Thursday, August 27, 2015

COMIC RELIEF for The Workplace: Have a Coke and a Smile

Explosive violence occurs too frequently in the America workplace but we seldom hear about the goings on within a company culture or with individuals who allegedly are problems until one morning you wake up and turn on television news stories about a mass shooting or just one or two people is one story too many. People are hurt, lives are gone and hearts are broken. But on August 26, 2015, it happened again.

Most people of color and women who often represent a minority are aware of hidden and some not-so hidden biases that is prevalent in the workplace based on salaries, promotions, wage increases and treatment from day-to-day. No matter how bad it gets, there is never an excuse for violence in the workplace. A bad working environment doesn’t excuse rage or violence in the home, in theatres, churches or anywhere in civilian life. So what if people had careers that were intentionally destroyed by certain group of mean egotistical individuals accustomed to privileges and entitlements who may smugly flaunt their special privileges to taunt or bully their victims; violence isn’t an answer. The truth is that it happens all of the time, but seldom become news until it is made public by filing a huge lawsuit or the outcome of an horrific aftermath from the sole action of an individual as in the case of August 26 when a professionally trained and frustrated journalist wrote a three page manifesto and last words followed by murder and suicide.

America has a long history of intolerance and the workplace can become a powder keg where the dominant social culture has less tolerance for others i.e.;the opposite sex, race, gender, sexual preference or ethnicity. There is such a condition known as repetitive psychological stress syndrome has possibilities of escalating into an explosive situation if not recognized. The danger of workplace violence increases when matters go unaddressed and ultimately the targets may be innocent parties in retaliation. The August 26, 2015 incident that left three people dead including the gunman and one person seriously injured, there are no winners. There are alternative methods in seeking vindication and retribution other than violence.

Alternative Approaches to Snapping

Individuals sometimes are unaware of the causes and triggers for anger. If we can recognize the triggers and use another plans of action rather than seek revenge we can circumvent explosive outcomes that may lead to losing a job or getting arrested. Why not use the antagonistic approach exemplified by Univision reporter Jorge Ramos when he interrupted Donald Trump’s press conference. Ramos’s bombardment of pointed questions was a challenge to Trump’s character and competency to run for president of the United States. Needless to point out that Ramos methodology sent Mr. Trump well over the moon.

We may have visions of carrying out actions like the characters played by Dolly Parton and Lilly Tomlin in the movie 9 to 5, but there are alternatives to snapping like taking out rage with pen and paper. Create a rap about the work place, write a poem and perform open mike, even create a stress relief meditation group at work. You can start an art stress relief group or draw pictures of co-workers or the bullying boss as an over-sized gluttonous gorilla wearing suspender, spats, and a bow tie with a cigar in his mouth (I actually did it hung in my cubicle for months at my last job, which gave me plenty of entertainment). Try joining a writing group tell your story, perhaps submit to a newspaper or as an opt-ed about the issues in the workplace. Your story can help others seek out resolutions in a therapeutic way. Start a meet-up group and call it Jane and John DOEs for Dissed-Off Employees for humor. Have a big piƱata filled with suckers and jaw breakers or soft squeezable stress balls for everyone. Arrange a discussion group to allow people to vent confidentially offers a harm-free alternative solution that will help obtain peace of mind. Be sure to have hold harmless agreements and signed disclosures for your attendees.

The reality is that most of us have experienced something in our past that may irritate a nerve when the memory is triggered. Companies across the US certainly can do a better job with providing objective resources to diffuse internal conflict within departments among staffing. The company should utilize multiple conflict resolution resources for workers. Rather than leave it up to individuals to sort out their own issue can be a silent time bomb. More integration of team building activities is recommended that is not all directed towards productivity, but focused on social exchange to build trust and reduce possible xenophobia that may exist in the cultural work environment. An active Ombudsman program who may serve as an excellent resource is recommended to reduce differences and personal conflicts.

