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Manage conflict at work

Disagreements are inevitable, but there is always an opportunity to learn from them and potentially come to a better understanding. Read on for advice on what to do when you disagree in the workplace.

In the book Collective Genius, coauthor and Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill says, ‘[Diversity and conflict] are the critical ingredients to innovative solutions. When I looked at healthy organisations, I found that they build these norms in, where it’s psychologically safe to have conflict and discussion.’

Creating a safe space where conflict and disagreements are welcome can be tricky, but it is beneficial. You should strive for a healthy work environment at all times. These tips might help:

1. Be clear

Articulate the issue clearly. Most arguments stem from one party not expressing their view explicitly, resulting in the other party interpreting what is being said incorrectly. Don’t be afraid to be direct and upfront, but make sure you do it in a respectful manner that leaves no room for ambiguity.

2. Know that you’re not always right

Approach every argument as a learning experience. It’s human nature to always want to be right, so taking a step down can be tough. In the workplace, it’s about finding the best solution that works for everyone. Set aside your pride and use constructive criticism for professional improvement. It’s also a good idea to ask questions in order to gain a better understanding of the other person’s point of view.

3. Listen and accept feedback

After you’ve stated your side of the argument, be ready to hear and accept feedback. Listening is an important part of resolving an argument: you can gain perspective about the argument and your argument style from what others tell you. Feedback may not always be constructive, but it can help you and the opposing party find opportunities for compromise.

4. Calm down

If the conversation becomes heated, take a step back. Disagreement should not be a catalyst for rudeness or aggressive behaviour. Always be civil and remember that the goal is to find a solution that works for everyone, not break your team apart in the office.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE.


Are you an impostor?

Perhaps you’ve recently been promoted, assigned an important project or become a manager – but your default setting is to feel like you don’t deserve it. Impostor syndrome is a common phenomenon, but you can give your confidence a boost.

What is impostor syndrome?

Impostor phenomenon, or impostor syndrome, describes feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy – that you do not deserve your achievements and faked your way to success, even though you may have worked hard to get where you are.

The condition isn’t listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a publication put together by experts that classifies and defines mental disorders with a view to improving diagnosis and treatment. However, there is evidence that it can lead to clinical anxiety, depression and stress, according to Psychology Today. It’s usually characterised by:

  • Difficulty accepting compliments and recognition
  • Avoiding situations in which you’re not completely confident that you know what you’re doing
  • Thinking your success is a one-time occurance and that it is unlikely to happen again
  • Feeling you need to work twice as hard to prove yourself
  • Regularly worrying about your performance and how people perceive you
  • Fearing you’ll be uncovered as a fraud

Who is likely to suffer from it?

Impostor syndrome frequently occurs among successful, high-achieving people who have advanced rapidly through their careers. ‘Impostors believe they are intellectual frauds who have attained career success because they were at the right place at the right time, knew someone in power or simply were hard workers – never because they are talented or intelligent or deserved their positions,’ said Dr Pauline Clance in her book The Impostor Syndrome: Overcoming the Fear that Haunts Your Success. According to the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), in many instances it seems to be especially prevalent among people who work in a field where their gender or race makes them an obvious minority.

What can you do to counter it?

There are steps you can take to shake off the confidence-killing monster when it rears its head. The Muse recommends:

1. Figure out what’s killing your confidence.
What is making you doubt yourself – an important meeting, a new project or position?

2. Tell someone about what’s bothering you.
Talk to someone outside of work, who can identify your irrational feelings of fear and give you a boost when you need it by reminding you of your strengths.

3. Remind yourself of your achievements.
Take a deep look into the past and consider the hard work you have put in and everything you have achieved up until now. Remember, you got yourself where you are and earned your spot – your accomplishments are proof of that.

4. Note that the people who put you where you are did not make a mistake.
Don’t doubt your manager’s intelligence and competence. They made well-thought-out, calculated, deliberate decisions based on your experience and potential. You deserve to be where you are.

5. Update your language.
Phrases such as ‘It might just be me, but…’ and ‘Maybe it’s a longshot, but…’ show your doubt. Replace them with assertive and confident language and you’ll eventually start to believe in yourself. Start thinking that your questions are valid and that you aren’t the only person wondering about them.

