Victims, Villains and Heroes
Managing Emotions in the Workplace
Why Read Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace?
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
Just finished reading Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace and I needed to tell you that you are right on the money. If business America would only read this book, we would have fewer problems in the workplace. Your insight in bringing the teachings of Loy Young and your own experience cannot help but ease the problems that individuals have, not only in the workplace, but also in their personal lives.
Good work and my congratulations!
Ken Varga, President
Professional Buyers Guild
Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace has contributed a valuable piece to my education in relationships, which are the core of my business (and yours!). The old dramas I used to unwittingly play took about
Bobbie Jones, trainer and consultant for IBM, Advanced Microdevices, Samsung, and many US clients
Excellent…excellent…I have just finished reading the new book Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace …congratulations to both you and Don!!
I’m going to recommend it to all my clients.
I just want to write a quick note of thanks. I can’t tell you enough how going to your seminar last week has impacted my life. The ideas you talked about, I have been repeating on a regular daily basis. I have drawn the blame/justify/lie/responsibility picture four or five times to great effect. The 80/20/40 image of managing energy has been particularly useful personally. And last but definitely not least, the parallels of using your ideas in my home life has been amazing! Without going into all the details, let’s just say that my husband and I have actually been really communicating since the Friday seminar!
RM Automation Systems (Knowledge Acquisition, Assessment and Automated Verification)
Publisher: The Aquarius House Press in cooperation with donphin.com, inc.
Editor: Kathryn Hall
Graphic Designer: Francine Dufour
Copyright 2002, 2003 Loy Young and Donald Phin. All rights reserved.
Reproduction and translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the United States Copyright Act without the permission of the copyright owner is unlawful.
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ISBN E-Book: 1-882888-59-6
ISBN CD-ROM: 1-882888-60-X
ISBN paperback: 1-882888-61-8
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This book is dedicated to all the people who go to work every day.
May the wisdom contained in this book
I have been studying, learning and doing my best to apply the best business relationship practices available throughout the years. I began to unravel my own plot around business relationships by reading Loy Young’s book The Plot: Dealing with Feelings and working very closely with Loy as I went through the completion of my business partnership. I discovered how deeply all of us are involved in The Plot that we create in order to succeed in business.
Once we begin to discover the dimensions of The Plot, it begins to be easier and easier to see others in it-and ultimately to catch our own selves in it. What a shock to see how attached we are to being victims, how much we want to be the hero to others but abandon ourselves in order to save them, and how easily we can become the villain when we feel hurt and wronged.
Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace is one of the most powerful books you’ll ever read, and the distinctions will forever make a difference in the way that you relate to people in both personal and business relationships. I wish I had this technology when I first began in business. Understanding The Plot has made such a difference in my life, in that of my partners and associates, and all those who will read this book.
The power of this work was so obvious to us that we implemented the basic teaching in our business programs. Loy is one of the favorite instructors at our Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs. Her business relationship technology supports and helps many to have more profitable relationships and thus make more money.
I met Don Phin as a student in the Money and You program presented by Excellerated Business Schools. I was immediately struck by his focus, pragmatism, love and compassion. Don is the prototype of the new professional for the 21st Century. He understands that his professional success, as well as those around him, has as much to do with people’s feelings as it does about his technical skills or anything else.
Don’s unique ability to bridge various disciplines and take a common-sense approach towards workplace relationships is destined to make a significant contribution to the risk management and compliance industry. We are blessed to have Don working with Loy to coauthor
This information is global. Every human being, no matter what race, religion, background, sex or relationship status can benefit from this technology. This is about how we have a tendency to take up other’s space and don’t allow them to express themselves, to be and to grow around us. This is about how we can shrink around certain energies and personalities and not express ourselves fully. This is about becoming a more powerful, clear and loving business person.
I wish you great success in feeling your way out of The Plot.
Excellerated Business Schools
“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts”
Shakespeare’s famous lines very aptly describe our emotional nature that fuels all our actions. All of us are actors in a never-ending drama. Drama, be it tragedy or comedy, is what our feelings thrive on
Unfortunately, no amount of logic, facts, or figures can ever change feelings. That is why rational reasoning can never assist you in overcoming any problems of an emotional nature. Emotions need action, drama, and stories to learn from and to change.
The goal of this book is to give you powerful references to help identify your emotions and their interplay with relationship scenarios surrounding you at work every day. This book isn’t about what you’re thinking while at work. It’s about what you are feeling and how that affects how you think and what you do.
Loy Young has worked as a relationship teacher and counselor for over thirty years. She has worked with people on six different continents from all walks of life-from cosmopolitan jet-setters to rural villagers-and different cultural backgrounds and religions. Beyond the apparent differences she found that the common denominator among all people is that they all shared the same basic feelings.
Eventually, Loy came to trust that the thousands of tales she listened to over the years were just variations of one basic and simple theme. Finally she started to categorize situations until she could predict the ending of a story after having listened to only a fragment thereof.
Loy is the author of several books including The Plot: Dealing with Feelings. Her latest book is as co-author of She Never Said Goodbye, a true story of a woman suffering with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Don Phin has been an employment law attorney since 1983. Loy calls him a “street-wise hero.” Don is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant. He is President of the Employer Advisors Network, Inc. and designed the HR That Works! series of personnel management and compliance products. He is President of the Employer Advisors Network, Inc. and the author of numerous books and articles including LAWSUIT FREE! How to Prevent Employee Lawsuits and Building Powerful Employment Relationships! Don believes compliance struggles simply mirror the difficulty we have in establishing any relationship. Including the one with ourselves. This is what Don said about his introduction to Loy and The Plot.
“A number of years ago I turned 40. Like many baby boomers I began questioning whether there was something better or different I should be doing with my life. I realized the work I did as an employment lawyer not only failed to meet my personal expectations, but also challenged me into asking if I was really ‘making a difference’ – two questions being asked by many people today. I realized my search for fulfillment would be as much about personal growth as it would be about what I ended up ‘doing’ with my life. Understanding The Plot has had an immense impact on my relationships, professional success and serenity.
Together, through their work on this book, Loy and Don seek to integrate their disciplines to help produce successful careers and workplace relations.
In this book, Loy and Don are going to share with you many of their clients’ stories. To respect the privacy of people who have trusted them on their journeys, they have carefully changed and mixed names, locations and any other details that might divulge their identity. Sometimes the characters in the stories are composites of several peoples’ identities, to further ensure privacy.
Note that throughout the book Loy and Don speak with a collective voice. Sometimes that voice is in the first person, sometimes it’s “we.” Also note that “he” and “she” are often used interchangeably.
For the readers of The Plot: Dealing with Feelings, you will find some familiar text. This is no accident, as most readers of this book have not read The Plot: Dealing with Feelings. Hopefully they will be encouraged to do so.
Emotions keep all of us playing the same old roles again and again like a broken record. Often the scenarios are all too familiar, but as we usually keep finding a new casts of characters, we stay unconscious of these facts.
The more familiar the script, the more it appeals to our emotions. Why, you might ask? The task of our emotional nature is to express our feelings in such a way that everyone can identify the role we are playing. Whether at work or home, all of us act out our emotional dramas using just three character roles.
And so the book begins…
The popular emotional plot that people rave about and flock to star in is the well-known Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. Go back as far as you want to the first written or spoken words, and you’ll detect this plot carefully recorded. Look at the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pali language spoken by Gautama Buddha, the Bible, the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Koran, the writings of Confucius, Zoroastrian literature, even caveman drawings. This show has been the number one play of the season for the last few millennia!
Have a good look at any Hollywood movie, television show, Broadway play, or novel of the last few centuries. Don’t take our word for it.
The struggle between good and evil is the underlying theme of any drama, even of the ancient tales that are passed down orally in temples from teachers to selected students. Whatever the country, whatever the words, the most archaic and the most advanced teachings deal with warding off and defeating evil. And this drama is what our emotional self lives for and is willing to die for.
