Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Mend Strained Office Relationships

You know you’re in a difficult relationship. You feel awkward, unhappy and apprehensive whenever you’re in that person’s company, but what can you do about it? Educator/clinicians Pat Love, Eva Berlander, and Kathleen McFadden give that answer, showing how broken relationships may not only be mended but magnificent in their new book, “You’re Tearing Us Apart: Twenty Ways We Wreck Our Relationships and Strategies to Repair Them.”

Although their book is geared primarily to relationships between mates, partners, and spouses—its solid, yet simple, advice applies equally well to office and work-related issues.

Readers get a quick and straight-to-the-point look at twenty ways a relationship can be ruined and most importantly how to fix them. Using more than fifty years of combined professional experience and scientific study, they've ensured tried-and-true strategies that work.

Experience proves one person can destroy a relationship not two. A broken trust can be caused by just one person pushing the other too far. It can happen either by invading privacy, over criticizing, or even a drunken argument. But the good news is that while one person can indeed break the relationship apart, one person can also be the one to fix it. All it takes is three steps:

Step 1: Recognize the part of your behavior that undermines intimacy Step 2: Replace harmful behaviors with healthy acts of love Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2!

Who has the time and inclination to wade through 200 pages to find a solution to an immediate relational problem? These three authors collaborated to write a narrative where each chapter is broken down into four easy to understand sections. The first illustrates what it's like to live with (or in some cases work with) someone practicing the relationship-threatening behavior. Then the psychology behind the behavior is explained followed by a concise description as to why the behavior is so threatening to the relationship. Each chapter ends with a variety of strategies to help any two people overcome their problems.

One example is controlling behavior. You like your job, you like your work, but  your supervisor continually criticizes you, doesn’t allow you to submit good ideas, and in general keeps boundaries on everything you do. That’s not healthy for anyone and, these authors contend that the most common reasons one person tries to control another is to manage his or her own anxiety or insecurity. He feels safer and less vulnerable when everything happens as expected. Often the behavior is unnoticed because it’s unconscious and others view it as being the right way.

 

As Dr. Phil often says, and it applies in this case, “You teach people how to treat you!”

Even if he’s your boss, even if you risk being fired and have to get another job, you MUST speak up if you want to be happy in this one.

These authors claim, “If you’re the person being controlled, then it’s your responsibility to speak up! Silence enables the behavior to continue. You might be more aware of the controlling behavior than the person doing the controlling. Find a way to agree on a new behavior (a way of talking to one another.) If that doesn’t work, check with Human Relations for counsel. There may be others who reported this supervisor is mistreating employees.

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