These tips can help give you the boost you need, but there is use in asking the question: what is it about our workplaces, culture and interpersonal behaviours that makes it so easy for so many people to feel insecure about their proven abilities? It’s possible that addressing and resolving the problem lies in everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge that success requires a combination of hard work, talent and a sprinkle of good luck.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE.


The benefits of a breath of fresh air

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Sex education: How to talk to your child

You can never start too soon when it comes to talking to your child about sex. How do you broach the subject and how much detail is appropriate?

Today’s Parent makes the good – and potentially scary – point for many parents that we’re sexual beings from birth. Tara Johnson, a sexuality education specialist, says infants are curious about their bodies and will often touch their genitals. Toddlers also have no sense of privacy and may masturbate openly. This is why it’s important to educate your child as early as possible about their bodies and sex. What you share and how you share it is dependent on many factors, including their age.

0–2 years old

Today’s Parent suggests 2 points to include during this life stage:

  1. Allow your child to explore his or her body, but also teach them when it’s appropriate to do so. Don’t scold or embarrass them; simply explain that we don’t show our underwear in public, for example.
  2. Teach him or her the correct terminology of all their body parts. This discourages feelings of shame or shyness about their genitals from the beginning.

3–5 years old

Start teaching the difference between good touching and bad touching. Without alarming your child, explain that their genitals are private and they shouldn’t allow anyone except their parents or a doctor (when they have a check-up) to touch them.

Today’s Parent adds that children are intensely curious at this point and that it’s important to answer their questions correctly as they’re also very imaginative and susceptible at this stage. How much you share should be dependent on how much your child wants to know. You don’t have to go into too much detail – your child will no doubt have a short attention span and may be overwhelmed if the information is too complex.

6–8 years old

Show yourself to be a non-judgmental, honest parent at this stage, says Planned Parenthood. If your child asks a question (even if it’s about oral sex, for example), answer in simple terms but truthfully. At this stage, your child will be in primary school, where they’ll come into contact with other curious children and adolescents who may take it upon themselves to share (possibly inaccurate) information.

Your child is also only a few years away from entering puberty, so this is a good time to start preparing them. You can give them an educational book and encourage them to approach you if they have any questions after reading.

9–12 years old

By the time your child reaches puberty, you want to have established an open relationship with him or her. Your child will be going through physical and emotional changes that could be overwhelming. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) lists depression, anger and low self-esteem as some of the feelings your child could be experiencing. Offer support and remind them that their home is a safe space.

Now is also the time to make sure your child knows how to practise safe sex. Talk about romantic relationships as well. It may seem too early to do so, but once your child reaches their teens, they may start engaging more with the opposite sex and it’s important to teach them to be respectful of their own and others’ bodies. You also want to educate them about the emotional aspects of being in a romantic relationship, including break-ups and rejection, so that they’re able to handle these negative emotions when the time comes.

As they become more interested in romantic relationships, they’ll start questioning their gender and sexual orientation. Remain open and non-judgmental and don’t assume that they’re ‘going through a phase’ – what your child is experiencing is very real and how you handle it will greatly influence how they feel about themselves. If your child ‘comes out’ to you, educate them and yourself, if necessary, and respect them. Follow their lead.

13–18 years old

At this stage, hormones will be informing a lot of your child’s decisions. They might be experiencing pressure from their peers to have sex. If they trust you and are willing to come to you for advice, don’t become angry or judgmental. Remember that everyone has experienced this and how you and your child handle these moments will inform their relationships going forward. Make them aware and be sure they understand the emotional (and legal, if they’re below the age of consent) consequences that come with sex.

If your child thinks he or she is ready for sex, talk to them about their contraceptive options as well as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Provide additional resources, such as educational books or appropriate online articles, as children are also easily influenced by what they see and hear. If they want to use contraceptives, go with them to a clinic to show your support and help them make an informed decision.

News24 offers the following tips on how to talk to your child at any stage:

  • Remain calm so your child doesn’t think he or she did or said something wrong.
  • It’s natural to feel embarrassed when talking about sex but it’s important to do so. The more you talk about it, the less likely your child will be to engage in inappropriate sexual behaviour when they’re older.
  • Use cues from their environment. For example, if your child hears about something relating to sex on the news, use the opportunity to talk about the subject.

For confidential assistance, contact your CAREWAYS EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAMME; SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE.


Is it time for a change?

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You can win at work

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How to be a healthier you

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