The negative element is part and parcel of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. Hate and destruction are not the exclusive domain of Steven Spielberg. They take their toll in broken marriages, criminal acts, and workplace conflict. The negative energy of this ancient theatrical school for our emotions fills our courtrooms and drives people to therapy sessions, drinking, drugs, and ruin.
In the first section of the book you will find The Plot with its starring roles. We will learn about victims, villains, and heroes.
In the second section we will share how the interplay of roles and emotional energy affect our relationships at work and in our personal lives.
In the third section we share how all of us communicate with emotional energy whether we know it or not. We will learn the 80/20 of communication and how to create “safe places.”
In the final section we share examples from clients who have learned about The Plot and used this knowledge to become heroes in their working lives.
Many of you I’m sure would like to be more conscious participants in life in order to understand and acknowledge your emotions. In this book you’ll learn how to deal with your feelings in a way that you can be proud.
Life resembles the movie Ground Hog Day, starring Bill Murray, in which he kept repeating the same day over and over until he got it right. That’s us. We keep playing the same act again and again and if our co-actors lose their emotional zest to play with us, there’s always another actor or actress waiting in the wings to take their place.
The script isn’t just performed on the silver screen, it is acted out every day, in every workplace. It is the manner in which each of us deals with our relationships. Whatever workplace you venture in to, you will find the same plot being played out wherever two or more people get together, be it in the sleek boardroom, in front of a dusty conveyor belt, or at the project management meeting.
The script of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil features three starring roles, the villain who abuses the victim, the victim who is saved by the hero, and the hero who defeats the villain. Every person’s emotions are always auditioning for one of these three roles. Remember, our emotional nature is the actor or actress whose objective is to express his or her feelings.
Relationships are arguably our favorite emotional game, but our true feelings are skillfully hidden from the scrutiny of the brain. We act out the play blindly every day of our lives with our loved ones, with co-workers, and even with ourselves when we are alone.
It’s through interaction with others that our whole range of feelings from ecstasy to despair gets to be expressed. How well we act out our feelings determines whether we receive applause or end up with eggs dripping from our faces.
After the curtain comes down however, The Plot gives us no rest, and we’re back on stage in no time at all. This book puts a spotlight on the three roles you have mastered and play with other men and women every moment of your life, including at work. You will become aware of your entire repertoire and everyone else’s. Although your emotions will keep you on the world’s stage, you may well want to choose your entrances and exits more carefully if you want to be happy.
No Agatha Christie mystery, no John Grisham legal drama, and no workplace conflict can do without a victim, the first star in Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. Ironically, this is by far the preferred role of the emotions, especially in a conflict, as it allows for the greatest drama. The pain, grief, and suffering the victim endures can be so heart-wrenchingly and blood-drippingly dramatic.
All of us have auditioned for this role more than once in our lives; and no wonder. It’s such a seductive role. Through the hurt and suffering we endure as victims we tap into our seductive, tender sensuality that makes the agony worthwhile.
Usually people come to us after a major crisis leaves them devastated, for instance when they have been abandoned by their partner or get fired from that ever so important job. Hardcore victims wait until misfortune strikes so many times that even they can’t help noticing that something must be wrong.
Most of us need help with our feelings and our relationships, as we were not taught social skills right along with math or science. This difficulty is compounded in the workplace because inquiry into how people felt was not part of the Command and Control theory of personnel management that dominated the last century. Dealing with feelings is a very complex subject that we are only now beginning to simplify.
Stories and emotions are intertwined. Facts and figures belong to the mental aspect. Scenarios that start in childhood sometimes take years to complete. As long as we are driven by negative energy, spending day and night in a crisis mode, waiting to be duped by someone, we eventually become an emotional basket case and are cut off from our feelings. Liberating ourselves from the pain of our past sufferings is a heart-wrenching enterprise, but worth the effort.
Working with a large number of victims, both chronic and temporary, we found many different impersonations of that role. But we detected one characteristic that was common to all—purity.
Most victims are innocent believers in goodness. No matter what the circumstances or situations, they never heard or saw any evil. Because of their own naïveté, they would buy almost any story. They hung on the words of brilliant and colorful villains, taking their every utterance as gospel while steadfastly ignoring any behavior that belied those eloquent phrases.
Over and over we have seen victims who were naïve to the point of endangering themselves. They would not only spill the beans on all their secrets, but on everyone else’s as well. Victims give their enemies all the ammunition that villains need to abuse them later. It is incomprehensible how victims can detect good intentions in anything that happens to them. They believe life was designed to be “fair” as opposed to an emotional classroom.
Many victims unconsciously encourage and manipulate situations so that they can be believable victims. Forgiveness is a quality that many victims develop along the way. However, forgiveness does not remedy the situation or bring The Plot to an end. Once the curtain comes down on one deluge, the next and more severe catastrophe is already in the making. The actors are only granted a brief breather before performing the victim role one more time, with ever more intense feelings.
For example, we have both had clients with an image in their mind of who they wanted their boss or co-worker to be. When they first meet they project their fantasies on this person and through their relationship remain blinded to much of its reality. What they fail to realize is that feelings, not facts, are the basis of their relationship.
As a result they will ignore, bury or flat out deny conduct considered by most to be unfair, abusive, discriminatory, harassing, etc.
It is this obsession to always believe in goodness that lets the victim’s emotions appear totally naïve. As victims can feel the potential innocence inside the villains, they often ignore the obvious misdeeds that everyone else sees. The victim’s emotional nature trusts that in the end, no matter how long it takes, goodness will triumph.
And while the script of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil determines our emotional education, one day the victim will eventually triumph over a perceived abuser and become the hero.
True victims need help, as life appears to be far too complex for them to figure out on their own. Victims eventually find a way to become heroes, it just takes a long time. Perhaps more than one lifetime.
Feelings initiate the victim role. If your emotional nature is hooked on receiving plenty of drama from playing the victim role, don’t be surprised if no matter what your mind says, your emotions always seek out abusive people with whom you can play your favorite role.
Loy teases her clients that no self-respecting victim would ever be caught with money. That would blow the role. It’s no wonder that many of Don’s clients were quick to blow monies received in a legal contest. Loy helps heroes realize that victims do offer love, gratitude, and devotion instead of money, which makes the hero feel accepted for all the work they do on behalf of their victim clients.
Here are some of the feelings the victim role allows people to access:
While there are those who live life in a chronic victim role, we all go through periods in our lives when we get to play this part—including at work. In our rapidly changing times we begin many new endeavors. We need to realize that anything new usually involves a learning curve. During this period, emotionally we are like new infants who have to learn how to crawl before running.
Like the infant, before we walk we fall down many times as we move from the crawling to the walking stage. Only then are we able to run at the speed we’d like. We’re especially vulnerable during this time, needing a lot of encouragement even if just from ourselves. Otherwise we can become real victims.
Underneath all victims’ pain lies a tenderness just begging to connect in a sweet manner. It is this gentleness and sensuality that makes the victim role worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to feel the heart-wrenching emotions, as these are the rewards:
Every time a victim is saved by a hero, his or her belief in goodness is strengthened. Life is fair. The victim is ready to audition for the role again, as soon as the curtain comes down in the final act.
Have you forgotten how it felt to swoon over your high school sweetheart? The buckets you cried when she moved away? The agony of a math exam you didn’t study for? And the first time you rebelled against your parent’s control? Do you remember? It seems that many of us today are so overwhelmed by the problems and worries of our adult lives that we forget how it felt to be young.
The technique we acquire for dealing with upsets in our childhood usually determines the chronic roles our emotional self chooses later in life.
Let us briefly review some different types of victims and how the role they play may affect them at work.
1. The Submissive Victim
Some parents can be very domineering and only accepting when the child is quiet, sweet, and demure.
As the child matures they often stay in the submissive role, speaking with the voice of a child and seeking out authoritarian people to continue to receive acceptance in the only way they know how.
Until these people grow up emotionally and learn to accept themselves, they will often seek out bosses, supervisors, and other workplace relationships with authoritarian people just like their domineering parents.
They will often put up with harassing and abusive conduct without reporting it to management or anyone else.
