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Having good employees relates to an overall better business. But what makes a good employee? It is not necessarily their work ethic, but more importantly their mindset and mental health. At Engagement Techniques Consulting, we focus on a bottom-up approach to help companies grow strong and steady. Keep reading to learn more about how our business management coaching can help your business and contact us today to get started.

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Looking for a way to elevate your business and take it to the next level? Business management coaching is a great way to get help within your business so that you can reach new levels of success and improvement. At Engagement Techniques Consulting in South Carolina, we help business owners through our management coaching. As certified life coaches, we also help with mental health counseling in order to help you through the struggles you may feel through running a business. Keep reading to learn more about how our coaching can impact your business and contact us today to get started!

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In our society, we are taught that we need to be productive in order to be worth something. We believe that we have to work hard in order to be considered a contributing member.

This belief leads to some very complicated outcomes. Here's just a few:

1. Many people set high, unreachable goals for themselves regarding what they should accomplish, and then they feel like failures for not being as successful as they think they should be. This is especially true in contemporary U.S., where it was easier to achieve success in the late 20th century, and those expectations are now placed on adults in the early 21st century - but life is much more challenging now.

2. Some people are able to follow a passion and feel rewarded through pursuing it. Others are just trying to make money to feed their families and interests. However, in today's busy world where people are expected to be "on the go" and available to their corporations at all hours, they lose sense of themselves - they forget who they are and how they want to be because they are so consumed with achieving a...

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There are many benefits of one-on-one counseling. It allows the individual to receive help at a very personal level so that they can gain the tools they need to overcome whatever they are going through and live their best life ever. Engagement Techniques Counseling works with individuals on a one-on-one basis. Below, we'll take a look at four of the benefits of this type of counseling, and call for mental health counseling today.

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I've been working with some managers and employees in a small manufacturing facility lately. It's a small business with a pretty passionate CEO and some fun-loving employees. Being a smaller business, however, it's not without its challenges when it came to management consulting, and that's how I was brought in.

Research has shown us that many employees will equate their manager's ethical behavior with competence. If the manager does something shady or questionable, the employees are less likely to think that manager knows what s/he's doing.

On the other side of that coin, sometimes any employee (manager or otherwise) will engage in non-ethical behavior when their job depends on doing something that's either near-impossible, if they're burnt out, and/or if they're not getting the support that they need to accomplish what's expected of them (and I understand those are all kind of the same thing!). Additionally, a manager may fear losing face or power if they admit to wrong-doing in front of their subordinates.

So, onto the story. A manager had purchased the...

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Arianna Huffington recently tweeted,

"The Great Resignation is really a Great Re-evaluation. What people are resigning from is a culture of burnout and a broken definition of success. In quitting their jobs, people are affirming their longing for a different way of working and living."

Research is showing that a majority of the employees leaving the job force are early retirees, and we're also hearing about people who are leaving their jobs because they do not care for the Covid restrictions that business may impose on its workers. Apparently, "according to Labor Department data, and new surveys show that low-wage workers, employees of color and women outside the management ranks are those most likely to change roles." (source: Wall Street Journal)

Instead, per multiple reporting sources (do a search for "number of new businesses started since Covid), many people...

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Patterns often reveal themselves in psychological patterns, and it's funny how I frequently hear my clients independently describing matching experiences in their past weeks - even though they've never met each other or spoken to each other.

The current pattern I've heard from 5 different clients lately is the act of somehow reminiscing about one's past self and cringing. "Cringe" being that feeling you get when you're embarrassed or even mortified. They found their cringe moments in several different ways, from reviewing past journal notes, past documents or social media posts, to even just thinking about the things they did in the past.

And of course, this brings up negative feelings: "Look at how awful I used to be!" When looking back, people frequently feel like they were immature, silly, stupid, clueless, naive, or anything that makes them feel like they had less value in society. Socially and culturally, many of us have come to believe that a lack of value means that others will reject or abandon us. This is important, because acceptance and belonging...

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Like many people, I love learning about what another person's life is like. Not just how they live, but what kinds of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs do they hold? It allows us to step outside our own little bubbles for just a little bit to think about what other people go through.

Despite the negative things we say about social media, it's also allowed for us as a society to glean some genuine and heartfelt insights into others' lives. When we choose to avoid content that's focused on flashy, shallow illusions, we can find some really authentic and beautiful life-affirming content. And we can also watch cute pet videos.

I came across a TikTok video created by a young man who faced severe poverty, instability, and family dysfunction while growing up. While he's pulled himself out of his unfortunate circumstances, it's not always easy for anyone to do so. He poignantly expresses his compassion for the homeless and others in need through several videos which help illustrate their humanity, but there's a particular one which may leave anyone speechless; You can find it...

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My wonderful colleague Naaila Moumaris-Clay recently shared an article about the physiological impact of gratitude on the brain. The article can be found here: Gratitude physically changes your brain, new study says.

In a nutshell, practicing gratitude makes it easier to find things in life to feel grateful for. I realize that sounds reductionist, but the idea is that your brain creates neural pathways which make it easier to find things to appreciate, which can strongly combat anxiety and depression.

As the writer explains, "In short, practicing gratitude seems to kick off a healthful, self-perpetuating cycle in your brain -- counting your blessing now makes it easier to...

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Many of my clients have expressed a doubt in their decision-making abilities. When we've traced the origin of this belief, it often comes from different sources but it's also pretty frequently learned in youth (while the brain is still developing).

