Showing posts with label Sensitivity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sensitivity. Show all posts

June 7, 2020

Prickly Like The People

This ball on the bench is prickly like a lot of people.

Say or do something that rubs them the wrong way and you got a sharp aching thorn in your side.

Hence the saying about handling them with "kid gloves" made from fine soft kid leather. 

Handle tactfully and with special consideration or else get stung badly and suffer the pain and consequences. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2019

Don't Call Me Sir!

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Don't Call Me Sir!
In a split second, the officer zeros in on me and admonishingly says: "I’m not a Sir!" I’m taken aback, as I watch the officer speak, their face hardened and angular and their full mustache rising and falling with their words.

It's Pride Month, and I learned a valuable lesson in sensitivity, respect, and diversity and that in short: 

Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter, All Lives Matter!  We are all children of G-d. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 7, 2017

The CEO and The Janitor

Wow, I heard a powerful story from a colleague that I wanted to share.

The colleague's father was a industrial psychologist and he would go into some relatively big organizations to improve the functioning and culture. 

One of the things that he would do is get the CEO and the janitor in the same room together. 

And he would say:
"Both of you have vital jobs in the organization and you need to appreciate each other!"

At this point, the CEO and the janitor would be looking around the room super quizzically.

And the psychologist would to the janitor and say:
"The CEO's job is critical, because without the CEO, we wouldn't have the leadership and vision for the organization to be successful, and you wouldn't have a job and salary.

Then he'd turn to the CEO and  explain:
The Janitor's job is critical, because without the janitor, we wouldn't have a clean and functioning building and facilities for everyone to do their jobs and be successful, and you wouldn't be able to come to work ever day."

It's really amazing that despite all the fancy titles, corners offices, and rich compensation packages for some, really everyone in the organization is vital in their own way!

We need to remember that when we deal with others that they are human beings--in the image of G-d--and we need to treat all with the utmost dignity and respect for both who they are and what they contribute. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 8, 2017

Tiny Houses Old Style





Recently, we visited the Underground Railroad Experience Trail in Maryland. 

It simulates the route and challenges that runaway slaves had to face in seeking their freedom. 

While I am certain that the suffering endured was in no way captured here, I thought it was still beneficial to have people sensitized and thinking about these horrible historical events around slavery.

Aside from the hiking trail, there were these amazing tiny houses from the 1800's.

The wood cabins and stone houses were so cute, but also so inviting. 

If I had to live in a Tiny House, these looked sort of incredibly charming. 

HGTV tiny living spaces--like the one we saw last night that had only 200 feet and was really awkward--have nothing on these tiny gems. 

The matching tiny trees were also a very nice effect. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2015

Disability Stories and Resources

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 

It is hosted by Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on "disability programs and services." 


The blog site promotes the "full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide."


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


- Disability rights activism

- Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability
- Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident
- A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).
- Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network

As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it's like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)

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May 23, 2015

Feeling It All

Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 

We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can't hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what's called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring--because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me--8 years--and I would listen to their "mature" girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, "You need to get a thicker skin!"


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others--but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception...sometimes you can see what others don't, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings--sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 2, 2015

You Can Always Go, Downtown!

This was fascinating to me at work this week...

I learned how people perceive who sits where and what it means to them.

They even come up with naming conventions for it.

So where (some) of the managers sit, that's called "The White House."

If you turn around and go towards the other end of the building, that's called, "downtown."

And crossing the hallway, past the elevators, that is called, "across the bridge,"

Clearly, the culture of each of these areas within the very same building can be completely different--some may be upbeat, friendly, and productive, and others not so much so or even the opposite with the folks running and screaming, "Get me outta here!"

The message...where people sit and even who sits next to whom is a big deal. 

Where you sit can indicate power, alliances, what is getting done, and at the other extreme who is on "the outs."

Like in the movie, Office Space,  when the guy with the red stapler is moved with his desk and all into the caverns of the building--basically to rot because management didn't quite like him. 

Often people who are in disfavor aren't fired, they are simply put in cherem--excommunicated--and to die a slow and painful career and emotional death. 

On the other hand, those who are the shining stars of the organization get moved to a higher floor, with a better view, possibly a corner office, and near the boss--aha, you're needed!

At work, I suggested a little enterprise architecture challenge to look at the three office areas: White House, Downtown, and Across the Bridge and to define the culture of these--what they are and also what do we want them to be for the people and how can we change to get there. 

No one should feel alienated, "less than" (as human beings), or put out to pasture (if they can be and want to be salvaged). 

The messages that are sent to people by assigning fancy titles, fatter paychecks, providing bigger and more luxuriously adorned offices is a form of performance management (reward and punishment)--but remember that those downtown or across the bridge--who may feel underutilized and not valued in the organization, may become the aggrieved marauding mobs that want to take the proverbial "kings head."

While there are differences in where people are at in their careers and where they sit, generally-speaking advancement and mobility should always be based clearly on fairness, equal opportunity, and respect and dignity for all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc. No one should be sitting in the leaky basement!

Also, sometimes it really is just "the luck of the draw" where people end up--truly--where G-d provides the right opportunity, you have the right skill set, those involved have the right personalities "to click", and it's at the right time "to work out.".

What was also interesting about this to me is that one's persons White House is another person's downtown or across the bridge--it's all relative and we are all part of the carnivorous food chain. 

Just to share something personal for me at work is that one thing that I do when setting up a meeting is that I never put in the meeting notice that the location is my office, but rather, I put it down as "my space," because some people don't have offices, but rather cubes, and I don't want to make anyone feel bad. 