2. The Accident-Prone Victim Or Chronically Ill Victim
Some of us are menaces to ourselves and everyone around us. We go from one physical calamity to another. For many of us, this has nothing to do with genetics. It has to do with the fact that as a child we were ignored unless we were the victim of an accident or some kind of illness. Then others would hear us scream and moan for help and rush to save us. It is only until these victims learn to give themselves the attention they crave from others that they can move past this conduct.
Hell has no fury like someone’s emotional nature being ignored. Our feelings are going to be the star of our own play and everyone else’s if possible, be it through sickness, tragedy, or death if need be.
Most people do not like themselves enough to give their emotions the energy they need. Therefore our emotional nature tries to get this attention from another person, by hook or by crook.
Our emotional self has no qualms about devouring others if necessary. Being ignored is emotional rejection, which our emotional natures perceive as unfair. Our feelings detect a villain and the battle for victory begins.
Since we have never been taught relationship skills in school or at work, for most of us, our emotional education was based on the script Goodness Triumphs Over Evil which we observed in our homes, movies, television, and books.
Antagonist versus protagonist. Conflict, conflict, conflict. So where’s the acceptance we all need?
If you’re a person who gets ill when you feel ignored and rejected, you need to learn how to give yourself attention. Don’t show up late to work, or not at all. Don’t fall for villainous methods of sabotaging yourself. Later in the book we’ll go over some nurturing ways to become a caring hero for yourself.
3. The Incest Victim
A startling number of the women who visited Loy for therapy and Don for filing a sexual harassment claim, have been abused as a child. We have also worked with some men who were victimized at an early age, but this percentage is not as high.
Most of these women and men kept their history of incest secret until their adulthood. Many of them closed down their emotions, at least their sensitive and caring emotions, as the consequence of the devastating experience. They hate not only the relatives who robbed them of their positive energy but women or men in general. The consequences in adulthood can be devastating. How these victims react to workplace scenarios can differ 180 degrees.
For example, one woman became an ardent feminist and had head-on collisions with each and every male authority figure in her life. Unfortunately, because of her overriding emotions, she filed a false claim of rape against four men, a rape which by all accounts did not occur. It was not until after deep therapy that she realized she had in fact fabricated the event.
Conversely, we have both represented women who did not know how to say “no.” So low is their self esteem that they cannot bring themselves to blame the other person for inappropriate conduct. Instead they spend their time justifying it, often with excuses such as, “He’s really not that bad,” “I really need this job,” “Hopefully it will just go away,” “Maybe I am overreacting,” etc.
The noise in our head, gifted to us from emotions developed in our past, when not properly dealt with, can be a destructive force in our lives.
4. The Untouched Victim
There are some people who were never hugged or touched while growing up, and to many of them any touch has come to mean foreplay leading to sex. The mind knows the difference, but our emotional nature only knows what it feels. The human body usually acts on those feelings, not on what we think.
For these people personal space can be a real issue. For example, a friendly touch on the shoulder can quickly turn into a harassment claim.
We must be aware that our feelings about personal space may not be shared by our fellow employees.
5. The Battered Victim
One of the most common stage settings for future victims is alcoholic parents. Many a child has suffered brutal beatings that go unspoken. Growing up, the only connection they knew was through physical and emotional pain. That was intimacy to them and that was what they continued to seek out as an adult.
There are many adults who literally need punishment in one form or another in order to feel. And sometimes it is the self-punishment that can be the most devastating. These victims often find themselves bouncing from one job to the next and eventually out of work altogether. Filing a disability claim is the ultimate proof of their victimhood.
Victims have their dark side. Lets discuss a few of them.
1. The Dishonest Victim
There’s a dark side to all of us and victims are no exception. Victims are usually too afraid to confront a person directly about a problem. Instead they will talk behind the person’s back. They will long to expose their inadequacies and make themselves feel good in comparison. “I may be bad, but let me tell you, he’s ten times worse.”
2. The Irresponsible Victim
We all go through a learning curve before we master just about any subject in life. However, chronic victims refuse to participate in the experience because they are too afraid of making a mistake and being rejected. This often happens in business relationships. For example, one partner may want to play it safe and yet stands in awe of the other who is a real risk taker. He or she gladly lets the partner make all the mistakes and then cries “foul play” when anything goes wrong. They will deny any responsibility for the joint failure claiming they were just following directions.
3. The Compulsive Victim
Unless everything is exactly in the right place, compulsive victims feel out of control. And that’s a terrifying feeling. So they compensate by being overly controlling, while in reality they are fearful victims. Being in control to the point of excess can be a solution to handling life’s fears. However, one thing out of place and they feel like they are in a spin.
Both of us have seen executives who fit this role. While outwardly successful, the fact is fear runs their lives. As a result, they try to control everything and hesitate to delegate anything. This is a terrifying reality in light of today’s leadership paradigm “the less you control, the more you can do.” These executives are often “running for their lives” to mask their fears. They can destroy not only their businesses but themselves in the process.
The history of victimhood in the workplace as we know it has evolved over the last 100 years. Over this time we have moved from physical to mental to emotional priorities. For the first 25 years or so of this century health and safety concerns claimed the majority of victims. You may be familiar with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 where sweatshop workers were forced to either leap to their death or get burned in their building because the owners had blocked all means of exit during the workday. Many of us have seen pictures of manufacturing environments throughout the country where children worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week. Disease and physical injury were rampant in the workplace during those years. Reporters and activists were the heroes of the day as they sought to make “villainous” employers abide by state regulated health and safety laws. It was not until the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1938 that the country had a uniform standard for workplace health and safety.
Workplace victims in the second quarter of the last century focused on the struggle to speak and act with a collective voice. A collective voice that could negotiate for a better wage and perhaps a healthier and safer work environment. Mass strikes and protests crippled some of the country’s largest businesses. The struggle spilled out into the street and involved heavy-handed law enforcement. In the end, union activists and legislatures came to the rescue and gave employees the power of collective bargaining—a power which union representatives have used to the considerable benefit and detriment of the workforce over the last 65 years.
For the next quarter of century or so we progressed past physical survival and the dominant theme became one of equality. Equal pay standards were demanded by women’s groups. Minorities demanded equal access to jobs and other workplace opportunities. Particularly vulnerable during this time were southern blacks and immigrants. Once this conflict spilled out onto the streets, the legislatures acted once again to give employees even greater power. We passed the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act, once again coming to the rescue of workforce victimhood.
The last 25 years of the 20th century took workplace victimhood to new and elaborate heights. Now employees not only demanded that they be treated equally, but that they be treated “fairly.” Crafty lawyers argued there was a covenant of “good faith and fair dealing” included in every employment relationship. They championed employees who “blew the whistle,” or claimed to have been victims of misrepresentation or slander.
This was how Don was introduced to Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace. I started my law practice in 1983. People came to my office in droves complaining that they had been harassed, discriminated against, slandered, or otherwise treated unfairly. They demanded justice and wanted me to play hero for them. And I did. In fact I made it my life’s mission, at great expense to personal, family, and financial well-being. (Ever read the John Grisham novel Civil Action? That was me.) I believed that if I did a really good job representing an employee, not only would I help save them from pain, I would also teach those dastardly villains a lesson and change their way of doing things. As it turns out, that’s seldom what happened at all.
For most of the last century, Villains,
Only something changed. Seemingly overnight, we witnessed the death of control as a predominate workplace theme. All of a sudden we were waking up to the fact that control over people or things did not generate the serenity and security we so deeply desired.
We are coming to a point where we don’t have to equate work with control or struggle. Today’s workplace is more about how people feel than ever before. The good news is that becoming your own hero in the workplace has never been easier.