A person's self-doubt could stem from multiple things, among them:

  • a parent who was overly critical and never pleased, leaving the child to believe they could never do anything right or "good enough;"

  • a person's own failure in the past which lead them to believe they were defective;

  • growing up in a dysfunctional family where a person's decisions and preferences were never honored or respected;

  • social influences which have taught them to compare themselves to unrealistic standards;

  • or anything in this line of thinking where the person was lead to feel "not good enough."

Then this person grows up with this idea, or may even develop it in adulthood, having sprouted in their head that they don't measure...

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I was working with a client the other day who struggled to find motivation to move in the right direction. So we took a step back to try to figure out what her goals are; Goal Theory is the idea that we are most motivated to meet goals which are broken down into reachable, feasible goals, often which have an educational value or provide a sense of meaning in the work. However, she couldn't quite pin down her goals. We took another step back to uncover values.

There's empirical evidence that values are what lead to goal formation.

What are values? According to the Ethics Unwrapped blog at the University of Texas, "Values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act one way or another. They serve as a guide for human behavior."

They can be with us from birth, but they may also be shaped by the cultural and social interactions we have as we develop.

How do we figure out values? There are plenty of activities which...

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There's this video clip that I like to use with clients who like pop culture references and struggle with feelings of shame and barriers to connecting with other people.

It's from the movie "Suicide Squad," a movie about anti-heroes who are seeking the same goals as anyone else but they've learned dysfunctional, illegal, and destructive ways to reach those goals. In the movie, they are forced to save the world in order to get the metaphorical carrots that are dangled in front of them, and the movie casts doubts about the moral fortitude of the people/system that are trying to control this group of people in the first place.

Spoiler alert, in case you have not seen the movie.

El Diablo is hating himself for a past event where he was loved by his family and then he accidentally killed them all with his fire powers; Harley Quinn offers a harsh response: "OWN IT." It makes us who we are.

Other group members tell her to back off, and they offer harsh judgment for her own behavior. She brings it back to the point that we all have issues, so why judge others...

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There's a modality of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. It's been described as a combination of mindfulness and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) distilled into practical steps and practices.

One of those practices is called Radical Acceptance, and it's incredibly powerful. It's this idea that we can accept what has happened or the reality placed upon us so that we don't get swept up in feelings of how things are so unfair and uncontrollable, which can leave us to feel overwhelmed and maybe even sorry for ourselves. It's not about approving of the situation, but it's about accepting it so that we can figure out how we want to cope with it or change it.

"It is what it is." Life is a very chaotic, strange thing sometimes, and both good and bad things can happen unexpectedly. The funny thing is that we sometimes find the law of attraction coming into play here, as well as self-fulfilling prophecies. We attract what we seek, and we become what we think/say we will become.

Per Dr. Linehan, here are the 10 steps to...

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I recently came across an image of a woman named Marzieh who'd survived an acid attack; despite the obvious scarring on her face, she radiated strength and dignity. Her suffering had inspired her to raise awareness regarding the conditions which caused the attack. Many have been inspired by the power she holds in her resolution, and the comment section of the particular social media posting that I found was full of responses which recognized her as a complete person, in which her physical appearance had been transformed in the social consciousness as something to respect, admire, and love. If you'd like more information about Marzieh, you can click here.

It made me think about the other times I've talked to people about their physical scars. Many scars are from medical procedures, from which sometimes the bearer expresses feeling that it's a...

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This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

There is an abundance of evidence that when employees feel valued, they are more likely to perform better and stay with their employer. However, the act of valuing employees isn’t effective if the employer does it for the sole purpose of performance improvement and retention. That’s still the act of treating people as resources instead of people, and employees react negatively to that. When any employer or person’s communication of value is not real, people can sense it. In other words, someone has to internally hold a sense of value for another person (or people) in order for their choices, actions, and behavior to genuinely convey a sense of value that other people will “get” and appreciate.

It’s easy enough to say that people need to be treated with value, and that employee performance will improve when they feel valued. But...

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I was reminded recently about the power of trusting in the process.

We are so outcome-driven as a society these days. It makes perfect sense because results show us not only that we achieved our goal, but how *much* we've achieved it. For example, let's say a person wants to lose weight. They can set a goal for how much weight they've lost, but numbers illustrate their progress so that it's not just blind action-taking; numbers help show us what's working and not working. Or, more abstractly, an organization meant to serve the community may work towards a noble goal like feeding the underserved or providing therapeutic services to families, but we don't know how effective those efforts are unless we find ways to measure the results.

Sometimes, the goals seem simple: Whether we want to move to a different home, read a book, or bake a cake, we'll know that the goal has been accomplished once the desired outcome has been achieved. We'll be moved into the home. We'll have read the whole book. We'll have a cake.

Funnily enough, we don't think about how goals are...

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I started re-watching "The Good Place" where they presented an interesting ethical (and psychological) quandary. Spoiler alert - plot elements are discussed below, in case you want to watch it for the first time.

Basically, the main characters have to prove that people can change for the better in order to save humanity. They've been sent this really obnoxious guy who truly thinks he's better than others, and that everything he does should practically be worshipped. He presents himself as the CEO type who diminishes others in such subtle ways that he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong, much to the annoyance and disgust of everyone around him.

The main characters are stumped with how to help him understand how to improve as a person, especially because he refuses to do any kind of internal analysis of how people feel about his behavior. He would instead victimize himself and say that any complaints from others were just ridiculous comments spurred by the "PC" (political correctness) movement.

My first thought was "love them where they're at." After all,...

