began to withdrawal. As a manager and employee and human being interacting in a world of other humans, I began to realize that there was a limitation to sharing my truth. Worse, I was inadvertently offending people and ruining my chances of adequately communicating with them if I was TOO honest. I couldn't really tell people "I can't get a word in if you keep talking" and expect them to listen to me after that. I also couldn't get frustrated and declare "Would you please speak up and say what you're thinking?!" to someone that wasn't participating in a discussion.

The reality is that people can be like other countries--we need to approach them by appreciating their differences, learning their language and their culture (personality) while enjoying our vacation (interaction) with them. Here are two golden rules for communicating appropriately with people without blowing it and telling them why you can't communicate with them.

Golden Respect Rule #1 If someone is quiet and withdrawn, give them more space and allow for longer pauses to let them articulate their thoughts. RESIST THE URGE TO SAY WHAT THEY ARE THINKING (You're most likely wrong!).

Golden Respect Rule #2 If you're communicating with a long-winded talker and you want to flee, RESIST THE URGE TO SHUT THEM UP. Instead, try to acknowledge what you've heard them say or how they feel and then you can let them know you're a bit short on time (LONG-WINDED TALKERS STOP TALKING IF THEY FELT HEARD, BUT TALK MORE OR EVEN ATTACK IF THEY FEEL BRUSHED OFF).

6 Keys to Maintaining & Repairing Relationships

Our identity and self-worth is formed by the dialogues we share in our relationship circles. People give us meaning. They reinforce our value. That's why discrimination and unhealthy relationships are so destructive to our physical, psychic & spiritual well-being. As John Donne said, "no man is an island." At the end of the day, we are responsible for how we connect to others. Our interactions with people are circular which means how someone behaves can impact our response to them which in turn impacts their response back to us, etc. It also means that we have the power (and responsibility) to break the cycle by responding differently. Here are 6 keys to maintaining and repairing relationships.

-Listen (To truly listen means that you must suspend your thoughts and responses while the other person is sharing...the amazing paradox is that REAL listening begets real listening from the other person.)

-Check your body (Sometimes our neurological memory and primal brain takes over when we feel threatened and makes our evolved brain think the target of our distress is the other person...we can control this emotional hijacking by focusing on a bodily sensation and separating the sensation from the dialogue with the other person...another paradox, but it works.)

-Respect time-outs (A general response to the physiological distress is to walk away or take a time-out...while this can create feelings of abandonment in one person, try to hang in there and self-soothe until the person is ready to rationally discuss the situation and be emotionally present.)

-Repair as soon as possible (The longer the time out, the easier it is to sweep the matter under the rug. Resist this destructive temptation! Discuss and LISTEN to each other's side, providing empathy, validation and reassurance.)

-Keep healthy boundaries (Some people are too narcissistic or psychically wounded to be emotionally available. They will never be able to provide the kind of emotional empathy needed for a healthy relationship. In these cases, love from afar. Listen when you have to and offer your empathy without turning it into a one-way relationship. Maintain a healthy distance and protect your boundaries.)

-Stay connected (Human contact and relationships are essential needs. Stay connected with people. Cherish your relationships. Open up, share and grow with people. Remember success means nothing unless you have loved ones to share it with.)

(c) 2008 Kimberly Key

Get HELP for Toxic Workplaces

As some of you know, my company, Encompass Work & Family, was born out of my continued experience with clients that are significantly impacted by their work. Think military, physicians, high-tech start-ups, etc. However, there's another person that is even more affected by their work--the person who gets bullied.

There's another word for describing abuse and harassment in the workplace that is widely understood and addressed in Europe and is just beginning to gain recognition in the United States. It is called Mobbing and is “aggression used against ‘anyone’…using harassing, abusive and often terrorizing behaviors” (from Davenport et. al.'s "Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace"). It is intentional and used to force a person out of the workplace. It happens over time and often gains momentum to the point of no return. It is dangerous for the employee and has been referred to as a “cancer” in an organization.

The five phases of Mobbing include:

1 Conflict
2 Aggressive Acts
3 Management Involvement
4 Branding as Difficult or Mentally Ill
5 Expulsion

Some specific behaviors in the five phases described by Dr. Heinz Leymann may include:

1 Impacting Self Expression and Communication (your supervisor or colleagues restrict your expression; you are constantly interrupted; you are yelled at or scolded; your work is constantly criticized; your private life is constantly criticized; you are terrorized on the phone; verbal or written threats are made)
2 Attack on One’s Social Relations (people do not speak to you anymore; you cannot speak to anyone and/or access is denied; your work space is isolated; colleagues are forbidden to talk to you; you are treated as invisible)
3 Attack on Your Reputation (people talk badly behind your back; unfounded rumors circulate; you are ridiculed; you are treated as if you’re mentally ill; you’re forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation; people imitate your walk, voice, gestures or ridicule you; your nationality is ridiculed; your decisions are always questioned; you are called demeaning names; sexual innuendo)
4 Attacks on the Quality of One’s Professional and Life Situation (there are no special tasks for you; supervisors take away assignments; you are given meaningless jobs to carry out; you are given tasks below your qualifications; you are continuously given new tasks; you are given tasks that affect your self-esteem; you are given tasks far beyond your qualifications as a way to discredit you; causing general damages that create financial costs to you; damaging your home or workplace)
5 Direct Attack on Person’s Health (you are forced to do a physically strenuous job; threats of physical violence are made; light violence is used to threaten you; physical abuse; outright sexual harassment)