Three times within the past five years I have represented women who claimed to have been raped by their supervisors. It is an incredibly difficult subject for all parties involved, especially the victim. Let me spend a minute giving you a rough background on these cases. One woman worked for her company for six weeks before being raped, another for six months, and the third woman for over a year. All three were single. Two of them were mothers. One of the men had a rocky marriage, one of them was divorced, and one never had a decent relationship. All three women had been divorced and all were having struggles in their current relationships. All three women were between the ages of 30 and 40. In none of the three cases did the women immediately report the alleged rape to authorities. Two of them didn’t complain until after they left their companies. In none of the organizations had any of the participants gone through a sexual harassment training course. All of the companies had a sexual harassment policy within their employee handbooks. In none of the cases was there ever a direct witness to the alleged incident. Only one witness in a total of three cases testified that she thought something wrong was going on between the plaintiff and the defendant. One incident took place in a government office, one incident took place at a large company, and the other one at a very small company.
In every one of these cases my client had difficulty reentering the workforce. All three went through extensive psychological counseling. While the experience each one of the three women suffered was horrible, as a result of their soul searching and counseling I believe all three of them grew while going through the recovery process. In all three cases the defendants denied raping the victim. While I believe my client’s stories, it is equally possible that you or a jury would believe the story of the men involved. Their story in each case was that they were not villains but in fact were victims themselves. One admitted to a kiss, the other two denied the episode completely. All three cases settled for undisclosed amounts prior to going to trial.
In all three cases, I explained to my clients that we always have some measure of responsibility for our circumstances, no matter how random or brutal they may be. Most importantly, we always have a choice as to how we will deal with events once they have occurred. This is true for every one of us. It’s about managing the emotions within our control.
All three women knew that something was “not right” prior to the alleged rape. However, none of them acted on their intuition. Driven by hidden emotions, they told themselves things like “I think he’s just trying to be friendly,” “He acts that way with everybody,” “I just got the job and I don’t want to cause waves,” “I think I can handle him,” “I don’t know who to complain to,” “I don’t have anyone to share this with,” “Nobody will believe me,” “I need the job,” “I am afraid to say anything,” and “I don’t want to suffer the embarrassment this will bring.” All of them ignored the inner voice that said “this has to stop immediately!”
The men testified that “She was the one being flirtatious,” “I would never do something like that to someone,” “I wasn’t interested in her,” “I was just trying to be friendly,” “I thought she was interested in me,” “She never complained about it”” “She’s just being manipulative”” “She’s just trying to get back at me”” “She should be sued for slander”” “Prove it”” and “I would never do anything like that.”
Clearly, both alleged victim and villain were steeped in blame and justification. None of them ever used the word responsibility. And none of the parties was willing to accept any responsibility. Denial, denial, denial! Fear, fear, fear!
Only one of the clients kept any of the money from her settlement. Two of them either considered or filed bankruptcy. Unfortunately, it appears as if none of the women fully acknowledged their role in The Plot. As a result, they are poised to attract a villain again. Despite the pain it causes, they will continue to seek out drama because at an emotional level it’s all they know. They are afraid of not being seen as a good person and have a fear of being rejected. They feel that a hero will come along to save them sooner or later.
It is important that we get the essence of the drama: Fear of not being seen as a good person. Fear of being rejected. Feeling that a hero will come along sooner or later. These feelings will draw the villain every time.
Why do we share such harsh scenarios? It is because the extremes in relationship failure point out the essential emotions and belief structures with greater clarity than do the day-to-day challenges. However, this is not to say that mastering the day-to-day challenges is not the key to success.
When we go through troubled times we must acknowledge our grief and pain. We needed to address our emotions physically, either by writing them down or by speaking into a mirror. Then we can begin to heal. Next we need to drill down and discover why we found ourselves in those circumstances to begin with. What earlier experiences led to our beliefs and fears? What’s the repeated conduct? Why does this seem so familiar? Only then can we begin rebuilding our belief systems and learning our lessons so that we don’t face similar circumstances in the future. So life doesn’t become our personal Ground Hogs Day.
One of the best cures for depression is physical activity. Don’t think about it for now, just do it. Just go to the gym, just go to lunch with friends, just read a self-help novel. Begin by starting to move ahead physically and your emotions will catch up.
Whenever you are stuck in the victim role in a relationship, you may have created an image of whom you want that other person to be instead of seeing who he or she really is.
Consider how your parents connected with you when you were a child. Do not bemoan how awful it was, you just want to become conscious of your own victim scenarios that you might still be acting out today, striving and triumphing until you become your own hero.
Any bad experience you had will keep your emotional nature attracting similar situations and people to you, whether at home or at work, so that you can indeed become your own hero.
Victims attract villains for the purpose of eventually becoming their own heroes. That’s how The Plot is played out through the script of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. At least you won’t feel so confused if you know what’s going on, and before long you can learn how to deal with those feelings!
Life is really that simple. You begin with a victim scenario in childhood and then you keep attracting the same scenario over and over and over until one day you are not a victim, nor a villain seeking revenge for your hurt, but indeed you become your own hero. Only then will you perceive life as fair.
That doesn’t mean you can’t turn your will over to God, or get a counselor or family member to help you. What it does mean though is you are the actor and actress who must speak the words, feel your feelings, and act out the deeds that prove without a doubt to yourself that indeed you are now a hero. There must be no doubt that you are no longer playing the victim or a villain getting your revenge. Only then will you get the reward of self-acceptance which translates to happiness.
Since the days of Greek tragedies, the early Hollywood movies and modern thrillers, the bad guys were moving in the half shadows, scheming, cunning, cleverly plotting, and doing whatever they pleased, undeterred by public opinion. Such power, determination, independence, mystery, and danger are endowed with an undeniable sex appeal, with the promise of plenty of drama and the discovery of a new, unknown terrain. The enemy often charms and seduces his or her victim into submission.
Goethe’s Mephistopheles is a rather more sparkling character than his comparatively pedestrian Faust. The devil has the expensive champagne-appeal, the je ne sais quois. The role of the villain is therefore by no means despised in the good old Goodness Triumphs Over Evil show. His or her part demands more skill and depth in character than the rather staid good guys and girls playing victims and heroes.
Without a personification of evil, someone who consciously and intentionally harms the innocent and helpless, the show can’t go on. The villain is a necessary character in our emotional education. However, as evil has been losing out to goodness for millennia in our plot, why would a person choose the villain’s role?
It all goes back to the beginning. At birth, we all start out as victims since we can’t take care of ourselves. The path to either hero or villain usually begins as young children when we are confronted with a situation in which we or our loved ones are truly victimized, which has a deep and lasting impact on our lives.
The victim is full of good faith no matter what happens. Even when a victim is overwhelmed with fear, he or she believes that a hero will come to the rescue, and screams for help.
However, if no hero arrives and the victim can’t extract herself from the situation, she begins to lose faith. The victim played her role, where is the hero? Victims who never get saved begin to lose their faith in goodness.
Villains love to torture their victims. Over years of practice, the script has endowed the villain role with three characteristic tactics for bullying, intimidating, and bulldozing over people: manipulation, control, and abuse.
Although physical hurt seldom goes unnoticed, to unveil the clever villain in disguise you must be able to use your feelings.
Your emotional self must feel when you are being teased or conned into submission. Your intuition must alert you when you are trapped in a gilded cage. Your emotions must recognize an abusive villain by the energy he or she emits.
The common denominator of all villains is a distinct lack of heart. They freeze you rather than cheer you with warmth. Their energy pulls you in quickly to take whatever they want from you and does not flow outward to give generously, except to set you up for a bigger take.
To detect the villain within yourself, you will need to find the time in your life during which you enjoyed destroying something almost as fast as you built it.
At that point your heart connection closed off, and now you only feel in extreme situations. That is why your emotional nature always pulls you into horrendous dramas in which you can’t help but feel eventually, albeit only the anguish and torment of the victim role.
And while you are in that vulnerable state, maybe you can become rehabilitated by connecting with your feelings that went numb. Villains only learn through intense crisis scenarios.
A villain can be recognized by the following attributes:
Victims rarely provide or experience fun in life. They stumble from one drama into another, and need to be saved. The grief and pain never stops.
Heroes can be so consumed by their mission that they become too serious. They set out to right the wrong and save humanity, working around the clock and having no time for fun.
Since the victim role is a beginner’s part and the hero’s script a lot more demanding, there are many more victims than heroes in the workplace. Therefore many a victim ends up screaming his or her lungs out for help, but the heroes are busy elsewhere.
