Keep More P.E.T’s?

Busienss ideaNo I don’t mean your family cat or dog or our Three Toed Sloth or even your friendly Wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains, no I mean performance enhanced thinking or P.E.T’s. Performance enhanced thinking is the type of thinking that moves you forward in a balanced, rational and creative fashion. The opposite is surprisingly performance inhibited thinking (P.I.T’s) that can create a cycle of thoughts that hold you back and can reinforce negative perceptions of yourself. So let me explain this process a little more.

If we look at the P.I.T’s to start with. These break down to a number of ways the mind deceives us to believing this is how the world is for us. For example,

  • All or nothing thinking “I’m or its all completely useless”
  • Arbitrary Inference “they are all out to get me”
  • Mind Reading “I just know he/she doesn’t like me”
  • Fortune Telling “I just know I going to get the sack”
  • Catastrophising “Everything is rubbish and I can’t stand it”
  • Labeling “I am totally useless”

Now we have all been guilty as charged of one or any number of the P.I.T’s above and believe me there are many more. So how do we change the P.I.T’s to more P.E.T’s? Well we may want to balance our thinking to think more rationally and objectively about the situation. In one way give yourself a few seconds to ask yourself what is it about this situation that seems to create these automatic negative thinking patterns. Perhaps its how you feel about yourself at the time, or just have lost a sense of perspective?

So to encourage more performance enhanced thinking then we may want to think about evidence for how everything is useless, what exactly is useless or not right currently? Ask yourself these few questions to balance the P.I.T’s –

  • What is the evidence to assume things are going badly?
  • What aspects of the event/problem is going or have gone well?
  • Who do you have to support you and to speak to about the problem?
  • What went well in similar situations in the past – can you use that information to help me now?
  • What is the very worse that can happen – if that did happen how important would that be in a few months time?
  • What is the preferred outcome and what strategies can you put in place to make this happen?
  • How would I help a friend out in a similar situation?
  • What do I need right now to move this issue/problem forward?

These self-help questions challenge the P.I.T’s and help you see the event in a more objective fashion thus helping you make more logical and rational decisions about the event or problem you face. Needless to say, balancing your thinking will help the emotional, physical and behavioural reactions to the event and the sense of being unable to influence events within your control.

So step away from the P.I.T’s and try to balance how you perceive the event or circumstance and see it through a different more constructive and rational lens – and most of all get more P.E.T’s! Good luck and should you need some more support I am only an email away.


Work Place Psycho(babble)(madeup)ology

images (33)Love it or hate it psychology in the workplace has an impact on all or working lives. From applying for a job and taking a psychometric test, an interview that is semi structured or structured toward having to attend an assessment centre etc. When you attend a training/L&D programme hopefully your learning transfer is measured and an assessment will be conducted over time to ensure a good return on investment for the business. Research & models of leadership, management,groups/team function, H&S, HR, culture, behaviour etc etc, Notwithstanding the burgeoning area of coaching psychology that helps numerous people in and out of the workplace daily. Now I could go on and discuss every area that work psychology gets its sticky little fingers into, but this will probably start the collective yawn that work place psychology can evoke.

Psychology has physics envy, there I have said it. An ex-colleague and good chum who is a physicist & statistician takes a dim view of this adolescent science of psychology. Our conversations go like this – psychology is madeupology and just a load of psychobabble that doesn’t make any sense. After all you do is confirm the bleeding obvious, its all common sense! I won’t go into my reply as it is unprintable. So why does psychology have this problem and sometimes negative perception in the workplace? Why is it some businesses and individual see us as just confirming what they already know or perhaps think they know.

Well firstly the thing about common sense it ain’t that common. We generally see the world though a perceptual lens that suits our beliefs and values. Therefore it may be that psychology at work is of little value due to the seemly obvious nature of the results. However, without all the research behind the theories and models of the workplace and facets within the organisation, how can we ever confirm the bleeding obvious as it stays as perceived common sense? This is where the issues exists as a lack of understanding of the years of work on theory and modelling on so many different areas of the workplace that sometimes it just gets overlooked as business white noise. Perhaps then its down to us to make psychology more understandable and more applicable to everyone’s working life? Something I believe should be the case.