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We often remind each other to take "baby steps" whenever we undergo a process, such as in personal development, growing a business, or nurturing a relationship. The message in this case is that we build upon small successes, and not to beat ourselves up for not being able to take huge leaps or accomplish unrealistic goals - and trying to figure out how not to hold ourselves to unrealistic goals in the first place. These are all great points! I can't tell you how many clients (all of us, really) beat themselves up because they think they should be able to

But as a popular meme around the internet points out, babies don't always take tiny, cautious little steps. Sometimes they run full force into things, and they will travel as far as they can as soon as someone is no longer watching. They explore into the unknown. They still don't go as far or as fast as a grown adult - but for them, they have the opportunity to continue growing and exploring something new, with or without the support that they need. Sure, those steps look tiny, but they're a foray into a whole new world....

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A friend of mine felt ill on the day after her holiday celebration and the telehealth doctor had strongly recommended for her to go to an urgent care clinic for more appropriate testing. In her area, the urgent care clinics were either insanely busy or were taking no more walk-ins due to the overwhelming number of appointments they'd already made. Multiple clinics were short-staffed due to the medical professional shortage as well. Thankfully, she was able to seek care the next day.

It made me think of how common it is for us to push ourselves through a difficult situation, especially when we need to stay strong and keep going, only to feel like we crash and burn once the situation is over. Once we have the chance to rest and our survival hormones/chemicals/processes are depleted, our bodies tell us to REST. With so many of my clients crashing after a stressful event, they often think there's something wrong with them.

It makes sense that the holiday season this year has been so stressful after all the insanity that Covid has brought. While I hope that you had a...

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I recently came across an image of a woman named Marzieh who'd survived an acid attack; despite the obvious scarring on her face, she radiated strength and dignity. Her suffering had inspired her to raise awareness regarding the conditions which caused the attack. Many have been inspired by the power she holds in her resolution, and the comment section of the particular social media posting that I found was full of responses which recognized her as a complete person, in which her physical appearance had been transformed in the social consciousness as something to respect, admire, and love. If you'd like more information about Marzieh, you can click here.

It made me think about the other times I've talked to people about their physical scars. Many scars are from medical procedures, from which sometimes the bearer expresses feeling that it's a...

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I came across this image today and it reminded me of how listening can solve problems better than simply demanding.

In a nutshell, if you listen to someone else's problem, you can help them understand how to fix it or how they should behave moving forward. If you don't listen, and simply make demands or even try to intimidate others into submission, they'll just hide the problem from you. They'll very likely take unethical or manipulative steps to do whatever they need to do because, after all, they've learned they can't trust you with information.

Even though the image applies to kids, it's so applicable for adults - especially in the workplace. (Hint: Adults are basically kids in bigger bodies, just with a few brain changes)

I used to perform investigations into kids' accounts of abuse and neglect, so I'll answer the question I heard so commonly back then: What if they're lying?

The truth is that people are trying to communicate something, even when they're lying. Go along with the lie long enough and you'll figure out what that is...

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Almost everyone has heard that they're supposed to "feel your feelings." It automatically sounds silly and possibly even non-sensical. However, this saying is rooted in effective wellness practices.

The intent is twofold: First, to acknowledge your feelings. They're natural and there's a reason you have them. You may not like them and they may not even be helping you, but trying to ignore them or repress them won't let you get rid of them. Beating yourself up for feeling this way is just going to make it worse. Instead, allowing yourself to recognize how you feel - without judgment - is a great way to understand what you're really experiencing and to figure out a better way to think and feel about it.

Here's one of my favorite articles on HOW to do that: Feeling Overwhelmed? Remember RAIN

Second, our emotions often show up physiologically in our bodies. This is called a somatic response. It's like when your...

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I'm taking a mental health day today. After experiencing several deaths of loved ones over the past year and the strains of growing two businesses, this past holiday was an overwhelming experience. I woke up this morning feeling like the little engine that just couldn't.

Don't get me wrong. My holiday was lovely and I recognize what a fortunate, privileged person I am for what I have, what I've been given, and the opportunities that have come my way. However, it's normal to sometimes just feel overwhelmed by life, especially when there are things out of our control and we are dealing with some circumstances which leave our hearts feeling heavy and our brains feeling blunted. Our emotions may be raging, whether we really feel them or not, and overall we may just feel numb. I frequently refer to this as a case of "ick." As in describing just how "icky" one feels.

I had a project today that wasn't urgent. I thought about pushing myself to get out there and do it, but I know that self-care is vital to being able to keep doing well. Our productivity, quality, and...

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I always cringe when I first introduce the concept of mindfulness to a client.

Why? It's become so trendy and popular, delivered in convenient apps and thrown about casually in wellness-related conversations that we often miss the finer points of *how* to use it.

Clients will frequently tell me that they have tried meditation or deep-breathing exercises, but nothing seems to resonate. (Also- mindfulness can be so much more than meditation and breathing, but that's for another article!)

Jamie Gruman, PhD, recently wrote a fantastic Psychology Today article about how people misunderstand mindfulness. In it, he wrote,

"Mindfulness is often thought of as a form of consciousness that allows people to become aware of the contents of their minds and accept those contents...

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I began offering mental health therapy through telehealth means several months ago. Compared to the traditional office setting, it's been an interesting journey!

We know there are drawbacks to any telehealth setting. We lose many forms of communication when we're not seeing each other in person, and that is especially important in any setting relevant to our physical and mental health. Mental health counselors frequently pay attention to posture, tone of voice, facial expressions, and other "tells" as a way to help understand clients better. While we can see much of that in video sessions, it's not as easy to read the whole person. In addition to that, having that "energy" between two people in an in-person session can be a powerful thing.