When a hero doesn’t arrive, the victim’s emotional nature experiences the hurt and pain, and begins to feel betrayed. Life for the victim then feels unfair.
This unfairness prompts the victim to choose the part of the villain. The emotional self has identified the role of the victim as dangerous to its health and decides to try a more promising role.
So the victim tells himself something like, “The part of the victim hurts too much. So I am going to model the only other role around, the villain!”
While playing his part and receiving the blows, the victim stores up plenty of toxic emotions from other people, especially villains. He must get rid of these toxic emotions or suffer from them until he breaks down and dies. As a villain, he can hurl them at others, which gives him temporary relief from his emotional pain. To be on the safe side, the villain initially tests his strength by choosing victims who are weaker than he is and who cannot fight back.
Villains find themselves hurting someone innocent or helpless such as a partner or an employee, without any apparent reason.
Their uncontrollable rages of anger go unchecked because they are surrounded by people too kind for their own good, letting them get away with their conduct whenever they feel like it.
Many times their anger is rooted in incidents forgotten long ago. To survive these circumstances people close their hearts so they can’t feel the pain. They can be mean now because they have shut down their feelings! They will search for any evidence to justify their anger. These victims-turned-villains numb out their memories. All that is left is their abusive actions that can continue for many years.
Even though these villains often equate love with weakness, they can eventually learn to accept and begin loving themselves. Until then, they feel so much hurt from all the stored toxic emotions that they cannot empathize with anyone else and are mainly concerned with releasing their own pain.
Do not allow yourself to be a sucker or a devoted sheep to a villainous wolf. Unfortunately, many employees are like devoted sheep who will be devoured by a wolf (villain) with a need to conquer, every time.
A naïve victim is devotional, over sweet, over accepting, and self-effacing, groveling to receive some form of acceptance. Be prepared! In the business world just like at home, you will be taken advantage of.
But who says evil doesn’t pay? Villains certainly are quite happy with their rewards:
Trying to obtain these benefits without turning into a true villain is a challenge for all of us.
Over the last 100 years management has been cast in the villain role. This is despite the fact that businesses and their executives create opportunity, produce jobs, put a roof over people’s heads and food on their plates. Many company owners and managers feel it is they who are being victimized. They feel the red tape and litigiousness surrounding the workforce relationship is so interfering, many of them do whatever they can, whether legally or otherwise, to shed themselves of responsibility for employee relations. Witness the growth of the employee leasing industry.
There is the common emotional belief that only villains rise to the top, and that to succeed means to compromise ethics and step on the less brazen or less fortunate. It is “they”” the villains, who cause plant shutdowns, layoffs, and wage cuts. It is “they,” the villains, who seek to justify the pain they allegedly cause the workforce.
This perception of us vs. them continues its momentum as we look to widening gaps in our paychecks. Business lobbies hard to keep down the minimum wage, while executives make record incomes. Again, the Catch 22 is that in today’ economy we no longer have to work for villains or for anyone else. In today’s economy our decision to work for or with somebody else is a choice we have to take responsibility for.
The star in every Western epic, every family saga, every Inc. 500 list, and every employment lawsuit victory is, of course, the hero. In the play Goodness Triumphs Over Evil, the hero rescues the victim from the villain’s clutches and goes on to defeat the villain. Both hero and victim know the script well. In the end, no matter how long it takes, goodness will triumph over evil.
True heroes believe the melodramatic story of the victim or villain. Our emotions relate to the tale, and the better The Plot, the more our feelings become involved. Hard-luck dramas especially appeal to the heroes as they share the characteristics of purity and gullibility with the victim.
Both victim and hero also know that the final act ends with the words They Lived Happily Ever After. Did you ever notice in the movies or on Broadway and in your favorite business magazine, that this ending scene is always very short, and then the curtain comes down fast? We never get to see how the protagonists live happily ever after.
Not withstanding the brevity of the scene, both victim and hero know that they will receive this magic energy, this happiness, just before the curtain comes down. It is their reward for having played their parts well.
That happiness also prompts hero and victim to rush back as soon as the curtain comes down and audition one more time for the same roles in hot pursuit of vanquishing evil yet again.
Heroes and victims become depressed if they leave the game for too long because the play is the source for their emotional energy. Our emotions are the fuel for all our actions, good or harmful.
Most people can’t imagine a life without conflict. Without drama. Wouldn’t it be boring, they ask? Controversy seems to be a necessary requisite for our emotional nature.
Our feelings take a short rest after the final curtain comes down. For how long? A month, a week, a day, or just a few minutes before the auditions begin again. Then it’s time to rush back to play a starring role once more in the ever-popular matinees and evening performances of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil.
A man came to Loy because he had just lost his third fortune. Earlier his money had gone to ex-wives and children. This time he had invested all of his funds in a bogus stock certificate scheme.
As soon as the money was made, he found some way to get rid of it, and then rushed back into battle to begin all over again. Logically he didn’t realize this behavior pattern until Loy helped him understand that emotions can’t be argued with.
Making the money, overcoming adversity, and struggling, that’s how he fulfilled his emotional needs. He did not know how to Live Happily Ever After, he just knew how to conquer. To simply maintain wealth and happiness seemed a rather unexciting option in comparison.
Besides, heroes don’t keep money if they make any; it could tarnish their reputations.
As we write about this, both of us are reminded of our personal failures with money. Despite what our brains said, our emotions equated money with villainhood. With evil. With control. Like many others, it wasn’t until we “got it,” that we got to keep any of it!
This is the audition for the debutante headed for the role of the hero. The gullible hero comes with all the naïveté and the innocence of the victim part, plus a little more muscles and brains.
Heroes usually end up seeking help only when they are exhausted and drained of their energy from helping too many victims or when they have been duped too many times by sophisticated villains and need help to unravel the spider’s web they find themselves caught in.
To this date, most people are not even aware that their emotions set them up to suffer at length before being rewarded. The emotions feel they must triumph over adversity before they can experience happiness.
It is rare, indeed, to find a person who has a love affair with this world just as it is, someone who truly connects with its beauty and allows its light to guide him or her.
Here are some of the qualities that we develop by acting out the hero role:
Usually an actor auditions for the hero role after having played the victim many times. He has finally found a method to save himself, which becomes his solution for saving other victims who are going through the same problems. Every time the hero implements this strategy, emotionally he relives saving himself.
Triumph is the passion that drives the hero into action. The hero cannot endure the pain of seeing others suffer as he did in his role as victim and becomes intent on saving them.
Heroes can be former victims saved by themselves or by someone else. They become a hero to themselves and hence others when they move towards total responsibility for their feelings.
There are people we work with, live with, and play with who are fortunate to be raised a hero or to follow in a hero’s footsteps. Some heroes champion the underprivileged or fight for some other cause. Both of us went through such periods.
Oftentimes heroes begin to try to save others even before they deal with their own victim scenarios. Sometimes the hate and negative energy these heroes use to triumph over the perceived abusers are lethal.
When this happens, they perpetuate hate, blame, and anger by using that negative energy in their cause. They file needless lawsuits, without so much as an attempt at negotiation. Hardball is their game. Eventually, the cause they are working on begins to get tainted.
The purpose of the victim role is of course to play it over and over until you become your own hero. If someone else saves you, you’ll repeat the same scenario before long. Only when you become your own hero and save yourself are you complete. That is your final role in The Plot.
Heroes who demand that victims use only their solution, instead of finding their own, always end up being overturned. Why? Each victim has to find a solution that works for him personally. He will not feel like a hero using someone else’s solution, at least not for long.
Many times heroes perceive the world as unfair and threatening, and they keep trying to protect the victims and keep them out of harm’s way. This is especially true of people who have never dealt with their own victim scenarios.
Heroes often become over-controlling with their victims, which is unwarranted unless the victim is in an emergency. In a true emergency the hero may indeed need to take over and use every bit of strength possible to save the victim. While control is required to execute a good strategy in a crisis, too much control in a less extreme situation becomes repressive. An excess of hero qualities can further violate the victim whom the hero was initially trying to help.
