Tag Archives: Relationship

Workplace Confict II: Addressing the Problem

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This article is the second in our workplace conflict series. It outlines effective assertion skills that you can use to address problematic behaviour by co-workers, which can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, and interfere with your ability to do your job. The previous article can help you determine whether asserting yourself is appropriate in a given situation.

There are three rules of thumb to keep in mind when crafting an effective assertion. The first is clarity. Conflict thrives on misunderstanding. Therefore, stick to the situation in question, and do not embellish the details! Give the other person as close of a play-by-play of the situation as possible to minimize room for interpretation.

Next comes the “I statement”. Notice the difference between “when you interrupted me I felt irritated” and “it was very rude of you to interrupt me”. You are the sole expert on your feelings, but it’s very difficult to accurately pinpoint where another person is coming from. So keep your comments about you to ensure that your assertion doesn’t inadvertently put the other person on the defensive.

Thirdly, you want the other person to know how their behaviour has impacted you. This shows them that there are reasonable grounds for your response, and reminds them that there are consequences to their actions. Drawing on the above example, our complete assertion looks like this “when you interrupted me I felt irritated because I didn’t have an opportunity to get my main point across.”

The example we’re using here is a pretty basic one. If you’re dealing with more complex situations, it’s a good idea to also approach the conversation equipped with a possible solution. But just as you are hoping the other person will be open to seeing the situation from your point of view, be prepared to do the same for them if they come up with an alternative solution that seems like a step in the right direction. That said, know what you are and are not willing to compromise. And if an effective solution can’t be reached, don’t be afraid to let the other person know that you will be addressing the matter with your manager.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be handling workplace conflict like a pro in no time!

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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How to Make a GREAT First Impression

Handshake“First impressions are everything!”

We’ve all heard this, and although it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does hit the point that first impressions have a lasting effect on relationships, regardless of their type. We tend to make up our mind about someone within the first 15 seconds of meeting them, meaning how we initially present ourselves can be crucial. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re going on a first date or a job interview.

Be aware of yourself.

In first meetings our anxiety can to take over and we can lose ourselves, sometimes not even remembering what we said. Stop and take a breath. Be aware of your body and speech. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and avoid jittering. Also, be sure you’re not talking too fast. Be calm and make eye contact, both of which will radiate confidence.

Don’t forget to ask questions. People love talking about themselves, but remember that this is an opportunity to not only to present yourself, but also to get to know someone else. If at a job interview, make sure you have read up on the company, and have a couple questions ready. Being inquisitive will show initiative.

Be your best self.

A first encounter is an opportunity to put your best self forward and show off what you are, rather than lying or covering up what you’re not. It is all about putting your best foot forward. This is where dressing well plays a role. Dress for the job you want. If you think you shouldn’t wear it, you probably shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that mood is temporary. So if you are in a bad one, it would be best to set it aside and allow for your best self to shine through!

Remember to relax.

Who knows you better than you? A positive first impression is perfectly attainable if you remember that there is no need to be nervous! At the end of the day you are presenting yourself and you are an expert on you. And if you can’t quiet the butterflies, use them! They just mean that you care about the result, which shows you that you’re in the right place. Just prepare the main points you would like to talk about, and stay cool, calm and collected. If you do feel like you may have been less of yourself, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it! We all have off days, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first impression seems to be a bit out of your norm.

First impressions are important, but they are not everything.

5 Signs You’re Dating a Psychopath

Dating a psychopath is more likely than you think!

About 1% of the population suffers from psychopathy, meaning in a town of about 100,000 people, 1000 are psychopaths. It is important to mention that psychopathy is a personality disorder made up of specific characteristics and can only be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. But even if you’re not dating a psychopath per se, these are some traits to be weary about in a partner.

Extremely Charming and Over the Top

A Psychopath will shower you with gifts and compliments, and make you like you’re the only one in the world. Being extremely charming is good way of getting people to fall in love with you, and this characteristic is also what enable a psychopath to control or manipulate you.

Manipulative

Psychopaths tend to be able to get their way. They turn their ideas into your ideas in such a subtle way that you have no idea that it has happened. Ever confronted your partner about something they did to upset you, but you end up being the one apologizing? This may be a sign you’re dating a psychopath.

No Sense of Responsibility

Pyschopaths tend to deny responsibility for their actions. They end up blaming you, saying that your actions lead to them to acting they way they did. And they honestly believe that they did nothing wrong due to lack of remorse.

Risky Behaviour

Psychopaths can’t grasp the idea of punishment and this will lead to doing things that puts them and you at risk. This can be dangerous behaviour, promiscuity, cheating, drugs, and so on. Definitely behaviours you should avoid!