However, telehealth has also offered several benefits! First, it helps meet clients where they are at. Sometimes, clients prefer phone calls, chat sessions, or even back-and-forth texting over traditional face-to-face sessions. While this makes it more difficult to read the person, it's such a great way to bring therapy to people...

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This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

It can be mind-blowing, then, to consider the idea that every perception has validity. In other words, everyone has the right to their perception and for it to be recognized as their reality. It does not mean that their perception is always healthy or best for them or the people around them, but it’s their perception. No other person can magically change it in an instant. To quote Miller’s Law, “To understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.”

Let’s also throw contextual constructionism into the discussion – it’s the idea that we all experience reality differently, and knowledge is dynamic based on our changing circumstances. So we all experience life differently, and while our knowledge is always changing and hopefully growing, we’re each going to see...

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A workers worth book cover

This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

A value is something that we think is important. Our sense of value, and what we value, deeply drives our behavior. The value we place in an idea or person is what motivates us and drives us towards specific goals framed around those values.

We love some of the people in our lives and value them based on our ideas of what those relationships should look like. There are so many examples of what that could look like for every single, individual person. For example, some parents may feel as though parenting means giving their young an amount of freedom to forge their own lives and endure their own hardships, while others feel as though it’s their duty to hover over their children and have an input on every decision in their lives. Many parents may find themselves in a balance of those two extremes. A person in a romantic...

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A workers worth book cover

This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

There are plenty of competing views about the value of a person. From a broad perspective, many would agree that all human life has value. Some would take that a step further to argue that all people are deserving of dignity. In contrast, there are others who would argue that someone’s worth should be based on their merit, and the definition of merit could be viewed broadly as anything from how much they contribute to society to how well-liked they are. This matter has often been attended to from a philosophical and psychological standpoint, with the results manifesting dramatically across history. Typically, we give worth to anyone and anything for which we hold an emotional attachment, especially if that person or thing represents our internal values.

The part about emotional attachment may sound inaccurate, but it happens...

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A workers worth book cover

This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

Comfort is an incredibly relative concept. For many billionaires, the money they have isn’t enough. Yet, there have been people living in huts that have dirt floors who can be happy and satisfied with life. Our egos may demand that people treat us a certain way, whereas wisdom teaches us that the way others treat us is merely a reflection of that person’s inner workings. That wisdom isn’t applied in many organizations, where people feel the need to compete for any scrap of power or step on each other for attention and “respect.” It’s a big game.

Thankfully, contemporary research findings have shown evidence that it is the servant leader or the democratic, approachable, transformational leader that frequently inspires the best performance and organizational engagement from followers. While different types of companies and...

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A workers worth book cover

This is an excerpt from my book, A Worker's Worth, available here.

Too often, we refuse to believe or disbelieve something just because of our own personal experience. Remember that there are plenty of life experiences out there which are dramatically different from our own.

In the end, do your own research. This goes beyond agreeing with someone because you like what you’re hearing. That’s your bias, and it will cause you to believe only what you want to believe. Listen to different points of view and consider the truth in each perspective, and how it could be true to each person. Most importantly, read the research evidence for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Reading research critically can be tricky for anyone who’s not trained in research methodology. Quantitative research, using numbers and statistics, is often seen as a way to figure out objective reality. Qualitative...

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This sounds obvious, right? There are things we don’t know, and sometimes other people automatically expect us to know them. “Common sense” can teach us some things, but it’s not a powerful guide. Yet we often complain about others doing things that we wish they wouldn’t do.

When I was a kid, I had no understanding of the value that other people placed on their automobiles. My family had farm trucks or a van that was allowed to be somewhat dirty because it hauled around children and animals. I never saw my parents show value for their vehicles as anything other than tools. So when I would get out of the car at parking lots, I would not care if my door dinged another vehicle. They were just tools to me. At a young age, I paid so little attention to vehicles that I could barely even tell makes and models apart – all I saw were colors and sizes. As I got older, a friend of mine described his dream car – the color, make and model. It suddenly occurred to me that some people care about the worth and appearance of their vehicles; after that, I made sure not to ding any more...

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When someone comes to us with negative behavior, often they are expecting negative, escalating behavior in turn from us. Some may even thrive on it, as that’s what they’ve known – it’s a common way to operate in this world. We can change that dynamic by not responding with escalating behavior. Often, people behave based on how they expect others to behave – so if you don’t return their behavior with that escalation, it frequently changes the way they behave to you. You don’t have to coddle them or give them the chance to harm you. You don’t have to put up with bad behavior. But you can respond with compassion and firmness instead of reverting to be another hurt and helpless animal. Additionally, if you get the opportunity to help them see that you are someone they can trust and like, they will potentially listen to your messages more easily over time and with effort.

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There’s a saying – “No one makes you angry. You decided to use anger as a response.” This thought aligns with what Viktor Frankl wrote about in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. In this book, he wrote of his experience surviving a concentration camp and how it brought him to the realization that while we cannot always directly control the things happening around us or to us, we can control or at least manage the way that we respond to these events.

Our management of our emotions gets a little tricky when we also pay attention to how diet, personal development, hormones, stress, and trauma can deter our ability to respond as our optimal selves.