Below are listed qualities that, when in excess, lead the hero and heroine to their dark sides:
Many people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. They may look like heroes to others, but in essence they are victims blaming villains for the results of their behavior. “That was not my doing. My boss told me to do this.” Responsibility is deferred to a higher authority.
A sizeable number of managers have stated in courtrooms “I’m not responsible, I was only carrying out orders.” This is the dark side of the hero: A leader who gives orders but is too fearful to accept responsibility.
It’s important when dealing with emotions not to discount the character roles. Don’t get caught up in the glamour of who you think is speaking to you, instead pay attention to what is said.
One of the most difficult things for any manager is to empower employees without controlling them. Unfortunately, too many managers “own” their subordinate’s problems.
The “I don’t know what to do, you have to help me” statement triggers an emotional response. Either we find ourselves coming to the rescue and doing the subordinate’s job for them or punishing them for not managing things themselves.
Subordinates who never “get it” know they can rely on their manager to step in when necessary to help out. Alternately they learn to keep silent in the face of uncertainty and just let things fall through the cracks again and again. Sooner or later the manager rebels out of frustration at the no-win situation and starts building a “file” with the goal of eventually terminating the under-performing employee.
We have all seen cases where an employee never seems to “get it” and requires constant rescue. This is the classic example of a hero (the manager) being manipulated by a villain disguised as a victim (the employee).
Loy explains that you can tell a “villain disguised as a victim” from a “true victim” because nothing ever seems to work for villains disguised as victims. We can offer them solutions and show them how to fix the situation whenever they cry, but nothing ever works. There’s always a justification. They have learned the game of manipulation too well and know that if they play the victim role their supervisor/manager will be there to rescue them.
One of the biggest problems with The Plot is that it keeps us working according to the Pareto Principle: We spend most of our time and energy on the 80% of the workforce that produces only 20% of the results. Because the victim role draws all of the attention, the heroes of the workforce that produces 80% of the results go virtually ignored.
Unless they maintain an incredibly high level of self esteem, sooner or later the ultra-high performing heroes in your organization may feel emotionally drained and will move on to a new environment searching for fulfillment and recognition. They will leave without so much as a single complaint. Alternately they may take an even more destructive route and start playing the villain or victim role.
It is admittedly difficult to break past limitations imposed by The Plot. Even the best of us falls back into familiar patterns. One way to break out of these patterns is to impose an alternative system. For example, if you have difficulty with victim employees who do not take responsibility, instead of coming to their rescue demand that they come up with solutions to their problems that you will then give them feedback on.
When the employee asks “Can you help me with this,” tell him you would be willing to do so, but only after he has documented his efforts first. Then don’t settle for his first response. If his response doesn’t give evidence that he “gets it,” send him back to the drawing board. Sooner or later he will realize he can’t manipulate you with expressions of victimhood.
One last note about the hero at work. It doesn’t take much to push most of us to our dark side if we or someone we care about are treated unfairly. Injustice or unfairness is a proof of evil. It causes the emotional energy to start building up inside in anticipation of conflict and ultimate victory.
We have to be careful not to transition into villainous activity when this happens. Unfortunately, our feelings conclude that the end justifies the means. It certainly makes for an action-packed day for our emotional self as it plays out its role in Goodness Triumphs Over Evil.
Start by writing down the stories of your own emotional pain that relate to your professional life. Forget the grammar, the punctuation, just jot down the tale that’s inside of you. Seeing it on paper helps you to step back from the drama. Make sure you have lots of tissue by your side, as tears may flow as you wake up to the emotional drama you’ve been playing out in your personal and professional lives.
Find the scenarios in which you still play the victim role or the vengeful villain, harming others as you try to get rid of your emotional pain from the past.
Get clear on the scenarios that will pull you towards your future of becoming your own hero one day.
If you are on an emotional roller coaster, find out which feelings are driving you. You may be new to this language of feelings and need some help.
Did you know that just as colors and sounds have a range, so do feelings? That range is from life to death.
We noted this range of feelings as we worked with our clients over the years. As there is no finite set of feelings, you are invited to expand, amend, or revise this range of emotions based on your own personal experience.
Make sure though that you don’t want to delete the socially unacceptable feelings. It could be that you’ve been ashamed of these feelings and left situations and people rather than feel them.
Why not check off those feelings that you experience the most often while at work.
These feelings lead us to crying in distress for a hero to save us.
These feelings lead us to harmful actions if not dealt with.
These feelings are our reward for saving others. Once we’ve helped others enough times, usually we learn to become our own hero. That’s when we feel these feelings most of the time, not only when we have just saved someone else.
Victims, Villains and Heroes: Managing Emotions in the Workplace
While our favorite script features a maximum of three characters, victim, villain, and hero, it requires a minimum of two. The hero role is optional. However without at least a victim and a villain we can’t stage the performance. As our emotional self knows that the villain will immediately be attacked by everybody else and lose in the end, it chooses the victim role whenever we encounter an upset, whether minor or major, regardless of our prevailing personality.
No matter how many people are on stage during a confrontation, every single one of them will immediately clamor to impersonate the victim. No weapon wards off an attack as effectively as accusing any of the other parties of foul play. You can choose to use logic to argue your way into the victim role or to express your suffering and pain emotionally. Both approaches work.
In our Western society, women have an unfair advantage during the audition for the victim role. They learn early in life that their furious tantrums are not suffered gladly, while distress is deemed a totally suitable female feeling.
Look hurt, sound hurt, and you are almost there. Your boss slammed the door shut? Give him a wounded look and hold your ear. He shouts at you? Cry.
Tears are a tremendous weapon. Most men can’t stand to see a woman cry because they have never learned to deal with their own feelings. Tears lay so much blame at your partner’s doorstep he has to be a villain not to feel like one.
Men are taught that anger is basically the only acceptable sentiment they may display, which predestines them for the part of the villain.
To prove themselves victims, men usually pout, sulk, and refuse to communicate. They often withdraw offstage entirely to deal with their feelings. When they have recovered their composure and strength, they return to the stage to dispute all faults they may have been blamed for and argue themselves into the role of the poor, innocent victim, leaving their adversary utterly defeated.
Because of cultural conditioning, women usually feel hurt first and need to express their hurt before they can explore their anger, while the sequence is reversed for men.
Of course, the victim must prove that his opponent is the bad guy by listing all his misdeeds from a minute ago to prehistoric times. Frequently people in any relationship will start an archeological excavation of their past battlefields to identify beyond any doubt the original villain who started the war. The words used are YOU, YOU, YOU. As soon as YOU is hurled at the listener, his emotional nature readies itself for battle.
Whatever accusations follow don’t matter any more to our feelings; our emotional nature takes its cue primarily from the tone of voice. We can’t tell you how many times we have heard, “It’s not what they say, it’s how they say it.”
At the beginning of almost all our counseling or legal consultations, each client has told us their story from a victim’s point of view. Our clients wanted to enlist us as their hero who would condemn their partners, bosses or employees as villains. They wanted to be rescued as the long-suffering victims.
If you have the choice of enemies, select a hero or a heroine. He or she will believe you on the spot that they made a mistake from which you suffer as a consequence. They get out the bandage for the hurt knee, the tissue box for the dripping nose, and comfort you as best they can while blaming themselves for their lack of perfection. Eventually, they become nervous wrecks, accidents waiting to happen.
Of course, we all make mistakes, and as long as they are human, heroes are no exception. However, heroes are the only characters in our wonderful show who have to accept full responsibility for all their actions, the good and the bad. While victims lie to escape any accountability for their mistakes and villains cheat and deceive as a part of their role, heroes must admit their faults.
Many heroes also inflict great harm on themselves and occasionally develop psychotic symptoms just to avoid hurting others. They know deep down that they will be fought to the end if they injure anyone.
In short, it is wonderfully easy to persuade and manipulate heroes that they are villains.
