Monthly Archives: November 2007

blog conversation: leaving bad work experiences behind

as you probably know by now, jacob from the job mob and i are having a blog conversation about recovering from bad work experiences. in his latest post about the topic, jacob points out, quite rightfully, that one of the reasons why we end up in bad work situations is because we didn’t ask the right questions in the job interview. or maybe we asked them and got a bad vibe to begin with and didn’t pay attention.

and again it’s the same as with other bad relationships – we often get a funny feeling right away but for some reason, we don’t take our gut reactions seriously and instead of getting the hell out of dodge, we willingly (if often unconsciously) line up for maltreatment.

this dovetails well with what i was going to talk about today. in my last post about this, i suggested that the first three steps in dealing with a bad work situation are resigning, recovering and looking at your resources. let’s talk about the next step today: research.

one of the things to contemplate in the resource phase is your set of values. the next step is to find out what companies share these values. how do you find this out? a good place to start are your local business news. here in vancouver we have a great newspaper, business in vancouver, that is a veritable treasure trove of information.

of course you can also google the topic, and you’ll come up with something like this. as you browse through this information, watch out for information about company practices that are in line with your values. e.g., if you need work-life balance, look for companies that talk about that, too, or offer on-site daycare, flex-time, etc.

the next step is information interviews. select a few companies that seem to have values similar to yours and set up a visit with them for 15 minutes or so. ask them a few questions about their practices. naturally, you don’t want to grill them. “so tell me, exactly how many people of colour are working for you right now, and how come you don’t have more?” wouldn’t go over too well.

however, if you asked, “what would you say are your top priorities in human resources?” you’d have an opener, and the conversation could then lead to a question like, “and how do you think diversity in the workplace fits into all this?”

after just a few hours of scouring through information and three or four information interviews, you’ll be amazed what you can find out.

i’m looking forward to jacob’s thoughts on this.

thanks, violeta

the other day, i came across pensieve, who is challenging the blogosphere to come up with a thanksgiving limerick.

since i’ve been digging back into my chilean songs lately, i came up with this harebrained idea of trying to turn violeta parra’s gracias a la vida into a limerick. it doesn’t do justice to violeta’s beautiful poem and music – but it was a great opportunity to look more deeply into violeta parra’s art. maybe i’ll write a post about her one day – the story of her struggles with mental illness, her creativity and her social activism certainly fits well into this blog.

so, pensieve, here’s my thanksgiving limerick:

life, thank you, you’ve given me so much:
stars, mountains, words, legs, eyes and love.
a heart full of joy
and room, too, for sorrow,
and a song to share with my brothers.

for a link to mercedes sosa singing this song, the spanish lyrics and a translation into the english, visit mikkelina.

body image research

today you will find me over at brainblogger, with an article on body image research.

here is a short excerpt:

great apes use mirrors to groom themselves, pick food out of their teeth and make faces at themselves for entertainment. but do they also use mirrors to criticize themselves?

female dissatisfaction with appearance and poor body-image begin at a very early age. human infants begin to recognise themselves in mirrors at about 2 years of age. girls can start disliking what they see only a few years later. in one us survey, 81% of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once.

black women with high self-esteem and a strong sense of racial identity rated themselves more attractive than pictures of supposedly ‘beautiful’ caucasian fashion models.

robert dziekanski’s death: excessive force or excited delirium?

police officer mo cho used to hope paramedics arrived at some scenes before he did.

those were the “M-1s,” the calls involving mentally ill people.

“i had no idea what to do,” cho said.

that’s the beginning of an article by deedee correlltraining helps cops deal with mentally ill“.

did the RCMP at vancouver airport have that training when they shot robert dziekanski? it’s hard to imagine. according to the video, they never engaged with him, never tried to talk him down.

the idea to train police in this area came out of memphis in 1988 after police fatally shot a mentally ill young man.

according to the article, police there are learning not to go into such an emergency situation with a confrontational attitude. “they’re already in that state,” says one of the officers. “you have to bring yourself down to their level, as opposed to being badge-heavy. you talk to them, let them know everything will be ok, instead of saying, ‘obey what i have to say!’ ”

traditionally, police first order a person to comply. when that does not happen, more force is used. that’s exactly what happened in the dziekanski case.

however, that approach has been found to be counterproductive when dealing with people who are mentally ill. it does not appear that robert dziekanski had a diagnosis of mental illness. however, the thought that a mental illness was involved must have crossed someone’s mind, and it is impossible to understand why the officers did not first attempt to deal with him in a calm manner.

he didn’t speak english? so what. you can’t tell me that a) police don’t receive training in non-verbal communication and b) in a highly multicultural city like vancouver, police don’t know how to interact with someone who doesn’t speak english.

the autopsy hasn’t revealed anything conclusive. now the idea of “excited delirium syndrome” as a cause of death is being bandied about. whether that’s a useful train of thought to follow seems to be questionable.