Discrimination is epic and to widely unchallenged from age to race and gender. There’s too much room for ambiguities that go on in the workplace and that slip through the cracks that run deeper that the San Andreas fault. But until the cracks are repaired and companies do their part to address internal issues, it is best for individuals to find alternative methods to handle that stress. It is better to just cool out have a coke and a smile. And if your employer is Coke, I hope they pay and treat you with respect and according to merits of your character and not by the curl in your hair or the size of your waist. Just remember that laughter is best for distressing and healing wounds and that success is the sweetest revenge and the best way to the bank.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When Laughter Is The Cultural Divide

America often boasts as being the melting pot, yet there cultural differences when it comes to humor. On Saturday August 22, 2015, a book club group made up of eleven African American women purchased tickets for a food and wine excursion on the luxurious Napa wine train. Like the other passengers, the women were served wine and cheese, laughed and chatted in between while enjoying good companionship amongst the group; that was until the train arrived in St. Helena You see where this is going, right? So apparently, passengers complained (as far as they know it was one or more) to the staff that the women were excessively loud with laughter and the other passengers found it disturbing. The women, whose ages ranged from thirty- something to eighty-three years of age, were confronted by a staff person to keep their levels down but when their laughter continued they were confronted by a female passenger aboard the train who scoffed stating, “This is not a bar.” Okay? After the second warning, when the train arrived in St. Helen, when the women were met by the local police who escorted them from the train. We are a diverse culture too often divided by class, culture and community. But now and then we will find ourselves in a blended situation coming together for a common experience; in this case it was for wine, cheese and a wonderful 18 mile scenic ride on the Wine train through Napa. What they did not have in common was a motivation of joy, fellowship and welcoming. But what was unique about this story, is that the Sisters of Reading Edge book club stepped off that train with dignity and continued to laugh. They did not let a woman with her britches in a bundle (if you can just imagine that they were way up her crotch) spoil their mood. What is fun and humorous to one culture or class may not be to another, but that should not prevent others the right to enjoy themselves and get a little bit loosey- goosey after a couple of glasses of wine. Just check out the smiling faces of the faces of the Sisters of Reading Edge. Keeping with the humorous mood, they continued to laugh about the situation not allowing the miserable Ms. Snooty Booty spoil the day. No guessing that this group consisted of women with healthy attitudes; why else would the eldest be eight-three years young? That’s what good living and a good sense of humor will do for you.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Coping With Life Through Humor

The saying goes that tragedy + life = comedy. In 2013, life dealt me several low blows. So many other people I knew, I too went through enclave of economic hardships heightened by a series of losses. It had been years of struggle with legal issues; trying to save a home, familial disputes, employment disputes, legal counsel hearings, and divorce. At times, the world appears to have little sympathy in the hardship and loss of others.

After surviving through 2012 and not quote one month into 2013, the next difficult crisis on my plate was the death of my father and an untimely job termination; which circumvented taking time off with pay protected under FMLA. .

The emotional and financial tolls were overwhelming. It took another year for me to remove myself from states of anger and feeling vengeful. Insomnia was frequent; I suffered from mental and spiritual exhaustion. Nightmares about the employer were often occurrences which continued two years after leaving. Soon, I realized that I had been suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from the trauma that loomed in my subconscious and haunted my sleep. For the eight years I worked I had not been in great health and it needed some improving. I knew that I could not continue in this state. It was time for me to find my voice; my true self and get back to being myself. In the past eight years of work, marriage, the debt, and in the life struggles I lost myself and needed to find my voice again.

My ah-hah moment occurred one morning after waking up from a nightmare that led me to log my dreams in a journal. The words began with sarcasm soon turned into humor and pursing comedy struck me. Why not? My choice was between comedy and the psychiatrist's couch. Been there and done that. The psychiatric couch may be satisfactory for others, but was not an alternative for me. The only alternative after you’ve reach middle-age sometimes is to rediscover yourself and take yourself outside of the comfort zones you've come accustomed. Too often we think we are limited specific designs of comfort, but easy to slip into mediocrity and that does not always bring happiness

The time arrived for to re-invent myself and push the envelope and step out of the comfort zone; and humor was my answer for sanity; which prompted me to launch the H3(Cubed) project: Humor, Health and Happiness. I invite you to come along this journey. Get some laughs, and share a few experiences, thoughts or comments. Join me for a slice of humor pie with H Cubed - for Life.