How to Successfully Manage Office Politics

The politics at work can be similar to family dynamics--each person is a part of the larger system and plays a role within the group.  We often unconsciously play roles at work that are familiar to us from our family-of-origin (i.e. the oldest child becomes the bossy leader, the adult child of an alcoholic takes care of everyone else, the neglected child sits in a cubicle and continues to not have his or her voice heard or needs met, etc.)  We each have the responsibility of becoming conscious of the roles we play in larger groups.  We must also make the necessary changes so that our roles promote wellness in our lives. 

Each workplace has its own company culture comprised of particular values, expectations, communication styles, personalities, dynamics, and of course, a certain amount of dysfunction.  Therefore, the workplace can be a political minefield unless we equip ourselves with the psychological and relational skills to navigate it effectively. 

After nearly 20 years of counseling professionals, I recommend the following:  


How to Transition Your Career from a Job into Your Life’s Work

We are all far more than simply what we do for work.  However, if we choose work that is congruent with our unique abilities and highest self, our career can be a pivotal aspect of our psycho-spiritual journey towards growth and development.  

Like many therapists, I came into this work as a result of my own family-of-origin challenges, which blessed me with gifts of psychological awareness, empathy, and relational abilities.  My work as a therapist has been intellectually, emotionally and spiritually rewarding.

As a business owner, I have been through various highs and lows that have stretched and pushed me further than I ever imagined, both personally and professionally.  I have come to understand that the ebbs and flows of my work success are a direct reflection of the evolution of my consciousness.


How to Recover from a Work Blunder

A blunder is a stupid or careless mistake, not a serious error (like pulling the wrong tooth) or a major faux pas (like when an executive client did body shots off his sexy assistant at the company holiday party, an act that cost him both his job and marriage...)  Because we are all human and nobody is perfect, we all make work blunders occasionally.  

My most embarrassing blunder occurred years ago when my boss at the time came to hear me give a presentation at a client company.  While he was making some closing remarks at the end of my talk, I thought it would be a good idea to grab our Power Point disc out of the laptop that was in the center of a circle of desks for attendees.  My plan was to gracefully slip under a desk, quietly grab the disc and be ready to leave when he finished.  Instead, when I went under the desk I realized it had a back panel that left only a 10” gap between the desk and the floor.  Having already went under the desk, I went for it...  I began doing a military crawl under the back panel of the desk towards the center of the circle...

Confidence is an Important Determinant of Success: How to Boost Yours

I attended a dinner party recently where the question was asked, “Which is the greater determinant of success: confidence or talent?”  The consensus was that confidence is more important because you can be the most talented person in the world and nobody will know it unless you have the confidence to put yourself out there.

This theory is supported by the outrageous incomes of celebutantes in our culture (those who are “famous for being famous” and lack a particular talent, a la Paris Hilton...)  However, most of us desire to share our gifts and talents in a way that is personally meaningful and beneficial to others.  Unless you aspire to be like Van Gogh or Emily Dickinson and not experience the success of your life’s work during your actual lifetime, you are going to need to develop the confidence to promote your abilities.    

Remember, confidence is not arrogance (I always say healthy self-esteem is midway between Diva and Doormat...)  After 20 years of counseling professionals, I recommend the following:  


Strengthen Your Professional Network by Improving Your Relational Skills

Regardless of your field, your position, or whether you are self-employed or not, your network is perhaps your most important professional resource.  While your education and experience are essential building blocks, your network is most often what will get your foot in the door with any professional opportunity you desire.  

You may be thinking in a traditional business sense about ways to get out there and meet new people, such as joining your professional association, serving on a board and maximizing LinkedIn and other social media sites.  However, it is also important to develop your relationship skills and cleanse your karma!  After nearly 20 years of counseling professionals, I recommend the following:

Understand networking can happen anywhere, anytime.  My best business contact was made when I was at a cosmetic store trying some new lipstick, of all things.  The make-up artist asked me what I did for a living.  I seized the opportunity to practice my elevator pitch, something that was new and awkward for me early on in my practice.  She shared she had a friend who was a psychiatrist who just opened a practice near mine.  I said I would love to meet the psychiatrist friend, and handed the make-up artist my card.  The psychiatrist called me a few days later, we had coffee and she said she would fill my practice when I came back from my maternity leave (something I was anxious about, having just left my full-time employment.)  We have cross-referred hundreds of clients since, and developed a friendship to boot!

Work Life

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

We have all had experiences with people who have tricky personalities, huge egos, toxic energy or challenging communication styles.  Unless you work in a vacuum, you are going to come across a difficult boss, colleague, vendor or client.    

Some of these situations are serious and require extreme measures.  Years ago, I had a job I enjoyed until I got a new boss who was never satisfied with my efforts.  After months of demoralizing interactions that caused me much stress, the final straw occurred when she told me that I looked "like sh*t.”  I was dressed my best and heading out to a client company to give a big presentation (I was also six months pregnant...)  I looked at her in disbelief and said, “Wow, that was not very constructive feedback, and I’m really not okay with you talking to me like that.”  She made a face and shrugged...

Family Life

Create Your Ideal Work/Life Balance: Nobody Else Will

American culture does not promote work/life balance, especially in this age of being plugged into technology 24/7.  The norm seems to be an endless run on “the gerbil wheel of life”---a never ending cycle of responsibilities at work and home.  Leisure activities like hobbies and self-care practices such as exercise are often moved to the bottom of the priority list--frequently tended to very little or not at all.

A few years ago, a lovely French woman sought therapy with me.  Her presenting issue?  The stress of the American culture, which leaves little time for rest or relaxation.  Was this woman simply lazy or underachieving?  No.  She was a doctoral-level professor and published author who was ambitious and hard working. I worked with her on creating work/life balance, something she never had to do in a European culture that embraces more time for holidays, siestas, connecting with friends and mindfully appreciating the pleasures of the senses through food, art and music.

I was reminded of my own experience about 10 years earlier, when I sought career counseling.  I was working as a therapist in private practice, but dreamed of creating a larger, group practice.  My husband and I also wanted to start a family and I was confused about how to achieve both my personal and professional dreams.  My counselor,


Change Your Thinking to Have More Money

One of the greatest blessings of being a therapist is access to the wisdom of your clients and their experiences.  After almost 20 years of counseling professionals, one of the most interesting correlations I have noticed is that when people feel better about themselves, their income goes up. 

Early on in my practice, I observed that as clients progressed in therapy, they reported higher earnings and a better relationship with money.  This was a surprising bonus, because the work we were doing in therapy was aimed at other goals, such as improving self-esteem, setting healthy boundaries and using assertive communication.

Since that time, I have done a tremendous amount of reflection about the psychology of money and have arrived at the following conclusions:

We learn our relationships with money from our family-of-origin's values and experiences. 
We all unconsciously recreate what is familiar to us in terms of spending and saving patterns. 
If we do not feel worthy, we will push money away.