Reflexivity at heart of cultural change

Today the FT published a story titled “Sexual harassment and bullying rife in legal profession”.  At the heart of the story is a survey by the International Bar Association that also shows workplace training is having little or no effect on the problem.

I’ve absolutely no doubt most law firms condemn this behaviour; that the leaders of those businesses believe it should be stopped. I’m also sure they’ve backed all sorts of initiatives designed to tackle it.  But it seems to me this could be little more than well-presented lip service; easy to do, but ineffective.  Reflecting, taking stock, and owning up to the reality of our own behaviour and its impact is not.

A reflexive person is someone who takes time to reflect openly and honestly on their beliefs, values and actions and put what they learn into practice.  A reflexive team is similarly powerful.

Reflexivity is at the heart of what I do as a counselling psychotherapist.  Reflecting on my feelings and behaviour is incredibly important.  I need to spot, own and learn from the moments when I get something right as well as the ones when I get it wrong.  I need to recognise when my actions are a result of my history, not the ‘in the moment’ interaction.

A reflexive culture in the business world fosters creativity and innovation.  It will reveal the reality of actions versus words and the ‘hidden truths’, be they good or bad.  And it will encourage change, when change is necessary.

You can’t have a reflexive culture, if you haven’t got reflexive leaders.  For people used to making and committing to decisions and then taking responsibility, this can be difficult.  But it’s essential.  My advice is to find a ‘safe’ space, put down your defences and challenge yourself.

Then you can start to look at the business.  Step on is to get the ground rules right.  These include:

1.   Everyone deserves respect.

2.   Everyone’s experience is valid.

3.   Everyone has something to say.

4.   Everyone is worth listening to.

5.   Everyone needs to listen attentively.

6.   No one is always right.

7.   No one is always wrong.

Then ask the right questions.  These include:

1.   What’s happening?

2.   How do I/we experience it?

3.   What’s working? What’s not? Why?

4.   What’s particularly challenging?  Why?

5.   What gets in the way?  Why?

6.   What am I / are we really proud of?

7.   What helps?  Why?

8.   What have I learnt?

9.   What have we all learnt?

10.How will I/we use what I’ve/we’ve learnt in the future?

Contact me if you want to find out more about becoming reflexive.

About the author

I have the unusual combination of psychotherapeutic training and nearly 30 years in PR and communication.  My qualifications in include a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy.  I am currently completing an MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy.

I work in private practice in Kenilworth supporting clients as they tackling issues including stress, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties and trauma.

As a PR and communication specialist, my track record spans SMEs to global businesses in sectors as varied as professional services, engineering, transport, education and gardening.

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure.  It’s a mantra we all know well.

In health care it conjures up behaviours like healthy eating, staying active and limiting alcohol intake, and includes participation in screening and vaccination programmes.  With the right information and support, people can take very practical steps to improve their physical wellbeing.

As World Mental Health Day (10 October) approaches, it’s worth remembering the same is true for our mental health.  With the younger members of the Royal Family focusing their energies on mental health and more and more celebrities sharing their personal experiences, the taboo surrounding the subject is falling away.

But what do we mean by mental wellbeing.  A bone is either broken or not, but this black and white approach does not work when it comes to mental health. There is a continuum along which most of us move depending on our circumstances and the stage we are at in life.  At our best we are spontaneous, creative.  We can make the most of our potential and cope with the day-to-day ups and downs of life.  Comfortable with who we are, we’re able to build and actively participate in intimate, nurturing relationships with partners, family and friends.  We may be knocked by big life events but bounce back relatively quickly, particularly with the right support network in place. At our worst, depression or anxiety, for example, may make it utterly impossible for us to engage with people around us.  And when something challenges us, we get weighed down, unable able to recover.

But just as losing weight and cutting back on processed foods can reduce the risk of Diabetes, so there are practical steps we can take to protect our mental wellbeing and increase our resilience.  They range from things as seemingly simple and obvious as making sure we get enough regenerative sleep every night to creating a very personal Emotional Tool Box*.

On Saturday 3 November, I am running a workshop with Hayley Tait – Your Wellbeing Matters: it’s time to restore the balance – in Knowle, Solihull.  Hayley and I combine psychotherapeutic training with careers in healthcare and corporate communications respectively.  We designed the workshop specifically for women who, faced with many demands and responsibilities in life, feel worn down. During the workshop, you will have the support and space you need to participate as fully as you feel able.

Remember, prevention is better than cure.  Click on the link here and book your place on the workshop now.


*Elinor Greenberg, 2016

We can talk about more than just ‘women’s stuff’!

I read an article recently in which a collection of female business people had been brought together to talk about the barriers women face in developing their career.

The issues are complex. They cover everything from ‘clubs’, golf days, and networks that, without really thinking about, it pick people like themselves, to overt sexism.

They are influenced by deeply ingrained cultural factors, which we don’t even notice most of the time and, if we do, we certainly don’t want to rock the boat by talking about them.

These include the very strongly held belief that men are good at hard logical things and women are better at softer emotional issues. If there’s truth in this, it’s down to cultural training – there is plenty of evidence that the differences amongst men and amongst women are far greater than the difference between men and women!

So instead of gathering women together to talk about ‘women’s stuff’ wouldn’t it have been brilliant if this group of female leaders had been asked for their opinions and insights on the productivity puzzle, the role of AI in our future, or creative ways to tackle the skills shortage.

A group of talented, informed women being brought together to debate a hard issue … that really would produce some great copy!