Additionally, we have to consider the goals that people wish to achieve when they choose their behavior. If a person is on a lower stage of development where they are just seeking to survive, their response is going to be oriented with trying to feed themselves, have shelter, feel safe, maintain healthiness, and feel a sense of belonging (per Maslow’s Hierarchy). If a person doesn’t need to worry about their survival...

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Recently, a married couple whom I know fell on hard times and turned to Facebook to ask for assistance. My first thought was, "What did they do to put themselves in that position?"

Immediately, I realized what a cruel thought that was. I know that these two individuals are kind, hard-working folks who've never had it easy in life. They don't come from money and they have physical factors working against them in terms of appearance and mobility. I would not be surprised if they didn't come from a world where someone lovingly explained the way the world works to them, but perhaps had to figure out a lot of things on their own.

Too often, we express shock or disgust at others' behaviors or life outcomes, but we forget to ask "why?" Most of the time, it's because no one ever taught them to behave differently. In fact, a lot of negative behaviors are formed as a survival mechanism.

I certainly remember doing some destructive things as a kid because I was being a kid, and I was able to chance when someone pointed out to me that my behavior was inconsiderate. If they...

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Cultural competency starts within you. Within all of us.

What is cultural competency? The ability to navigate through cultural issues where we are all different. True cultural competency is an illusion - we will never truly become fully culturally competent. We can only try. We can work on our internal views to understand how to best treat others with respect and dignity.

And if others fail in acting with respect and dignity, we can help show them the way through education and gentle redirection. Everyone wants to save face, so no one likes to be embarrassed about being corrected for something they may not know. Teaching others compassionately is often much more effective than shaming or alienating them. And if they still continue to act poorly? The social consequences are on them after that.

Never forget the past history, especially with how it's influenced the way the world is now. There are some things we'll never see or understand because of whatever bubble we may live in, or how our own experiences shape the way to view things. However, it's always...

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I've heard CEOs and business leaders say that no special effort should be made to help employees do well. "They work to work and get a paycheck."

It's difficult to help them understand that yes, this is true and we shouldn't coddle someone beyond appropriate professional expectations and boundaries - but people do need some consideration in the workplace so that they feel valued. If they feel like a "cog in the wheel," as the employees of these CEOs and leaders would grumble, their productivity and performance are going to suffer.

I've seen employees who "work to work" and struggle under impossible expectations and harsh responses from management. It's no surprise that these employees become burnt out and struggle with doing their jobs or responding well to management.

When employees feel valued, like their employer appreciates them and is looking out for them, their productivity and performance rises. You can place any realistic demand on these employees and if they are properly motivated, they're likely to go above and beyond for you. Yes, there will be some...

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In order to survive and thrive as a species, we must act as anthropologists towards one another and suspend our disbelief about the world view that anyone holds. Or to paraphrase Miller’s Law, we must imagine that what they are saying is true and then figure out how that truth plays out for that person. We must take their experiences seriously and indulge ourselves in empathy. Our experiences are all going to be different, and by understanding the experience of a person – who they are and how they learned to be who they are – we can reframe the experience into something that fits into a whole-world puzzle. A whole-world puzzle is how all these different clashing ideals and beliefs can fit together harmoniously.

Imagine that these different world views are laying on top of each other like sheets of transparent film with all manner of colors, writing, and illustrations on them. A light shines from underneath them. They continuously shift, and the content of the sheets change color, words, and pictures. That’s humanity. That’s our whole-world puzzle. We just have to figure out...

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Interesting. We are biologically hard-wired to get angry at people who don't serve our interests, basically. But we can learn to understand their behavior and better manage our own emotions that way. Thoughts?

(From Robert Sapolsky's book Behave)

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I know, it sounds cliche. I'm trying to think of other ways to explain this idea, though. Other words or metaphors, perhaps.

I was at the store today - it was one of the less trendy stores that focuses more on community than prices. It's not pretentious, and I like that.

I was veering my cart into the water aisle and a guy stocking the shelves offered to move his giant cart of supplies. I shook my head and let him know that I could easily maneuver around him.

Somehow, this started a conversation. We briefly talked about recent cultural event and he complimented me on my belt buckle. He helped me figure out the best price and then loaded up my cart with the heavy-ish packs of water that I wanted.

I thanked him and his response was, "Well, you're nice!" I have confidence this guy would have been nice to me anyway, but showing him that I wanted to be nice to him and treat him with kindness brought him into my sphere of influence.

And my sphere of influence is not something I would use to manipulate others. I use it to bring others in, and to become...

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I was working in the hot South Carolina sun at a used car dealership. Despite my high level of education and experience, I was repairing upholstery for a sweet Armenian couple who owned a European car lot. As I labored on an exquisitely damaged seat, I heard a car pull up nearby with the radio blasting. A girl was softly singing along. I smiled at her, and she began to sing louder, and louder, until she was shouting the lyrics that she was feeling.

It’s amazing how soft gestures of love can empower us to be raw and untamed in our authenticity. Like that seat, we are exquisitely damaged beings. Our free will allows us to determine what to do with how that damage shapes us – and what amazing, deep free will it is! Do we even realize how much free will we have?

We may be burdened with life circumstances, biology, and emotions which make us feel like we are forced to go certain ways. That’s understandable. But eventually, we can shape ourselves into what we want to be. And there’s no end to that, because we are always changing. This world isn’t as real as we are, and we...

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Sometimes, we need to do things that have a powerful impact on the people in our organization - maybe it's an event or process surrounding numbers, symbolism, or a celebration that helps employees understand what they're striving for and to help them earn a sense of something to strive for. This type of thing can be a powerful motivator in the workplace.

