Wednesday, September 30, 2015

7 Ways a Boss Can Be Abusive

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Usually, abusive behavior is discussed in the context of a marriage and parent/child relationships. But in reality, it can exist anywhere, even in a work environment. Many larger corporations address obvious abuse such as hitting or screaming though the human resource department. Yet few acknowledge the more subtle methods of abuse some bosses employ. Here are the seven ways a boss can be abusive.

Physical. Their posture is an aggressive stance or intimidating stare. They might even stand over the employee while talking to intensive feelings of domination. Some limit the ability to leave office by physically blocking doorway.  Shoving or pushing occurs behind closed doors with no witnesses. Even the room temperature can be increased to uncomfortable levels to further agitate the employee.

Mental. A rage occurs out of nowhere in private causing the employee to fear being alone with the boss. Some use gaslighting technique to abuse by lying about the past to make the employee doubt their memory, perception, and even sanity. Giving employees the silent treatment, twisting reality to avoid blame, and projecting their negative behavior onto employees are other tactics.

Verbal. They praise employees in front of others but privately are belittling, demeaning, bullying, and degrading. An abusive boss frequently interrupts, talks over, withholds key information, and interrogates.  Typical browbeating includes sayings like: “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.” There is no apology, only threats of being fired.
Emotional. Some bosses nitpick employees apart, belittle their accomplishments, aspirations, or personality in front of co-workers. Teasing, sarcasm, or gossip is commonly used to degrade and mock. They embarrass employees by sharing private information without consent, treating employees like a child, or exposing some shameful event. Often in a passive-aggressive way, they remind employee of their shortcomings. They treat employees as inferior by holding them to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard and gloating when they fail.
Financial. They like to use an employee’s need to earn money as a weapon by refusing to pay what is due, knowing the employee’s vulnerable position makes it unlikely that they will retaliate. They rewrite the rules to avoid paying bonuses, tell employees they can never earn any more money, make it difficult for employee to earn degrees, or limit employee’s ability to advance their career. The employee might be put on overly strict budget while the boss spends excessively.

Sexual. They suggest an employee dress provocatively to attract clients or hint that an employee should have sex with a client. Sometimes they tell inappropriate sexual jokes, knowing this bothers the employee. The more foreboding abuse involves asking for sexual favors in return for a favorable review, coercing employees into performing sexual acts, and threatening loss of job if sexual favors are not performed.

Spiritual. They refuse to give religious holidays off, such as Yom Kippur, when requested.  Employees who don’t comply with the boss’ beliefs are seen as disobedient. A boss may insult the religious choices or practices of employees or treat employees as less because of differing religious views. They might isolate employees from other co-workers due to religious differences. Spirituality or religion may be used as justification for performing abuse acts.

These abusive behaviors may begin cunningly and then escalate further as time goes on. It is similar to bring a pot of water to a boil over low heat. The change is not noticeable day-to-day, but reflecting on it over a longer period of time can reveal the abuse. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Secret Relationship Destruction - Understanding the Devastating Effect of Addiction on Marriage

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

The #AshleyMadisonHack, #JoshDuggar, #JaredSubway and #BillCosby scandals have stunned America the last few days. How could leaders who were so trusted and so well-liked have such dark shocking secrets?
Why would someone who had it all- marriage, family, kids, money, career, fame, health- risk it all for fifteen minutes of physical pleasure? If they wanted another marriage partner they could have just legally divorced and gone on to date other people- right? Wouldn’t there have been an easier way to experience an intimate connection that wouldn’t have created so much scandal and shame for themselves and their families?
            Reputation ruin comes after secret addicts are discovered by a marriage partner- or in the case of these respected leaders- outed by the media. It’s a major new story when these dark secrets are leaked to the press. But that isn’t new. Did you know there was actually an ancient story about a public outing of someone with a secret lifestyle of adultery? Scripture teaches the Master Teacher was confronted by an angry crowd of leaders, (think CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX), who had caught a woman in the very act of adultery. They were judging her – they were humiliating her and they wanted to destroy her and the Master Teacher as well. Jesus simply said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Here is a trusted leader who understood there are two sides to complex situations. The public opinion side and then the spiritual transformation side and he always took people to the side which involved facing the issue and then having a very honest conversation. This approach changed everything then and it still does today.
            Reputation repair comes before the scandal- it comes when a man or a woman have the courage to face the secret addiction in their life and voice it to another. Maybe in a 12 step group meeting, or to a priest or pastor- perhaps to a trusted friend or family member, and for some it involves talking openly with their therapist. The gutsiest people are the ones who directly talk with their partner about the secrets- to straight up face the music with the one who they broke most trust before they get caught. Who expose their weaknesses openly which then allows others to help. This is rare – but when it happens you know someone is on the right road headed toward freedom from their secretive past.
            Secret addictions are broken when someone reaches the critical mass of saying to themselves- “I can no longer live this way- these secrets are eating me alive.” Maybe that is how you feel, or maybe it’s how someone you care about is feeling. Today could be the time for reputation repair by looking into the mirror and facing the secrets in the light of day. Secret addictions are in dark, and usually involves sneaking around. Open confession with a therapist or trusted family member is a way to bring secrets out into the light of day to do something bold about it – to create real change.

            Your reputation is in your hands. Will you wait for the hackers to reveal your secrets on Facebook or will you take control of your future by outing yourself with the people who matter most?  Secrets keep you in an addictive cycle that leads to dysfunction. Talking to someone is a way out of the darkness to a better place. This could be your time to shatter the addictive cycle to really experience freedom.  Please pass this on.