In our favorite matinee and evening performance of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil, we collect emotional toxins every time we feel abused or belittled and don’t defend ourselves. The feelings of pain, grief, betrayal, rejection, anger, and hate become lodged in our body and are unleashed to do battle with any real or imagined villain.
However, before the fight, the victims and heroes on stage need evidence of the crime the villain is blamed for. Once the proof is established, they feel justified in dumping their poison on the identified evildoers, be they co-workers, a company, or an entire industry.
One highly effective strategy in a conflict is therefore to convict our adversary of lying. The minute we have sound evidence that he or she is a liar, the lethal battle with the villain begins.
The truth, and nothing but the truth. Every actor in our thriller swears to it on a stack of bibles. The villain knows that he is lying while he does so, but victims and heroes sincerely believe that honesty is the highest virtue of them all.
However, they often delude themselves and thus their actions do not match their claims. Victims, for instance, are cowards and, when caught between a rock and a hard place, lie to protect themselves.
Heroes admit frankly any mistake they have made—as required by their role—yet they will fabricate smooth and flowery lies without any qualms to avoid hurting another person.
Although all victims, villains, and heroes lie as part of the script, a convicted liar is condemned as a villain. The trick is not to get caught.
However, since everyone plays to win according to their role in our highly competitive drama, some people constantly put their fellow co-workers, family members, and acquaintances through the lie detector test.
The minute the liar is convicted, every player on stage instantly has leave to triumph over the villain. Everything else a person has been or done in the past is forgotten the moment he is proven a liar. We even have jury instructions that embody this viewpoint.
Each time you triumph over a person and hurl your emotional power at your adversary, your opponent becomes stronger as he now receives your energy, leaving you momentarily drained.
In fact, many victims who procrastinate and don’t have enough energy to get going themselves push their business partners’ buttons until they explode. Then the victims use their business partners’ energy to finish their projects.
Joanie always put all her assignments off until the last minute. She didn’t get busy unless she had a deadline she couldn’t squirm out of. Obviously, in order to accomplish her task in the remaining space of time, she needed a vast amount of energy. Since she didn’t have that kind of reserves within herself, she picked on her forceful business partner Cecilia until she erupted. Joanie then used the emotional energy from their fiery fights to finish her jobs, while she was draining Cecilia and casting her as a villain into the bargain.
Joanie had to learn to find her own power instead of living like a parasite off Cecilia’s strength. Cecilia was rushing from one activity to another so fast she was usually caught off guard by Joanie. She had to learn to find a gentler pace. And of course Joanie had to speed up.
The moment Cecilia became aware of Joanie starting an argument with her, she would walk out the door. Cooling off was initially a very demanding exercise for Cecilia. One day after work it took her a full fifteen-mile hike into the mountains, another time on the weekend she went kayaking down a river, then she bicycled for hours up Mount McKinley before the addictive pull of the negative energy had been absorbed.
In the meantime, Joanie listed the tasks she felt she couldn’t complete without an extra charge of power, and worked out how to build her own emotional energy without harming herself or others. As time went by, Joanie increased her strength and stopped criticizing Cecilia.
Cecilia no longer felt drained around Joanie. She also had to find a different way to get rid of that excess power within herself.
Although it may sound simple, becoming co-heroines was a tremendous effort for both women who had been addicted to their roles of victim and controlling hero all their lives.
If you want to become your own hero, you’ll need to learn how to stop giving away your power and becoming drained.
If you’re in a particularly challenging relationship at work, tell your co-worker, supervisor, or CEO that you will not participate in conflicts any longer. Let him know that you will sit down and resolve your differences but you won’t engage in a combat of fists or words. You will leave long enough for the addictive competitive energy to dissipate. Someone has to stop the war, and you are going to be it.
Negotiate that agreement long before a fight begins, when the atmosphere is cool and calm. Otherwise you will be defeated before the battle starts. If your boss says, “I demand that you stay when I’m yelling,” inform him that you are taking your guns and cannons off the battlefield. You will retreat even if he considers you a coward, but when the smoke settles, you will be back.
If your boss is deep down a good person, while you are gone he or she will begin to feel bad for hurting you.
When a person is out of control, you are facing a villain who feels justified in harming.
If you do not want to be a victim then do not take the abuse that is coming your way. It’s that simple. You do not have to take abuse, you do not have to engage in battle to prove that you are stronger. Become the heroine by getting out of the line of fire.
This will be harder to do than anything you have ever done in your life, to not become involved in an argument, especially if the other person is actually wrong. But that’s your task, to desert from the war.
This deceptively simple step sounds so easy and yet is so difficult to take. You’ll have to face the fact that your refusal to engage in combat may hurt the other person. Now they are left with all this energy worked up and nobody to defeat. If she doesn’t release it somewhere else, the aggression will make her feel worse about herself.
That’s the real victory, letting the other person feel bad about himself for his harmful feelings and actions. The greatest point of personal integrity is when we’ve realized that we made a mistake. Only when we know we hurt others do we usually change.
Do not come back until both of you have cooled off. After a few times, however, you don’t need to trouble your friends or co-workers any longer. Take a walk if too emotionally charged up yourself and breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Walk and breathe, walk and breathe, that’s the way of the inner hero. Breathing and walking pulls you out of your angry mode faster than anything else.
Then look for your hurt. ALWAYS there is hurt beneath our anger. Now you’ll need to sit down and write about the hurt you feel. You’ll probably discover it’s not a new hurt but one you’ve had for quite some time that drags you back into The Plot to one day become your own hero in this situation. We can assure you that if you do hurt someone with your anger, you will only drive yourself deeper into The Plot.
Now not only do you have hurt victim feelings inside of you, but you’ve added feeling bad about yourself when you hurt someone with your anger. Now you’re the villain to yourself and you begin triumphing over yourself, hurting yourself even more than you hurt the other person.
It’s harder than you might think, but that’s the simplicity of step one. Disengage the defeating energy that has been your emotional weapon. Each time you pull yourself away from triumphing, you are developing your inner strength and power.
So that’s the task ahead of you, a physical solution, driven and powered by your emotions. You can of course also go swimming, play racquetball, or engage in any other physical activity that helps you release your feelings that want to lead you to harming another person.
And here’s a wonderful treasure that you’ll begin to find: Trust in yourself. You’ll feel confident that you can get yourself out of a conflict and that you can stop injuring people emotionally.
This new strategy is a path toward self-acceptance, toward connecting with yourself in a way that you respect.
Walking off the battlefield, not engaging in combat, and not even shooting a lethal bullet with your words or venom in your tone of voice, is much tougher than fighting. Especially when you’ve got evidence that the other person is the villain this time and you could win. But the street-wise hero is above medals, war decorations, courtroom victories and “being right”.
Let’s say you are being approached at the workplace by someone you have no romantic interest in. First you must deal with yourself. How are you feeling? What emotions are you being flooded with? Are you crystal clear about what is happening here?
Then, how do you deal with that person? How do you prevent yourself from turning into a victim or villain?
First, you must be attuned to the potential for drama. Is this person you are dealing with being over-flirtatious? Are they having problems on the home front? Are they offering to do things for you that they do not do for other employees? The first step is to be attuned to the development of the drama itself.
If you are dealing with someone who is being over-flirtatious, you will need to include your wife, husband, boyfriend, or girlfriend in any discussions. Make it very clear to them that this is where your interests lie. This type of approach keeps you on your side of the emotional 50-yard line. You do not need to say, “I am not interested in you” for starters, as it will place that person in a defensive position.
If they are having problems on the home front, think twice about becoming the shoulder they cry on, no matter how important you might feel. It could lead you easily into feeling sorry for them. Not wanting to hurt them, you might get yourself into a compromising sexual situation.
As a hero, it is your job not only to save victims but also to triumph over villains. However, you must know exactly what you can do and what you cannot do. Serious villains are not beginners, and you don’t want to practice with them if you are a beginning hero.
As long as we are playing Goodness Triumphs Over Evil, a violent confrontation is always determined by physical strength and mental power. Whoever displays the most power is the only one a true villain will listen to as, he is a lot less courageous than we think.