It's also possible that we should be careful not to let these events separate us from the people we are trying to serve. Internal focus is definitely not a bad thing! But if we are so internally focused on what we do, it can separate us from true goals related to serving the customer and the community.

This is difficult to do because of logistical reasons, but including the external stakeholders in our growth can be a powerful way to connect with the people we are striving for. Not only does it communicate what we are trying to do, but it offers them a voice and includes them in the growth process. It shows value for the customer and community.

In other words, we can find ways to invite our customers and...

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Dr. Sharie Stines wrote a fascinating article about scapegoating in the workplace. You can find it here: https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2020/06/creating-scapegoats-in-the-workplace/

Dr. Stines does a great job of explaining how scapegoating occurs and why it often occurs. In a nutshell, it often happens in an unhealthy work environment where someone who wants feelings of power or status will target someone they can't control. You will probably find a lot of similarities to childhood bullies here, but there's a much more adult element to it as well.

It's a great read! My favorite statement in this article is "Dysfunctional leaders often have huge egos to massage. Victims of workplace scapegoating are frequently unwilling to massage anyone’s ego; and, honestly, are usually oblivious to the need for catering to someone in that manner."

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Celeste Headlee offered a fantastic TEDTalk on "10 ways to have a better conversation."

But honestly, her commentary went beyond how to have a better conversation. She pointed out that with the increasing polarization of ideas that we are experiencing, we have become even poorer conversationalists due to our lack of listening and trying to understand what other people are saying. This especially includes other people who do not share the same beliefs or ideas that we do.

When we refuse to listen to others, we continue the polarization and find no agreement. We divide ourselves from others who also want good, but have different ideas of what that looks like. Without being able to come to a consensus, and instead by alienating anyone who thinks differently, we can't solve the problems that plague us.

Give this clip a...

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There is research that indicates that people are often motivated to be kind! The Ohio State News journalist Laura Arenschield reported on the work of professor David Melamed and colleagues.

The study was based off the assumption that there were four motivators of kindness:

  1. A person wants to do something kind for someone who already did something nice for them.

  2. A person saw another be generous and it caused them to want to be nice to that person who showed generosity.

  3. A person is likely to show kindness around people who are part of their network and would thus be likely to reward their generosity.

  4. A person would "pay it forward" if someone did something kind for them.

In a nutshell, the research showed that these four motivators don't cancel each other out when there is more than one in a given situation....

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The concept of privilege is often a very touchy and contentious topic. Many people don't understand it, but it impacts us both personally and in the workplace.

There are many who are confused by the notion of privilege. They may have had a tough life and don't understand how their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or any other dominant cultural trait for their area has given them better life experiences than those who don't have those traits.

The discussion on privilege has currently come into the spotlight again from the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, whose life was taken basically because he was a black man running down the street. This is an excellent example of privilege: There are those who don't have to be afraid for their lives when they walk down the street.

I once had my own privilege stare me down a few years ago: While driving on the highway, my car was hit from behind by a vehicle driven from a young black man. I'll call him "Edward" for the sake of this story. Thankfully, neither of us were harmed and the damage was minimal.

Both of us were...

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Here's a really great example of how a leader did what he felt was right for those who followed him, despite the consequences - and how it amassed fantastic support and loyalty from his followers. Captain Brett Crozier looked out for his crew, causing them to follow his lead with enthusiasm. After all, he caused them to feel valued!

Read the article here: https://www.businessinsider.com/sailors-send-off-fired-carrier-captain-with-cheers-and-applause-2020-4

#leadership...

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As I'm writing about treating employees with dignity and respect, I realize that a lot of managers, supervisors, and other leaders may feel as though the element of manipulation from employees may be left out of these kinds of conversations. In our society, we're seen as weak if we allow people to manipulate us, and yes - some employees do use manipulation as a tactic. Any leader is also not immune to the use of manipulation, but the leader is expected to shut down any manipulation coming from employees. This can be especially difficult to do when we're not sure what is manipulation and what is not manipulation.

Why do people manipulate others? They're trying to have their needs met and they've learned that direct or honest methods don't work. Sometimes those needs are understandable.... like if an employee just needs a day off to rest after stressful encounters, but they fear that saying "I just need a day to chill" will make them sound lazy. They might lie and say that they have an illness or emergency in this case. However, there are other people who will use...

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Have you ever heard this phrase uttered by leadership before?

I have, and I cringe every time I hear it.

According to wordhistories.com, "This phrase alludes to the method of tempting a donkey to move forward by dangling a carrot before it, and beating it with a stick if it refuses."

So this phrase basically puts people on the same level as animals - denoting that they can be owned and motivated with food and punishment. It also denotes that they have the same simple needs as animals. (Hey fellow animal lovers - I know we can argue that animals are more complicated than that and should be treated better, but I'm looking at this from the context of how people have historically treated animals as "lesser" beings and as property.)

It's a scary phrase because it insinuates that people are property and are less intelligent than their leaders. Employees may not see the big picture that...

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I've been inspired to write about Self-Determination Theory (SDT), which is a great theory about how we experience motivation. It has a lot of intricacies, so this will just be a brief overview.

The work started with Edward Deci in 1971 and has grown with the important contributions of other scholars like Richard Ryan.

Basically, the theory drives the idea that intrinsic motivation is the strongest form of motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the drive to seek satisfaction, which often comes from personal growth and having needs met. These needs are: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy is the freedom to have a sense of being able to do what you want to do and feel like you should be able to do; Competence is that sense of self-efficacy where you feel good about what you DO and the desire to continue to improve; and relatedness is all about having positive relationships and a sense of belonging with others.

