Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation
HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time! juliamenard.com
HEN arrives at the full moon -
because light transforms darkness.
Full Moon: October 15, 2016 - Year 14, Issue 10
Table of Contents:
1. HEALTH - The National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety
When I talk about creating safe conversations in my difficult conversation workshops, some people associate safety with physical safety. Now, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has created a tool that many leaders, human resource directors and occupational health and safety professionals are talking about.
It is called the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety. It was released in 2013 and is based on ongoing and multiple consultations with organizations, academics, workplace stress-related legislation, regulations and case law, expert review panels etc. It is a first of its kind in the world, and it is rapidly starting to be adopted by many organizations. Some of the early adopters include health authorities across the country and big corporations such as Bell.
One person from the expert review panel who has contributed significantly to the creation and promotion of this new standard is Martin Shain. Dr. Shain is an academic and specialist in the relationship between the law, mental health and the workplace, His website provides discussion papers he has created for the Mental Health Commission of Canada on the concept of the Standard. As Shain explains from his website:
“This new standard of care raises the bar for civil, respectful conduct in the workplace. It calls for no negligent, reckless or intentional harm to employee mental health. It requires that employers make every reasonable effort to protect workers’ mental health during the course of employment.”
Most provinces in Canada have bullying and harassment legislation in place already, including my province of British Columbia but the new Standard does add more expectations and structures to support such civility. One key example is their “Guideline #2” which calls for all employers to:
“Select, train, promote and evaluate the performance of supervisors and managers according to the additional criterion of interpersonal competence.”
One of the workplaces I’ve done a lot of coaching, mediating and training in is in health care and I noticed early on that there is a clear standard that if someone cannot meet the technical requirements of the job, the person most often will be held accountable for their behaviours and expected to raise their standard. However, if someone’s interpersonal skills were deficient, this was seen as something to be ignored, or excused away. “Oh that’s just George.” Or “She’ll never change – it’s her personality.” “Ignore Fred. I do.”
Being able to communicate and bring up tough subjects is part of our job. The good news is that workplaces are changing to reflect this expectation of interpersonal and emotional intelligence.
For more information on the Standard, check out this website.
“It’s time to start thinking about mental wellbeing in the same way as we consider physical wellbeing, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace.”
… Louise Bradley, President & CEO, MHCC
2. ENVIRONMENT - Our Indigenous Roots
I heard a piece on CBC radio the other day, where a First Nations caller said he thought new refugees should be introduced to their First Nations culture as part of the welcome and orientation to Canada and sent to their communities for connection.
Then, someone I know said he had attended an intertribal gathering this summer (the Yellow Wofl Pow Wow in Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island) where new refugees were invited and received a welcoming ceremony.
Lastly, another friend pointed out that the city of Vancouver has started to strengthen links between First Nations and immigrant communities through the “Vancouver Dialogues Project”. The City of Vancouver set up “dialogue circles” in different parts of the city – where participants attended three two-hour meetings. The first meeting is focused on “remembering the past”, the second on “current issues and initiatives”, and the third on “envisioning and developing strategies” for future collaborative relationships.
That made me think about how we say Canada is a nation created by diverse nationalities, but really we sit on a foundation of aboriginal ways. This is the First Nation – a collection of nations sharing some key values and worldviews quite different than the European settlers of the 1700 and 1800s.
What do you think about all Canadians being invited to explore our indigenous roots? Where would you go if you wanted to know more? What do you think you could learn from an Indigenous perspective that could help you today?
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“One major difference between our people and those of the dominant society today is humility. Among our people, no matter how far or how high a person goes, they know they are small in the presence of God and the universe.”
… Lincoln Tritt
3. NEGOTIATION - Is Politics the Same in the Workplace?
As someone who works solely in the workplace to spread the gospel of compassion, respect and civility, I am disheartened by the conflict playing out in the American Presidential race. The blaming and attacking language being used by both parties, and especially by the Trump camp, would not be acceptable behavior in the workplace.
Can you imagine if your boss, or a colleague, was talking about you and said they wanted to look into “your fat, ugly face and fire you.” Or that you are a “very unattractive person – inside and out.” Or a “bimbo.”
Not as obvious, but still emotionally distressing, would be someone telling you that something you did, and apologized for, is “exactly” who you are and clearly demonstrates your unsuitability for your job.
Whether the obvious and direct attacks from Trump, or the subtle but equally threatening attacks from Clinton, both leaders’ behaviours would not be seen as respectful by workplace standards. Yet, somehow this is acceptable behavior in the political arena.
Our leaders model and telegraph to us what type of interpersonal communication and respectful behaviors are acceptable.
Calm talk begets complex dialogue, understanding and better solutions. Personal attacks beget defensive behaviours, counter-attacks and no dialogue.
At a time when standards like the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety are starting to gain traction in workplaces, what about the political arena? What standards of interpersonal communication do we want to expect of our political leaders? If we don’t hold them accountable, who will?
“If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.”
… Lyndon Johnson
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training