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Coach's Corner--February 23, 2009

It's time to hear friom readers again.


We've had a lively discussion about "A key to controlling anger is to not let anger control you" (Dec. 7).  One reader noted that "I knew I regularly lost patience with people who didn't ask for help when they had problems or questions. What I didn't realize, until a colleague pointed it out, was that the opposite was also true: that I was very patient with people who did. This helped me to avoid some blow-ups by encouraging folks to come to me with issues sooner rather than later and also by being a bit more proactive myself."


Another noted that it's hard to change feelings directly:  "Generally speaking, feelings arise from our thoughts. Explore what thoughts are behind your anger and determine what cognitive distortions you are using, then practice replacing them with thoughts that will better serve your goals for yourself. I underline the advice about dealing with the underlying anxiety; I've never met someone with anger issues that didn't also have lots of "white noise" anxiety/stress in their life!"


Finally, one commented that "while it may be very hard to change our feelings, it is easier to recognize and change our behavior. As we learn the situations that provoke us, we might still get angry, but we can change how we react. Over time, our feelings may actually change as practicing behavior modification may actually change emotional response."


The common theme is that paying attention is the starting point; from there we can make choices about the steps we take.


Reactions also varied to the Feb. 8 column, "Going slow is about working smart, not about doing less."  One reader vouched for the recommended approach, noting that "the slight, strategic slowdown … will lead from wasted time and effort of having to clean up mistakes borne of hurrying to increased efficiency and effectiveness of one's efforts. I am convinced that most people, if they could invoke this practice, would actually be faster in terms of achieving excellent results more quickly. To say nothing of the savings of money and effort from not having to go back and fix mistakes nearly as often."


However, for another, the column didn't go far enough.  "All of us here at the International Institute of Not Doing Much (IINDM) beg to disagree that a slow lifestyle is not about doing less. In fact, one of our watchwords has been, 'Do less, slowly.' While slow is not lazy, it is about freeing up time for the fine art of noticing what is going on, of incubating ideas. If putting his feet up on the desk and staring idly out of the window of his Princeton office was good enough for Einstein, then it is good enough for us, and we respectfully suggest it is good enough for your readers. Doing less frees us up to pay attention to all those things we miss in this rushaholic world. Isn't it time to examine this blind worship of productivity?"


From my perspective, "yes" to both.  And the IINDM's tongue-in-cheek approach adds a nice light touch to a real issue.  Slowing down yields success in the current environment, while the world will be a better place once the culture changes for the slower.  However, it's not realistic for an individual employee to attempt a unilateral change in the workplace -- that's likely to lead to unemployment. That doesn't mean that it's not worth it to try -- just change the aspects you control.


A few other comments:


Some ins and outs about how to get that promotion (Nov. 16):  One reader notes, if you didn't get the promotion, go to the source (your boss) and ask!

Regarding the Jan. 18 column, "Workaholic nearly died, now wants balance," other readers have echoed the experience of having to reconfigure their lives after a medical crisis, and noted their appreciation for a supportive workplace.  Another pointed to qigong as a solution to achieve greater balance.


Comments also reflect the challenge of trying to make these changes, despite the best intentions of both employee and employer:  "In smaller organizations (at least in ours currently), there is a growing expectation that leaders also be aware of enough of the details to maintain credibility. I've noticed interesting looks at directors' meetings when one of us does not have the details."

This does pose a challenge, and puts the onus on the employee to remind others of the value of a different approach.  I'd also suggest prioritizing the areas for mastering detail.  Focus on the high-visibility, high-impact issues where having detailed knowledge could make a difference.


Several readers suggested that convicted felons ("Felon needs to ask for help in job search," Dec. 29) explore having their records expunged, which is an option for some after five years.


And, ending on a cheerful note, a reader of the Jan. 26 column ("Assess, adjust after layoff before job-hunting") reiterated the value of "taking care of yourself and having some fun."


Thanks to everyone who sends comments, suggestions, and criticism. Your feedback is always welcome.



Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted February 22, 2009
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