This theory basically breaks motivation down into 2 types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. While intrinsic refers to the type of...

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Walt Whitman said this.

It's a great reminder of how to approach other people who think differently than we do.

Rather than react with our typical (and natural) need to correct other people whom we think are wrong, we can try to figure out what they're thinking and why they're thinking that.

It doesn't mean that we have to change our way of thinking, but it improves the way that we can see something. Even if the other person offers a perspective that we disagree with, at least we can come to understand what caused them to have that viewpoint.

As an interesting example, one friend posted a message on Facebook promoting Bernie Sanders. Another friend, a retired marine and police officer, spat that anyone who votes for Bernie loses his friendship because this person sees it as an affront to the military.

The first friend was pro-Bernie because they believed in the idealistic messages about helping people with living and healthcare needs, not because they were anti-military. However, the second person took this personally - he's put his life on the...

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We're frequently expected to keep our personal matters from interfering with our professional lives. That makes sense when we don't want our organizational leadership to know about our private battles or when our personal information is completely irrelevant to the professional tasks at hand.

The truth is, our personal matters will always be related to our work performance. Depression and anxiety not only change the types of decisions that we make, but it changes the way our brains work.

In an ideal world, leadership would have the Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.) to understand how these factors drive employees, rather than see these factors as threats to their business. For example, I knew a young woman who lost her father while working on an important workplace project. She juggled the project and her family needs as best as possible, but ended up submitting the completed product just after the deadline. This late submission caused the company to lose the funding it was competing for - and this young lady was blamed. The leadership knew she lost her father but...

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heard a story recently of a manager who struggled with his employees following orders. They would often perform tasks in unsafe ways and then argue with him when he corrected them. In many businesses, especially his, following protocols is incredibly important because they promote SAFETY. So why would someone want to do something foolish enough to risk their safety?

Some might say that the most obvious answer might be that the workers just want to do something quickly. Poor leadership would describe them as "lazy." Maybe they just don't care. So, we have to ask: Why don't they care?

When the organization doesn't cause employees to feel valued, employees won't value their organization. That means they won't put the work and focus into the company that they are expected to. They won't believe or care about safety warnings - they may even feel so burnt-out from the stress of working in a toxic culture that they want to rush through their day just to get away.

In fact, when a manager confronts this type of stressed-out, undervalued-feeling worker, that employee's...

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I've recently learned of this phenomenon plaguing manufacturing companies where a worker will leave a company shortly after receiving a few paychecks. Leadership often calls it being "paycheck rich" where they believe the employees are leaving because they (the employees) now have some money and don't foresee the need to keep working in the immediate future.

That's a pretty derogatory term. It implies that the workers are shortsighted to the point that they don't see the need to maintain a job, and that they're lazy enough to leave as soon as they have enough money. When leadership labels their employees in such a negative way, it's no wonder that front line employees in these types of companies also frequently report that their leadership treats them so poorly that they leave as soon as they get paid.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leadership sees their employees in a poor light and thus treats them poorly, forcing the employees to leave. The employees aren't running away because they're "paycheck rich," they're running away from bad management. And then...

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I had a fantastic training session with a small company yesterday! The topic was Employee Engagement. The manager was committed to ethical and responsible action from his employees in a financial market where customers could easily be set up to fail. However, he also wanted to support his employees to do well. High Expectations and High Support make for a great environment!

The employees were a breath of fresh air - they knew what it was like when a client was set up to fail, and they found purpose in improving the quality of life for their customers. Even though they had the potential to make good money (and don't we all want that?), we had a great discussion about how their own personal development brings out a sense of integrity and compassion for them. They really want to help their clients! Customers can see this integrity and compassion in them, which makes for a powerful sales force.

I am really looking forward to interacting more with these superstars!

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This Gallup article says it all! Want to know why employee engagement is so important? Or how to implement it? Check this out!

Gallup Article on Employee Engagement

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Psychometric assessments are tools which are used to better understand a person's skill set, personality style, work style, or any other number of abilities. Sometimes these assessments are used to gauge if a person is improving in a particular area (such as with mental health assessments), or other times they're a one-time thing that can give employers some clues about whether or not a person will be a good fit in their organization.

When these types of assessments are often carefully constructed by psychologists to be as truthful as possible, there are some caveats! None of these types of tests are ever 100% accurate, but they can give us an idea of what a person can do. We still must use them very carefully to understand how they might not always truly reflect how a person might act in a given environment or situation.

For example, I once saw a manager twist the words from this kind of test to advocate for the candidate she wanted to hire, even though there were warnings that this candidate might be a poorer fit than the other candidates. So we have to be careful...

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Have you ever been accused of being negative in the workplace? Sometimes it's true. Other times, it's the sign of a toxic leader trying to keep you silenced.

Putting on a pleasant appearance in the workplace does help employees get ahead. However, employees also shouldn't be punished for offering constructive feedback and trying to point out problems that need to be solved (many of which an employee often has no control over).

Here's a great article to help you assess if you're negative in the workplace.

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Organizational Justice occurs with: Fair Rewards; Everyone Being Heard; Ethical Practices; and Things Done Best.

Organizational justice occurs when we feel as though things have been "right" in our organization, for the good of as many people as possible. It's a powerful motivating force, and we can lose our morale when we feel like something is done that is unfair or unjust. Even worse, the perception of unfairness makes supervisors, managers, and leaders appear incompetent, lazy, or like they just don't care about their employees.

