Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I hear this plaintive cry from executives and middle managers all the time. I hear it from superintendents to elementary school teachers for at least ten months out of the year.

Getting along is what we all want. Right? So, why does it seem almost impossible to get through even a few days without feeling that blood boiling moment of “Not THAT again!” or “Can’t they just zip it?”

I would like to boil this down to some basics for you to think about.

Relationships are hard work.

You can’t learn how to be your best you by reading something that gives you 5 quick tips for happiness.

It’s just not that simple.

Here are some ideas to think about and please, if you have questions or comments, the first ten people who respond will get a copy of my e-book, Five Leadership Lessons.

Ideas to ponder: Few things seem more different than the worlds of work and home. We talk about “work-life balance” as if work and life were chunks of matter on opposite sides of a balance scale.

Some of us take refuge at work because it’s easier than dealing with family issues. Others can’t wait to get home where they feel safe and appreciated after a day “on the battle field.”

From the standpoint of relationships, however, work and home are not so different as they seem at first blush. Work teams and families both constitute systems of relationships among individuals. There are, of course, important differences such as the one we all know and talk about, especially when we are annoyed at home. “You can’t choose your family (drat!!),” whereas you may be lucky enough to choose your work team.

Think about it this way for a minute: You can have an “ex-boss” or an “ex-direct report.” You can even have an “ex-spouse.” However, sorry to report for those of you who have parents who really bother you, you can’t have an “ex-mother” or an “ex-father.” You can only have parents you don’t see very often, or at all.

Families and work groups are structurally similar, and the day-to-day workings of these groups are pretty much the same. Our task in each area is to become more autonomous, to become more capable, to, let’s say it clearly, to become more of an adult.

Ah, what that means, to be an adult in more than just chronological age, is the challenge for everyone and it continues all the time.

We go to school and we can gain knowledge. Where and how do we grow up to learn to be wise?

I hate to be the bearer of the next sentence: it all begins with the family.

That is where you first learned how to exist in relation to others, our original organization.

If you want to get a handle on the part of your behavior you are not super aware of, take the pattern aware quiz and learn about the role you played in the family and may still be playing at work. One point when you take the quiz: It’s weighted to get underneath your analytical thinking and there may be questions you think you would not answer the way they are phrased. Just go ahead and pick the first one you would answer if you simply HAD to answer.

I promise it will give you a clear direction when you find the pattern that shows up as one that I call, sticky, that in essence has your name on it.

Like the woman who called us with a major upset that she was put in the wrong category, her top pattern was as an avoider. She was angry. When asked when she took the test her response revealed it all “I did it about 3 months ago and was just not ready to call you and complain.” BINGO!

Learn about who you are and where you need to grow beyond where you are. It takes some time, not years, just some time, to see the connection between home and work.

You will be the better for it at both places.

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options

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