in case you’re interested, here are some links to this supposed syndrome.

this document is a grand jury report in miami on the use of tasers, including a lengthy report on excited delirium syndrome and related conditions.

from a book on death in custody: “excited delirium accounts for 1% of our EDP (emotionally disturbed persons) cases and 99% of our headaches.” this comment, made some years ago at a new york city conference of police chiefs captures the managerial and legal concerns of this entity.

an emergency room expert:

regarding prone position – beware of patients with an excited (agitated) delirium – the factors (per stratton – amer jour emerg med) always associated with sudden death of patients requiring restraint include the following:
1) excited delirium = 100%
2) hobble restraint (a.k.a. total appendage restraint procedure, &
hog-tying) = 100%
3) prone position = 100%
4) forceful struggle against restraint = 100%

from a brief on in-custody deaths:

experts contend that maximal, prone restraint techniques can have suddenlethal consequences. this potential is increased in intoxicated, delirious, and/or violent individuals. law enforcement personnel should employ alternative restraint methods …

and finally, wikipedia on excited delirium

excited delirium is a controversial term used to explain deaths of individuals in police custody, in which the person being arrested, detained, or restrained is highly agitated and may be under the influence of stimulants. the term is not recognized in DSM-IV, but has been listed as the cause of death by some medical examiners.some civil-rights groups argue that the term is being used to absolve police of guilt, in overly restraining people, during arrests. the cause of death only appears where police are involved in restraining individuals.

eric balaban of the american civil liberties union said: “i know of no reputable medical organization ” certainly not the ama american medical association or the american psychological association that recognizes excited delirium as a medical or mental-health condition.”

nathaniel jones: his death while in custody of cincinnati police was first attributed to excited delirium. in a lawsuit over the death of mr. jones, some facts related to excited delirium were disputed. the defendants in the trial court proceedings asserted that: 1) the decedent was resisting arrest; 2) that reasonable force was used in an attempt to restrain him; and 3) that excited delirium was the cause of death.

the plaintiffs claimed: 1) that the officers used excessive force; 2) that the decedent died from compressive asphyxia caused by police officers whose entire weight was on his body; 3) the decedent was not resisting but rather attempting to reposition his body so he could breathe. the trial court found that the plaintiffs sufficiently stated a claim of excessive force.

(this article can be found in the all women blogging and the 22nd brain blogging carnival)

blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences, part 2

yesterday we started a discussion of bad job experiences – part of a blog conversation i’m having with jacob share from the job mob.

so yesterday we set the scene – an awful, awful work environment with a boss or co-workers who make your life miserable.

what can you do about it?

here are the first steps back to career health that i’ve helped some clients take:

phase I – resign

  • if you’re still in that horrible environment and you’ve tried a few things to make it better – get out. if your boss or abusiv coworker walks like a monster, talks like a monster and quacks like a monster – guess what, she’s a monster! (well, probably not – but then you’re not his therapist; it’s not your job to help bring out the angel in that person) get away from the job, even if it’s going to cost you a few weeks’ worth of wages.

phase II – recovery

  • once you’re out of that environment, do whatever you need to do to bring your mental and physical health up to speed. if this takes you a few weeks – so be it. dedicate yourself to it. i’ve seen too many people say, “oh no, i can’t afford to go away for a few days/join a gym/catch up on my sleep because i need to look for another job.” jumping immediately back into the labour pool without replenishing your resources hugely increases your chances at landing yet another bad job.

phase III – resources

  • figure out what your values are, especially your social values. your values are a resource; something that helps you live well. most people who find themselves in difficult work environments don’t use this resource very well. questions are, what role does respect play, and how can you tell you’re respected? what type of personal boundaries do you need? which of your values are non-negotiable?
  • make an inventory of your assets. what skills, experience, knowledge, talents and attitudes do you enjoy using at work? in this phase, it’s really important to focus on that. never mind what you’re not so good at (i bet your old boss was very good at pointing that out) – what are you good at? what makes your heart sing?

let’s hear it from you – have you had bad jobs? did you recover from them? what were your first steps towards a better work environment?

i’m looking forward to what you, gentle readers, have to say about it, as well as jacob’s reply. in future posts, we’ll also talk about the last three phases: research, re-apply and results.