Mobbing is more injurious than a physical wound because the effects are deep and can be traumatic. It also strikes all levels within an organization (top to bottom, side to side). Like a burn it has been described as having three degrees of impact:

Mobbing of the 1st degree—The person escapes with minimal impact. They are rehabilitated in the same workplace or gain employment somewhere else.

Mobbing of the 2nd degree—Person cannot leave immediately and suffers from temporary or long-term mental and physical difficulty, most often experiencing difficulties re-entering the workforce.

Mobbing of the 3rd degree—The person is impacted to the point of not being able to return to the workplace. Physical and mental injuries are beyond rehabilitation unless specialized treatment protocol is applied.

Solutions to Mobbing are multi-pronged. Laws protect people the in fifth phase of Leymann’s description, but could still improve (some states are adopting more thorough protection). The media can help promote awareness. Further research can also help with building awareness and testing treatment and prevention measures. Management, human resources and organizational consultants should have training in this area for prevention and abatement. While Employee Assistance Program (EAP) professionals are sought out during Mobbing situations, not all employers promote the same level of confidentiality, so the EAP professional may not always serve the employee’s best interest. In addition, they may perpetuate the blame on the employee by not conducting a systemic assessment or understanding the damage from Mobbing.

In closing, Davenport describes a healthy workplace where “Leaders empower, affirm and appreciate their co-workers… (and where) Employees…participate in decision-making, feel appreciated, and have a sense of belonging.”

To learn more about Mobbing, Mobbing Syndrome, Identification and Prevention, please feel free to contact me at Kimberly@EncompassWF.com. To learn a little more about depression (a common effect of Mobbing), see my blog entry from August 20, 2007.

7% of U.S. Workers have Depression, Costing $30-$44 Billion in Losses Each Year

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report has released findings that 7% of U.S. workers (aged 18-64) experienced a major depressive episode in the last year. Report estimates reveal depression in the workplace costs U.S. companies $30 to $44 billion dollars per year. In addition, the research shows that depression rates in the workplace vary by occupation. The highest rates for depressive episodes in women were found in food preparation and serving related occupations (14.8%) while the highest rates for men experiencing a depressive episode were in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (6.7%). The lowest rates of depressive episodes in both men and women were found in the life, physical, and social science occupations (2.3% for males and 7.2% for females).

The NSDUH Report is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).

When Sacrificing for Career & Children Hurts

When reading the news, I can always count on seeing a story that revisits some enduring debate. What diet is truly healthy? How much television is okay for children? Should Mom or Dad quit their jobs and stay home to raise the kids? The latest instigator to the last question is Leslie Bennetts, author of "The Feminine Mistake."

Bennetts asserts that leaving your job (regardless of gender) may hurt your career in the long run...and thus your family. One of the increasingly common scenarios she points to is when a middle-aged stay-at-home woman (or man) finds herself (or himself) divorced and suffering from decreased income potential that tends to result from a career hiatus taken to raise the kids.

What's interesting (and less discussed) is the parallel situation when a man (or woman) has dedicated his/her career to a company (sacrificing time with family, taking on health risks from chronic stress, making necessary moves for the job, etc.) and then gets laid off. A similar shock-grief-identity crisis takes place that can also impact income potential.

The reality is that men and women in both scenarios are dealing with valid dependency and identity issues that are made worse by their sacrifices. The real solution is getting congruent with one's values, having a sense of self that's outside of marriage, career and parenthood, and then making an investment of time and energy in each aspect of one's life--self, family, career, community...and spirit. My personal view is that it's a human mistake when any of these areas in our lives are sacrificed. We are role models for our children and what are we ultimately teaching them when we perpetuate the work OR family myth? It's about both work AND family (with self in tact). Perhaps more workplaces would provide better flex time if we, as a culture, embraced a commitment to work AND family AND self and stopped expecting the old paradigm of one breadwinner and one caretaker.

Want Teambuilding? Don't Bring Up Money

University of Minnesota researchers discovered link between money and behavior. Uh, okay so that seems obvious. Essentially, subjects in a series of nine experiments demonstrated more self-sufficient attitudes and behaviors when primed with words associated with money. Pictures of self-sufficient salespeople and entrepreneurs come to mind. Ah, the rugged Wild West "can do" spirit. (Remember the Wild West's connection to gold...money...get it?) Well, the flip side of all this self-sufficiency was that researchers found that participants were more willing to share, donate more money, and helped out fellow subjects more when they weren't primed with money words. So, go ahead and use money as an incentive for individual job tasks. Just don't use it when you want folks to depend on each other. You can check out the study published in Science.