Big Ego

Most psychopaths have a sense of grandeur. Your needs come second because actually believe that you are less important. You are there to serve their needs. As long as you are doing that, why would the person put any effort into helping you grow as an individual?

All of these are some tell tale signs that you could be dating a psychopath. But don’t take my work for it! Listen to Kim!

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5 Tips to Help Deal with Sassy Kids

kids-on-grass-2It seems to be that there comes a time in every child’s life when they transition from a cute and loving child, to a snarky and sassy tween or teen.  In this phase, kids go from good-natured to short-tempered, accommodating to resisting, happy to hold your hand to embarrassed to even be seen with you.

 

Let the eye-rolling begin.

Some parents roll with this change with remarkable good humour and grace; the rest of us may end up resorting to less-than-helpful responses to our kids.  If you think you may fall into that second category, here are five tips for getting your relationship back onto a better path.

1. Take a deep breath and don’t take it personally. 

Yes, it’s true that sometimes our kids can find just the right thing to say to cut us to the quick.  But they’re not necessarily trying to wound us that deeply, they’re often just trying out different ways of relating to others and seeing which ones give them a feeling of control and confidence.  It’s ok to respond calmly with something like, “That was very disrespectful.  I don’t like being spoken to that way, and I’m going to leave the room until we can agree that we’ll speak to each other more pleasantly.”

2. Harness the power of role modelling. 

As much as parents like to joke about the “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, children don’t tend to see the humour in it.  While there’s no doubt they can quite effectively push our buttons, a part of them is watching us to see how we’ll handle it.  Our kids look to us to learn how to behave in the world, and if we respond to them with anger, or an attempt at control by trying to put them in their place, then they learn that this is an effective way of responding to someone who is upsetting them.  While it might not seem like it in the moment, continuing to model respectful behavior towards our kids (and ourselves) does give them a blueprint for how to stand up for themselves appropriately and how to navigate difficult conversations.

3. Take a time out. 

We often get into the habit of believing that every parenting issue must be dealt with immediately.  But the reality is that sometimes we all need space to cool down, before we can get a real handle on the situation and think about the big picture.  It’s ok to tell your children, “We’ll talk about this later,” and then follow through and do it.

4. Catch them being good. 

You may have heard this phrase before; it’s something of a staple in parenting.  If we catch more flies with honey, than we want to be on the look-out for opportunities to acknowledge and appreciate those times when our kids express themselves assertively while still being respectful.  They don’t have to be talking to you; if you happen to overhear a conversation between two of your children, or one of your kids and a friend, it’s ok to pull your child aside later and quietly let them know that you thought she handled herself very well in that difficult situation.

5. Keep a healthy perspective.

While you may worry that the attitude demonstrated at home may be transported out there into the world at large, you can breathe easy knowing that it typically isn’t the case.  Kids generally reserve their worst behavior for family (lucky us), and they have a pretty good idea of what would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable with friends and other adults.

These little moments may not be the best part of parenting, but hang in there.  Keep in mind that a strong relationship is your best insurance against the dismissive and disrespectful attitude from our children, so don’t lose touch with them.  Find opportunities to chat and share, create little moments of connection, and soon the scales will start to tip in the other direction.

 By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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3 Ways To Communicate In A More Meaningful Way

Speech-Bublé2We are all constantly told that communication is key when it comes to any type of relationship or human interaction. And that’s true! How can we better communicate in our daily lives and make our words genuine? Sometimes it just means taking a few extra steps with respect to how we express ourselves.

1. Elaborate on your thankfulness

Instead of just saying thank you, say:

“Thank you, that means a lot to me”

“Thank you, I really appreciate help..”

“I am very thankful that you are doing ___”

Gives your thank you a bit of an extra punch and helps communicate that you are really thankful and why you are really thankful.

2. Express how you feel in the moment even if it seems obvious

It’s important to express how you feel when speaking to others because even though your feelings might be clear to you they may not be clear to others. We can’t assume that others know what we are feeling and thinking if we do not express ourselves clearly. People can be very intuitive but they are not mind readers. This is especially true in romantic relationships where there might be some differences in how men and women choose to express their emotions.

3. Learn what not to say

To make your words more meaningful and important, examine what you say. We express what we value in our words and if our speech is frequently full of nonconstructive negativity, criticism, insensitivity and empty or trivial words we will probably push friends away and maybe attract “like-spoken” people. Try to keep your thoughts balanced so that your words will be positive, genuine and important.