(go here for the next instalment)

blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences

what was the worst job you’ve ever had? what are ways of surviving that experience – and not just surviving but learning from it and thriving in the next job?

that’s the topic of a blog conversation jacob from the job mob and i will be having in the next little while. jacob started it off in his post recovering from bad work experiences by mentioning a few very unpleasant work situations, for example

  • being yelled at by a receptionist for daring to follow up after sending over a CV
  • told 7 months in advance that i was going to be laid off
  • sitting in a tense meeting listening to one executive berate another one

these experiences leave a bad taste in your mouth, even if they happen only once. i remember once being bullied to tears at a meeting; it took me quite a while to get over that.

angry man

it’s even worse when these things happen on a consistent basis. being yelled at is a good example – i can’t tell you how many clients i’ve had who have told me that their supervisor raised his or her voice at them on a regular basis, like a few times a week.

consistently being asked to carry out a boss’s personal tasks and effectively being treated like a servant seems to be high on the list, too. (i once had a job where i was asked to take out the owner’s poodle. to this day i’m grateful i was fired from that job).

and the list goes on …

staying in these work situations is often like staying in a bad marriage. you try and try and try and it doesn’t get better. best case scenario, you learn to live with it. worst case scenario, you end up traumatized the same way people get traumatized by an abusive spouse. and i’d say that even the best case scenario is still pretty lousy.

how do you deal with the fallout, then? how do you get back your self confidence, enthusiasm and motivation so that you can look for better work, don’t go back to yet another bad experience and enjoy your next position?

we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

(image courtesy of orange_beard)
(this post appears in the carnival of life editing and  the december career and job advice blog carnival)

a buddhist carnival – 1st edition!

this is really exciting – our first buddhist carnival!

tiny buddha contemplates the wood pile

the plan is for this carnival to feature first and foremost articles that directly and specifically talk about buddhist practice, reflection and ideas. however, there will also be room for posts that may not explicitly mention buddhism but touch on concepts intrinsic to it.

as adam genkaku fisher, one of my favourite buddhist writers, says in his book answer your love letters

“buddhist” is what other people say. buddhism is what you do.

buddhism does not exist in order to enlarge or improve or adorn some fantasy called “buddhism.” it is just a human world and as such has its successes and flops. but there is one thing remains constant and throughout – your own unlimited, and peaceful life.

so let’s see what buddhists do …

zen and the art of mindful consumerism at the zen housewife

perhaps we can apply the same mindfulness to our consumerism that buddhists apply to eating and other aspects of their lives. in choosing to buy a product, we could make the choice to be acutely aware and conscious of what we are consuming, considering the resources and energy required to make the product, and the people who worked to bring it to us. instead of thinking that taking time out from shopping may harm the economy, let’s review what our needs are, and consider how our purchases may harm those who are making the cheap goods that we so readily consume.

the dalai lama’s smile at mckay today carole reflects on glenn beck, a radio commentator, who seemed to feel that the dalai lama with his eternal smile was being ineffective:

i have never been in the presence of the dalai lama, nor do i know if mr. beck has. but i have been in the presence of a buddhist master. his very presence and countenance so affected me that for days following that meeting i not only felt calmer, more centered and closer to the concept of world unity, but those around me visibly noticed and commented on my own changed behavior.i have also been in the presence of countless politicians, local and national. i have never felt calmer, more centered or more united with humanity as a result nor have those meetings ever had any lasting positive effect upon me.

mr. beck’s implication is that a smile and joyous inner sense of peace will not help the world situation in any significant way. but aggression and war, the modus operandi of the politicians and people in power, have never helped the world in any significant way either and they’ve had their crack at it for at least 2000+ years now. so, before we are so quick to write off the smiling monk, perhaps we should give joyfulness and love of humanity a try.

parenting as practice at socially sustainable

though most parents do not likely have a lot of time to devote to a meditation practice, most of us can make an effort to be more mindful in our family lives. and what a feat it is if we can do just that.

love, sorrow, and attachment at the urban monk

gautama buddha once said: ” i teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.” and what causes this suffering? he answers this question in his four noble truths: “the origin of suffering is attachment.” how do we overcome attachment, then? with the strangest thing of all – the one thing that we think causes attachment.

zen meditation technique – free guided meditation book for daily practice – ch 1 at mastery of meditation, zen & kundalini yoga. this is an article detailing zen meditation (zazen) technique.

joy at all times at loving awareness

we tend to think of joy as somehow mutually exclusive to other experiences. if we’re feeling sad, then of course it’s impossible to have joy. likewise if we’re having a fight or our business is having a downturn. this article points out how they’re not exclusive, and helps the invitation of joy into your life, by surrendering to the present moment. (you might also be interested in another article matthew submitted, that childlike state, and love).

trust, freedom and resentment at trust matters

sometimes, perhaps all the time, happiness is letting go of things you can’t control.

the dilemma of desire at tupelo kenyon

what is desire? where does it come from? why do we have it? does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? this article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. (enjoy some music as you read plus songs with lyrics related to each article – all free.)

additional submissions include

i’d like to thank everyone for their submissions – you made this first carnival possible!

let’s try this again next month, shall we? look for the 2nd edition of a buddhist carnival here at change therapy on december 15, 2007.

have an article you think we should see? go here to submit it.

in gassho.

(image courtesy of photonoob)
(this post appears in debra morehead’s carnival of healing)