Monday, September 21, 2009

TRP - Totally Responsible Person

All-day workshop given by Organizational Development at Piedmont Plaza. Presenters were Susan Hathcock, who is a Nurse Educator, and Jennifer Evans, who works for Org Dev. My expectations were fairly low, but I left the day feeling energized and empowered.

The gist of TRP is to stay positive, productive, and effective - no matter what the circumstances! Many, many elements of our day are not under our control, but our reactions are. Taking personal responsibility for our emotions and attitudes can make a huge difference.

#1 is eliminating the victim mentality - they gave us 200+ statements like
  • That's not fair
  • I'm sick and tired of . . .
  • He/she/they should . . .
  • If you can't do your part, I'm not going to do mine
  • It's the system
  • That makes me so mad
  • I'm overwhelmed
that contribute to a victim mentality. The Totally Responsible Person accepts everything that is happening as providing opportunities for learning and growth (OFLAG) - and no one else can be blamed for emotions that arise in you.

Instead of Stimulus -> Reaction
Stimulus -> Choice -> Response

With practice, we can become aware of those times and situations when we enter into the victim mentality. Awareness empowers us to turn a reaction into a response.

Victim mentality thinks the other person is the problem - and the solution. Any thought, statement, or action that indicates an abdication of responsibility for one's emotional state and behavior reveals "victim".

Elements of TRP:
  1. Everything that happens to me provides me with opportunities for learning and growth.
  2. No one else can be blamed for any negativity my emotional nature experiences.
  3. I shall seek no exceptions to this belief, even when I'm not at fault.
This is true for home AND work, and we charted our tendencies in regard to partner, child, friends, in-laws, parents, boss, co-worker, customer, health, weight, traffic, etc.

One aspect that surprised me was associating a "victim mentality" to actions like gathering around the water cooler to complain, criticize, and commiserate. Spreading negativity and discontent incites others to feel victimized! Criticism and gossip are separative, lower morale, wastes time, and usually comes back to you. How to handle another's criticism of an absent third person? Perhaps say, "How can we help that person?"

They recommended conducting a nightly review, noting critical conversations and thoughts. Note whether our approach to people is generally kindly or critical. Do we attempt to see the good in others, or do we focus on their weaknesses and failings? Also note how we criticize ourselves - that internal dialogue can infect our relationships with others as well.

This is boiling down seven hours of workshop to a few key points, but they're especially helpful with the new medctr administration.
"Create an 'organizational culture' in our workplace and home where victim mentality is simply an inappropriate way of behaving - the kind of environment where it is simply seen as unproductive or even old-fashioned. This environment will be supportive of those people who are in the process of becoming more responsible. This environment first has to 'start with me'. We need to set the example for others."
We also talked about "Group Victims", like School vs Hospital, admin vs worker bees, clinical vs non-clinical, techie vs non-techie, men vs women, Christians vs non-, white vs. non-, rural vs city, smoker vs non-, professional vs blue-collar.

The "Ten Commitments for Effective Group Work" can relate to dept, section, workgroup, team, and even family. They are posted outside my cube if you're interested.

The family aspect is especially interesting to me; because often family members (as well as co-workers) will unintentionally encourage victim behaviors by Rescuing and Enabling.

Rescuing: Taking care of others so that they do not have to be responsible for their behavior or emotional state.

Enabling: Encouraging the victim mentality by letting others know their victim behavior and negative emotional state are justified and acceptable.

"It may seem harsh, inflexible, or unloving to be TRP, especially with loved ones. But we must ask ourselves, 'Will my actions further the growth and development of the other person? Will they help build character?' . . . Not rescuing or enabling may be the best, and most compassionate gift we can ever give another person."

Quite a few parents in the group had trouble with this part. Jen and Susan both have kids, and were able to speak from many years of experience!

We started running out of time toward the end, but I particularly learned from the part called
The Gift of Feedback
Feedback is information that we use to make corrections in our thoughts and behavior to become more responsible, effective, productive, creative, and successful - at work, at home, and in life generally. Feedback is essential for learning and growing, and teaches us how we affect the world around us.

When we are being a victim, feedback appears to be criticism. When we are TRP, the same feedback is seen as useful, welcome information. Thus our rejection of - or openness to - feedback reveals our state of mind. Even if the other person has a personal agenda, or is unskilled in giving feedback, we can always search for the "kernel of truth" that exists in the feedback.

Be aware of LANGUAGE - it is a powerful indicator of our emotional state. Particularly the phrase, "makes me" - as in,
  • that makes me angry
  • s/he makes me happy
  • naughty jokes make me feel embarrassed
  • icy roads make me nervous
  • sunshine makes me happy
Ever time you use that phrase ("makes me"), you are saying that you are not responsible for your reactions to the people and events in your life. This diminishes your sense of personal power. No one can make you feel anything. Your emotions are in your power to control.

In working with OTHER people who exhibit the victim mentality, we can help them move toward a "higher" and more reasoned way of thinking. Once we start noticing these behaviors, don't feed them! For example, some people are so accustomed to complaining that it seems like the natural thing to do, but it reinforces the victimhood. When we are in these situations, we can be silent, change the subject, or propose solutions rather than jump into the wallowing.

Know the difference between sympathy and empathy - saying something like, "you poor thing" does not help the person. Don't take on their pain as your pain, that just continues their suffering. Misery loves company. Don't provide it. Changing the subject does wonders. Optimism is contagious! Move to the future, and focus on solutions. Use the word "think" rather than the word "feel" - that can help them move from an emotional state (feeling) to a problem-solving state.

Adversity, or feeling like a victim, is a test of our character - and a way to develop key character traits. Our success in every area of life is directly related to our ability to handle adversity. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can choose our response. Everything is an opportunity for learning and growth.

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