Important Consumer Note: If your laptop, printer, router, cable box, or smartphone is broken (facepalm), I feel your pain! But please note – this article is not going to help with your technology issues (rats).
I tend to write my blogs based on themes that emerge from my coaching and consulting practice. This past month I have seen a trend of clients talking about the need to repair broken relationships. They are curious about the best way to approach someone to restore something they believe has been compromised. For those wrestling with something similar, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between repairing a relationship versus hitting the reset button.
To repair a relationship suggests some wrong needs to be made right. There needs to be a discussion about what was said or done with the objective of apologizing, forgiving, rebuilding trust, and moving on. However, when teams want to do this work together, within a full-day meeting, I start to sweat (gulp). It is hard to keep the collective conversation from creating more wrongs. Often what is brought up can be unfiltered and tends to cause additional damage and resentment. We can spend precious hours admiring all the microaggressions we have passed back and forth in our professional relationships.
Instead, I try to get my clients to acknowledge the power of hitting the reset button. This means naming that relationships have not been optimal between people or parties for different reasons. Often people hold different positions that cause tension. There could be elements of ingroup versus outgroup dynamics that result in people feeling excluded. Sometimes, there is a long history of climate issues that leave people feeling devalued or unheard. Often relationships are threatened more by system issues than by the individuals themselves. When this is the case, repair is probably not the answer. Instead, a commitment to resetting the standards of professional engagement is the needed first step.
When someone asks for a reset, the following need to be present.
Sometimes a reset is far too simple and professional relationships need more in-depth repair work (like going back versus forward and sharing context to seek restoration). Before you dive into that work – try the reset approach first. It may be precisely what is needed and can save you time and precious energy.
What professional relationships need a reset?
Silencing experiences for women are far too common. The media tends to pick up on those that are sensational with a larger than life leader/predator abusing those with minimal power trying to navigate their careers. It is hard to imagine how these things can go on so long without intervention and many are questioning the silence behind what is coined the “casting couch” phenomenon. If we step outside of Hollywood and look in other corporate spaces, we will see women silenced in multiple ways, and it is not always by the sexual evil predator disguised as a wealthy and successful businessman.
Women in leadership roles – with inherent power and authority based on their position – struggle with the silencing phenomenon much more than realized. There are at least three reasons why.
The phenomenon of silencing is complex, and the recovery process is not just a flip of a switch when all the sudden words are spoken, and silence is broken. It is never quite that simple. Female leaders can take years to recover fully from a silencing experience, and men have an essential role to play.
What has been your experience with silencing?
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Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University