By: Danielle Taylor

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Surviving a Quarter Life Crisis

2009-09-cover-puzzle_tcm7-84442The first years of adulthood or “real life” is often a time of excitement and thrill. We are trying to become established and individuated. We are making big life decisions. We are out on our own for the first time. These are supposedly the best years of our lives, but what often gets overlooked is just how difficult this period of time can be for a lot of people. Alongside the thrill and excitement are often feelings of inadequacy, confusion, and anxiety as we move through the transitory phase. Rest assured, if you feel this way you are not alone. Many twenty and thirty-somethings will face this quarter-life crisis where there is a seeming disconnect between what is happening in our lives and what we want to be happening in our lives. Here are some tips to help survive this transitory phase:

Create Your Own Path and Stop Comparing Your Life to Other People

We develop ideas about the type of relationships we have, the stage of our career we should be in, and the commitments we should make based on societal pressure and norms that have been developed in our family and social circles. It may seem that everyone around you is excelling in their career, falling in love, and utterly satisfied with their lives but that doesn’t mean you need to be in the same place. If these are goals that you have then by all means strive for them, but try not to let the accomplishments of others be injurious to your own self-esteem. Life is not a competition. It’s okay to feel unsettled and unclear on what you want. Clarify your own hopes, dreams, and needs. Decide what will make YOU happy, and go for it.

Set Goals and Make and Action Plan

Set goals for yourself relating to all areas of your life (career, personal, relationships, etc.) and break them down into specific ambitions for short, medium, and long term (think – 1, 5, 10 years from now). Ask yourself what specific actions need to be taken in order to reach each goal. By making small sub-goals you can make things manageable and stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Creating an action plan will make you feel proactive in control, and accomplished. BUT…

Don’t Get TOO Caught up On a Timeline

We face a lot of pressure to accomplish things in our lives within a certain time frame and when we miss that “deadline” we are left feeling like we have somehow failed. We need to make plans for the future in order to stay motivated and excited about our lives but it’s important not to get too focused on time. You may have decided that you want to be set in your career, own a home, and be married by the time you’re 30, but if you’re too rigid in that timeline you’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way. Or worse, you may make decisions that are consistent with the timeline but not necessarily consistent with what truly makes you happy in life. Draft a personal and reasonable timeline for the goals that you have but be flexible if you encounter bumps it the road. You don’t need to have your whole life figured out by the time you’re 30 (and in all honesty, you probably won’t). Things will happen as they are meant to happen.

Talk it Out

It’s common to feel alone during this transition phase of your life so make use of the connections you have to other people. Opening up to friends, family, or a mentor about your struggles and you may find they’ve experienced similar crises in their lives.  It’s okay to have doubts or be dissatisfied with this period of your life. But it’s important to figure out what isn’t working for you in order to make positive changes in your life. Sharing your problems with others may lead to a wealth of advice and support in a time where guidance can be paramount to success. If you’re feeling really lost, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist to help you establish what you want out of life.

Define Success in Your Own Terms

Many of us have come to equate success with status and money. Instead of letting that be the sole definer of success, think about all the ways you can measure your own success. Perhaps it’s the feedback you receive from peers and colleagues, the difference you make in the lives of others, or the fact that you live a well-balanced life. Your definition of success should be reflective of all of your values rather than just financial gains. Acknowledge all of your achievements, past and present, to remember you have a number of things to be proud of.

By: Catherine Kamel

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Psychotherapist Discusses Fifty Shades Of Grey Concerns On CityNews

Our own Carol Anne Austin was interviewed on City News about the concerns surrounding the movie 50 Shades of Grey. One concern is that it may normalize abuse in relationships. Carol Anne explained that this movie may be perpetuating some cultural scripts around some traditional gender roles and that different standards for what might be appropriate sexually for men and women can lead to harmful outcomes.

In addition, the dominance theme is one of the concerns, especially given that some young women viewing this movie may not be sexually experienced. Carol Anne spoke about the importance of having these discussions with our family, with youth and with our children. She explained that the pairing of sex and violence in media is very rampant and that it is important to have discussions around this to make sure we are watching media with a critical eye.

It can be uncomfortable for parents to have these sexual discussions with their teens and Carol Anne discussed that it’s okay for parents to share that sentiment with their teens. Also, parents can seek the help of a teacher, guidance counselor, sex educator or sex therapist if they feel it is outside their comfort zone.