To use psychology in the workplace is a valuable tool that is excluded at the detriment of any organisation. Many guru’s are employed to cast upon the masses their pet understanding of how things work with people and groups. Thing is it is just one person’s one eyed view without any commitment to ongoing development of their subject, organisation or clients. Though I do understand you pays your money your takes your choice with all things. However, without any background in the subject apart for a nice certificate and a great chat up line where is the substance of the offering?

So as a geeky psychologist who cares about the profession, I see physics envy is a positive thing as it make us work harder to find answers to the big organisational questions. We are all psychologists, we love people watching and making broad generalisations about groups and their views. So why not find out about the science of the bleeding obvious and how uncommon common sense actually is. Its not that bad you know and we might be able to make some sense of how you and your organisation ticks.

The Dependency of Work – work to live or live to work?

images (24)Now I have to admit the title is quite provocative but hopefully posed an interesting question for you. That question then is, are some of us dependant or even addicted to work and working? We may be perhaps but for many different reasons. Our life choices will probably mean we need to earn money to pay for a mortgage, a car, food etc, all pretty legitimate reasons to be in employment of course. Our patriotic contribution toward national taxation will support our countries economic status and services etc. So all worthy and wholesome activities to be engaged in. However, do we trade the security of paid employment for the dependency we then have on our employer?  Do we sometimes experience poor self esteem and lack of confidence that drives us toward poor mental wellbeing; as a result become addicted to the work we do?

Whist cogitating for this blog, I stumbled across a recent article by Adrian Furnham “Work Addiction” that seemed to trigger off a few more thoughts of my own. These latent thoughts had been there for some time, following my work designing & delivering employability programmes, meeting & coaching many people along the working spectrum. There is a balance between enjoying work and being enthusiastic about what you do, toward tipping over into distorted career & personal thinking, overwork, job insecurity, perfectionism and over competitiveness is difficult and may well depend upon circumstance and work culture.

The need to continually prove oneself in conjunction with an organisation that encourages rampant competition & toxic presenteeism, is likely to encourage the addictive and dependant work attitudes and beliefs. Thus a work-life balance is disapproved of and actively discouraged by the organisation and group culture. As Mr Furnham suggests ‘Studies on workaholics showed they held various beliefs. Work is about win-lose not win-win’. ‘ nice guys finish last’; ‘you prove yourself at work’. They strive against others and certain targets”. Easy to then imagine the link between poor organisational culture and addictive & dependant behaviours for the employee.

So the workaholic may well be addicted to work or more to the point the bolster it gives the poor confidence and self-esteem, job insecurity, competitiveness, control freakery and other distinct issues. Work over 50/60 hours per week these days suggests then there may well be addictive or dependant tendencies, but how can anyone recognise the signs.

  • Perhaps find it difficult to switch off and give more time to work than is necessary
  • Needing approval and the constant need for affirmation, power and position
  • Mobile devices on all day & night for the fear of missing out (FOMO) on important news or information
  • Compelled to “work to finish” regardless of the work/life consequences
  • Poor family & personal relationships
  • Stress and other health related conditions

Many symptoms that we all recognise at one point or another I am sure. Question is what do we do about it now that we are embedded in the highly pressurised work environments today. Primarily, knowing thy self can help. Take the cognitive behavioural models that help individuals recognise the events or the work is having an effect upon negative thinking styles (catastrophising), how you feel (stressed, anxious), the physical changes (feeling sick, headaches and nauseous) and behavioural ramifications to the environment. Indeed, the behaviour change can emanate its self in unhealthy self medication with drink or smoking. Though more to the point be able to recognise the toxic events and take action to mediate them with positive and active problem solving and actions.

With our coaching support or self-help, this model will help you understand the reason for the work dependency and either support a transition toward healthier work/life balance or coming to terms with the work you do and managing it accordingly. Also consider mindfulness, stress relieving exercise, socialising with friends and family and any other activities that can help regain a sense of perspective between the work and life balance.

Of course no one size fits all, though it is clear enjoyable and fulfilling work, whatever you do is beneficial for wellbeing. Being dependant & addicted to your work with all the consequences may not be, that will sadly have a negative impact on both the person concerned and the people around them too.  So is it working to live or living to work…………..over to you!

A Furnham, In Psychology Today, Work Addiction – A Sideways View (Accessed 2/06/2014)