In the end, it's all G-d's space!  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2015

Disabled, Can You Imagine?

A very important article in the Wall Street Journal by Anthony Weller about what it's like to Paralyzed From The Neck Down.

Weller has suffered for 10 years with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. 

He describes losing everything...from "incalculable personal pleasures" to being "totally helpless."

And what's more, you have to save your chips in asking others for things, because "you'd be asking the whole day."

"Say goodbye to any sense of personal space, too"--in needing everything, you're essentially left like an open book to everyone around you.

Here, I can't help thinking about those moments of personal indignity--in caring for our own bodies--that even that someone else must be there for.

Then, there is the just sitting around and endless thinking..."There isn't much else to do."

I remember learning about some medieval torture methods and one involved lying a person down in the space cleaved into the stone face of the dungeon and there a person would essentially rot--not being able to move, sit or stand up, or even roll over. 

How long could a person last like that before completely losing their mind?  

While Weller says that he used to imagine being paralyzed as feeling like being "encased in stone," but now he see it more that your limbs just ignore you, to me whether you are paralyzed in your own body or embedded in medieval stone, the challenges physically and mentally are as scary as anything that can be imagined. 

How do you keep your sanity, let alone any hope?

Weller says, you live in the past, "happiness isn't is, but was, [and] you try not to contemplate the future too much."

G-d should have infinite mercy on his creations and lift up the fallen, cure the sick, and release the innocent that are imprisoned...please, please, please let it be. Amen.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 19, 2015

What Type Of IT Error Was That?

So true story...

One of my collegues was giving me a status on an IT problem in the office. 

With a very straight face, he goes, "Yeah, it was an I.D. 10 T error!"

I'm just looking at him with a sort of blank face (I must have been emanating something like, "What are you talking about Willis?")

And he repeats, "An I.D. 10 T error...uh?"

Ok, one more time, I haven't had my coffee yet.

So he goes dotting his head, "What you haven't heard about an I.D. 10 T error?"

"All right, you got me...What is an I.D. 10 T error."

And as I'm saying it out loud and visioning it on paper, his little joke is out of the box.

Hey cut me some slack, I'm a Jewish kid from the Bronx and so I innocently say, "An IDIOT Error?"

Now he's nodding his head up and down in excitement, "An end user--IDIOT--error!"

And he starts laughing his head off. 

Ok boys and girls in IT...rule #16 of office etiquette, please don't call the end-users, idiots.

Back to customer service (and sensitivity) training for some of the jokesters on the team... ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2014

Hey Abrham!

Thanks Starbucks for writing Abrham on my breakfast purchase this morning. 

Apparently, religious sterotypes are alive and well with you. 

How about a little sensitivity training for your staff or do you guess biblical names for all your customers?

Don't worry though, it turns out that is my Hebrew name (and I'm Jewish and proud of it), although it's spelled like this: Avraham. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 14, 2010

Hard On Issues, Soft on People

There is a classic article in Harvard Business Review entitled “The Hard Work of Being A Soft Manager” (1991) by William H. Peace, which sums up “soft leadership” this way: “the stereotypical leader is a solitary tough guy, never in doubt and immune to criticism. Real leaders break that mold. They invite candid feedback and even admit they don’t have all the answers.”

The author recalls his mentor whom he says “taught me how important it is to be a flesh-and-blood human being as well as a manager. He taught me that soft qualities like openness, sensitivity, and thoughtful intelligence are at least as critical to management success as harder qualities like charisma, aggressiveness, and always being right.”

To me, there is a time and place for hard and soft leadership qualities. Leaders must be firm when it comes to driving organizational results and performing with the highest ethical conduct and integrity, but they should act with greater flexibility when it comes to open communications and collaboration with people.

I believe that leaders would be wise to follow the leadership adage of “be hard on issues and soft on people”. This means that great leaders stand up and fight for what they believe is best for their organization and they team and collaborate with their people to make results happen. In this way, leaders and their staffs are working in unity of purpose and as a genuine team, with leaders seen as human, credible and worthy of people’s dedication and hard work. To me the perfect example of this leadership style is Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks who is relentless in his pursuit of a successful global coffee retailing company, but is also passionate about taking care of his diverse stakeholders from employees to coffee growers and even the environment.

In contrast dysfunctional managers are hard on people and soft on issues. They are indecisive, waiver, or are seen as subjective on business issues and this is hard on their people. Moreover, these managers let out their professional and personal frustrations on the very people that are there to support them in the enterprise. Here, leaders alienate and disenfranchise their people, fragment any semblance of teams and fail at their projects. The leaders are viewed as powerful figures that rule but do so with injustice and without meaning. An example of this failed leadership style is “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap who relentlessly cut people to cut costs, but as Slate put it (31 August 1997) “built his ‘turnarounds’ on cosmetic measures designed to prop up stock prices.”

By being unyielding in doing what is right for the mission, and acting with restraint with people, leaders can bring the best of hard and soft leadership qualities to bear in their positions.

Of course, these leadership traits must be used appropriately in day-to-day situations. Leaders should be hard on issues, but know when to throttle back so business issues can be worked through with stakeholders and change can evolve along with organizational readiness. Similarly, leaders should be soft on people, but know when to throttle up to manage performance or conduct issues, as necessary. In this way, hard and soft qualities are guidelines and not rules for effective leadership, and leaders will act appropriately in every situation.


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