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Research is showing that a majority of the employees leaving the job force are early retirees, and we're also hearing about people who are leaving their jobs because they do not care for the Covid restrictions that business may impose on its workers. Apparently, "according to Labor Department data, and new surveys show that low-wage workers, employees of color and women outside the management ranks are those most likely to change roles." (source: Wall Street Journal)

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I was reminded recently about the power of trusting in the process.

We are so outcome-driven as a society these days. It makes perfect sense because results show us not only that we achieved our goal, but how *much* we've achieved it. For example, let's say a person wants to lose weight.

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Death is a normal and yet mysterious event which we watch others experience. It's often a pretty obvious things to grieve when we lose a loved one from this world that we share.

But what about grief for loss that isn't associated with death? We often don't talk about that as often.

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What can we do for you or your business? We're all about helping employees do well in the workplace! We use a person-centered approach that advocates for the wellness of both the workers and the company culture.

Schedule a FREE, NO OBLIGATION consultation chat today!

What can ETC do for you?

Business Owners and Leaders:

• Coach you on how to get the best out of your employees and understand their needs

• Investigate/ Evaluate what’s going on in your company that’s causing employee problems (and how to fix those problems!) • Build your team(s) so that they are in sync

• Train your leaders/employees on valuable skills like communication, collaboration, and professional development

Anyone:

• Coach you on how to do well in the workplace or life in general (including coping with problems)

• Training on valuable skills like communication, collaboration, and professional development

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So, I know that this is a business blog, but there are a LOT of techniques we can take from therapy to use in the workplace! Here are some examples:

Reality Therapy: Help someone get to their goal! Ask what they are trying to accomplish, what they are trying to do to get there, if that strategy is working, and what strategy/strategies could work better or help them continue to get to their goal.

Group Therapy: When in a meeting, sometimes employees ask questions that a facilitator or leader doesn't always have to answer. You can open up the floor to allow other people to chime in on their thoughts/feelings about the answer.

Family Dynamics: Even though some companies don't have tight knit relationships, you can pay attention to the way that relationships between employees can impact their behavior. One employee may be more helpful to someone they have a better bond with over another employee who seems cold and distant. If two employees struggle with one another, they may choose some less-than-desirable behaviors to navigate around each other.

More...

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Ever heard of the concept of Human Quality Treatment (HQT)? While companies often monitor the quality of their products and services, how many monitor the quality of their employee treatment?

HQT can be defined as:

“Dealing with persons in a way appropriate to the human condition, which entails acting with respect for their human dignity and rights, caring for their problems and legitimate interests, and fostering their personal development” (Domènec Melé , 2014, Journal of Business Ethics)

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Daniel Robinson has written a poignant article for Psychology Today about another perspective on the phenomenon identified as Millennial Burnout.

Millennials: Generation of Burnouts Or Marathon Runners?

How can we be victims of these technologies if we're the ones creating them?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sanity-over-success/201902/millennials-generation-burnouts-or-marathon-runners#_=_

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Check out my research highlighted at the Think2Perform Institute!

https://www.t2pri.org/research-fellows-projects/eve-tracy-coker/

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Everything comes down to the relationships we have with each other, whether in families, in business, in school, or in the community. Our relationships with others often determines our moral and ethical decisions, and it shapes how we interpret communication. Research has shown that relationships are a major part of our mental health, especially for children as they develop.

If someone delivers a message to us and we do not respect or appreciate them, we are less likely to receive the communication well. If it comes from someone whom we admire, trust, or appreciate, we are more likely to consider the value of the message and incorporate it into how we see the world and think about things.

We won't always do this, though. There may be times when someone we like will tell us something that we don't take seriously, or we may even dislike the message. But because we appreciate the source, this message can take root and grow over time. Conversely, someone we dislike may say something we agree with- maybe that will help us improve our relationship with that person, or maybe...

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The enemy is not a person; it is hate, which resides within each person to varying degrees. We must not fight other people, but the hate within them. We can do so with kindness; it breaks up the patterns of behavior that people have come to expect.

When someone upsets us, it is ideal not to focus on their behavior, but to focus on how we can continue to better ourselves in our interactions with them.

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Remember:

- make choices to do no harm and you don't need to worry about the consequences. If there are consequences, you can be proud of your behavior and standing up for your values.

- enjoy being kind to others. Focus on that. So many people forget how this gives them a sense of meaning. Your path will unwind from there.

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Have you ever heard of Miller's Law?

"Listen to people as if what they are saying is true. If it is not, realize they are still trying to tell you something."

There's so much we could pull out of this saying, but I'll keep it brief.

First, it's saying that it's important to validate what someone is saying because it's true to them! It doesn't mean that it may be true, but by listening to the other person and trying to understand what they are saying, you are showing them that you value them. This gives us the ability to reframe our own perspective. The other person, feeling valued, will trust you and be more likely to listen to your own point of view. If they're not - keep trying!

Last, it means that they're trying to tell you SOMETHING. It may be in the subtext of what they are actually saying. One of my favorite examples is when I worked at a lock-down facility for troubled teens. A young woman kept complaining about abuse that wasn't true, and it irked a lot of the staff who were trying to care for her. However, it turned out that some of her needs...

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People make goals and determine what is worth doing and what is not worth doing based on their own needs. Their personalities and world views may influence their behavior, but people also come with expectations for what they think should happen.

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My article on the experience of meaning in work for millennials has been published in the Think2Perform Research Institute Insights Journal. Check it out!

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