Another concern about 50 Shades of Grey is that this movie may blur the lines of consent. Carol Anne explained that this film is depicting BDSM and it can be great to play around with power in our sexual relationships but we need to make sure to establish explicit consent about this ahead of time. Yes needs to mean yes. Just because we consent to one sexual act doesn’t mean that we consent to other acts down the line. Especially when we want to play with power or pain in our sexual acts we need to make sure everything is explicitly discussed ahead of time and that no one is surprised.

 

3 Ways To Lessen Your Anxiety About Your New Relationship

Toronto Psychologist Healthy RelaitonshipsYou are in a new relationship. It’s magical yet unpredictable. Things seem to be going great but you may not always know what tomorrow might bring. You may have some concerning thoughts. Is trust a problem? Will the spark fizzle out in a few more months? Will your partner commit to you forever? Do you want to marry this person?

There are countless reasons why a person might be feeling anxiety in his/her relationship. However, anxiety early in a relationship often stems from issues such as commitment and trust.

It will probably be helpful to have a meeting with yourself to examine the source of your anxiety and think about the meaning of your nervousness.

It is very normal to experience some anxiety and worry during the early part of your romantic relationship. In a way, it’s a good sign. It means that your relationship is meaningful to you and that you are allowing yourself to experience some vulnerability. However, it can be uncomfortable and unhealthy to experience too much anxiety so here are three ways to bring more calm to your exciting romantic experience:

1. Examine your partner’s actions

You might feel as if you want your relationship verbally validated very regularly. However, depending on the person, this may not happen as often as you would like. Instead, look at other ways your partner tells you that he/she wants to be in the relationship. There are many ways of expressing affection other than through words and these ways can be even more powerful. Recognize the small things your partner does for you. Basically, if a person wants to be in your life, he/she will make the effort to stay there.

2. Communicate

If a relationship is starting to feel too all over the place and causing you stress, it might be time to sit down with your partner to discuss your relationship. Gently inquire where your partner’s thoughts and feelings are at and check to see if you are both on the same page. This type of conversation might be best down in a private and relaxed setting when it is an appropriate time for both of you.

3. Try to develop balanced thoughts about your relationship

The harsh reality is that many relationships end. Therefore, it might be important to value your relationship for what it is now and recognize its importance even if it will end one day. Try to remember that even if you feel a relationship ended in failure it is still a valuable lesson for the future. Remind yourself that even though you might be very sad if your relationship does not work out, you will be able to recover and move on. Empowering yourself with balanced thinking allows you to have more control over your thoughts and emotions. When you have more control over your thoughts and emotions it may help you feel more control over your anxiety about your relationship.

In the end, it is always a leap of faith!

Best of luck with your relationship! 🙂

By: Danielle Taylor

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Emotional Sunburns

purple-beach-sun-setWhat is an emotional sunburn?

Think about your last trip to sunny Miami!

There, you are soaking in the sun, partying and having the time of your life.

Then, you arrive back to cold Toronto with a painful and blistering sunburn only to have to cover up in layers, long pants, turtlenecks, extra sweaters, boots and long down filled coats.

Your friend greets you at the airport and in his excitement to greet you after your trip, he gives you a big bear hug. Ouch!!!

Not realizing that you have a sunburn on every part of your body, you scream and push him away.

What did he do? How does he feel? How do you feel?

He had no intention of hurting you and did not realize what was covered up underneath your bulky winter clothing. Yet his hug still caused you to scream and pushed him away.

Most people are walking around weighed down with their emotional sunburns. These are individual areas of sensitivity. They are our bruises from our past. They come from past negative experiences; experiences with our family, friends, and lovers.

Many people do a great job of covering their bruises up. Often, no one can see them on the outside and no one knows about them except for you. Sometimes you may not even realize how the past is affecting you in the present.

Your partner doesn’t know about all your emotional sunburns and how they are affecting you today. Next time you have a strong emotional reaction of anger, sadness, anxiety or any powerful feeling to a situation that doesn’t seem to warrant it, take some time to question your reaction and determine if your response is triggered by the present situation or perhaps if it is triggered by a past experience or relationship. Stop and think of the reasons pushing your reactions and identify your emotional sunburns.

If your current relationship is healthy, strong and safe, start sharing your experiences with your partner and work together to help to see how your past is affecting your current relationship. Your partner can become more sensitive to your reactions and you will begin to realize that what happened in the past in not reoccurring again in the present and slowly you will be able to let it go.

Keep in mind emotional sunburns are more painful than your bad burn at the beach last summer!

If you are experiencing an emotional sunburn, especially one that isn’t healing, you may want to invest in working with a therapist to help identify and work though these past hurts. This might enable you to live with renewed emotional equilibrium, without being pulled back into the past.

By: Ilana Brown

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