If you are attacking the villain with outer force only, but are out of control emotionally, the villain will use your own strength against you. Whatever you do, disengage your energy from the villain as soon as you can. Do not let him live off your energy, let him live off of his own, which will drive him crazy.
Countless people emerge from disappointing working relationships without trying to find the negative aspects of these relationships within themselves.
You discover these by asking yourself these questions:
If you become your own hero, you no longer have to perform the victim role. You’ll no longer attract villains into your life. You’ll be ready to graduate from the emotional education system of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. You do not graduate by just becoming a hero and saving others. There are far too many victims to save, so your job will never be done. Life will continue to be unfair.
It’s only when you save yourself that you become free of The Plot Goes to Work.
All three characters lie, victims out of fear, villains to protect their own interests, and heroes to protect others. However, our black or white lies hurt no one more than ourselves. The self esteem you will feel for yourself for being honest and discarding lies and denials is worth the effort. Self acceptance is your reward for every time you tell the truth.
Telling the truth in a graceful manner does not mean blaming another person. The emphasis is on gracefulness.
As a victim, we must learn to write down the unpalatable truth we know and pass the paper—even anonymously if need be—to whom it concerns. At this stage, if we cannot yet talk to the other person directly, in order to feel good about ourselves, we must expose whatever we know.
Joan constantly attracted people who abused her so that one day she would learn to stand up to them. Joan had been afraid of her father and even her mother as a child. Her remedy as an adult was to live thousand of miles away from them and to visit only occasionally.
Then she had married a man who resembled dad but that relationship ended in a messy divorce. Essentially Joan had used a victim solution in her marriage just like she had done as a child. If she wanted to avoid anything, sex for instance, she developed a physical problem that couldn’t be denied. Joan and her husband really believed that she was ill. After a couple of years, Joan’s husband had an affair with a woman with whom he was sexually compatible and left Joan.
It’s at this point Joan sought out help. She was tired of being a victim and wanted to become her own heroine.
During her marriage, she had a job with a compassionate boss and she often lost herself in her work. Now that she was no longer married, she needed a new star to impersonate the villain.
George, her new boss, was the ideal candidate for Joan to learn her new role of heroine. His first action at work was to call his staff to work thirty minutes early each day for a pep talk.
He then started firing people without notice; and Joan began to fear for her job. She knew she couldn’t speak up at this stage.
Joan called the state labor board and indeed found out that it was illegal for George to ask the staff to come to work early without extra pay. She took down the number of the regulation that he violated by doing so, and then typed George an anonymous letter advising him of the facts.
At the next meeting George was ranting about a coward who had slipped a note on his desk accusing him of breaking the law. He threatened to fire the culprit as soon as he identified him or her. Joan was in terror at this point, but she knew if she gave in to her fears, she would never get out of the victim role.
Next, Joan alerted George’s boss, the head of the company, by letter of the violation, the fact that George had been notified, and his statements at the subsequent meeting. Again, Joan did not sign her name.
When George was summoned before his boss, he extricated himself from the situation through blatant lies. Afterwards he announced to his staff that he was going to find the traitor who was trying to get him in trouble. He also boasted that he had the head of the company in the palm of his hands, and that he would believe George before anyone else.
Joan once again anonymously notified the head of the company of these statements and he sacked George immediately. Through the tremendous fear that she overcame in implementing the strategy, Joan was well on her way to becoming a heroine and feeling more powerful. If this had not worked though, she was ready to leave that job and look for a new one.
If you are an employee and your workplace is one big dysfunctional Plot, don’t get caught up in the drama. Seek help from a professional hero if need be, but don’t stay in an abusive work environment. There’s no need to, just like there is no need to stay in an abusive relationship. If eliminating The Plot from your own thoughts and actions still does not allow you to thrive in a work environment, then find a new one.
Coaxing employees to come forth emotionally starts at the top. Leaders must encourage, coax and inspire. They can speak directly, supply testimonials, supply mentors, supply alternate reporting channels, the list goes on.
How do you get victims to show up emotionally? How do you break past their Culture of Silence? One way is by creating an emotional attachment to positive actions. For example, if your concern is about the willingness to complain in light of inappropriate conduct, perhaps you can publicize the experience of a worker who took personal responsibility and used the system with good results. That person may act as a mentor and encourage other similarly situated employees.
Similarly, one reason why employees do not use the company suggestion systems is because they do not feel it is safe to do so. They fear a lack of acknowledgement, ridicule, and rejection. To overcome these fears you can place pictures and testimonial notes next to the suggestion box, which provides emotional encouragement. You can also require that they come up with suggestions and reward any effort, not result. That comes later.
What do you gain by playing your role year after year with a few extra props, a touched-up backdrop, and a new cast? What keeps you suffering, crying buckets, or strands you in the emergency room at the hospital with a heart attack? How is it you find yourself testifying as either victim or villain in the courtroom? What holds you glued to the bottle or the drugs, enduring and struggling, until you overcome adversity? It would bore you to tears, wouldn’t it, if it wasn’t for the horror of it all.
You rightfully suspect every other person on stage of plotting your downfall. You are constantly on red alert to engage in a fight the moment you perceive any trace of unfairness, dishonesty, manipulation, or abuse in another person.
Why don’t you just have a ball in the final act of They Live Happily Ever After and leave it at that? Do you really need the pain? Can’t you have plain fun? There must be some spectacular benefits for you to keep running back to play the same tired script over and over again. And there is.
The Plot is our emotional education system. It is the primary form of relationship training in life, including in the workplace. The victim role is the easiest part and the one we all begin with. We must graduate to either the villain or the hero part, otherwise we keep replaying the victim role and may well be fired as one.
The trial and error approach to impersonating the villain or hero for the first time eventually teaches us power and cleverness, which are important factors for our survival and personal growth.
The triumph of a hero gives us confidence for a while, but our victories over others and the acceptance we win from our co-workers are only dress rehearsals for the real plot we play all by ourselves. Any relationship we enjoy only serves as a mirror for ourselves.
In the end, the show leads us to our vulnerability, to ourselves. The ultimate character role of the show is the inner hero, which requires a great deal of personal growth and maturity.
The drama guides us, not too gently, to finally conquer the inner villain and save our inner victim. Unless we create peace and balance between our inner victim, villain, and hero, we will be plagued by inner turmoil and continue to seek conflict with others as well.
Unless we accept and respect all our roles, we depend on others for our brief moments of happiness.
This same happiness of The Plot’s final scene, They Live Happily Ever After, is our emotional reward for playing the script. However, these past thousands of years we overdosed on spectacular tragedies and tension and never bothered to learn exactly how to live happily ever after. As soon as the hero held the victim in his strong arms, the audience began to shift restlessly in their chairs, and the stars on stage started to yearn for a good fight, and abandoned the grand finale to perform The Plot one more time.
Is it any wonder that the victim is the most favored role in a conflict? Take a moment and ask yourself, “Have I ever tried to prove I was the victim in order to ward off an attack from a boss, subordinate, partner, or co-worker?”
Is it possible that the victim role is your primary way of deflecting real or imagined aggression? This strategy ensures your emotional survival for the moment, but not for long. You may win the battle, but eventually you will lose the war.
Most everyone we worked with had a lot of experience acting out all three roles of victim, villain, and hero both in the workplace and at home.
However, the concept of being one’s own hero usually made people feel bad about themselves. If they had to save themselves, then that meant no one cared enough about them to save them. After all, if you’re innocent, pure, and sweet, a hero will come to save you, at least in The Plot.
Yet there comes a point after you’ve screamed way too many times and there just aren’t enough heroes to go around, that you decide to save yourself. You decide to become your own hero. The question is how?
Our premise is that to become your own hero, you’ll need to learn how to deal with your own feelings. You’ll need to get in touch with your victim scenarios and then work toward becoming your own hero instead of screaming for help from others. One question we’ve been asked over and over is do we have to go on archeological digs, maybe even into past lives, looking for the victim scenarios in our past? Or can we just deal with the facts of today?
What we’ve found is that stories and emotions are intertwined. Facts and figures belong to the mental aspect. In Loy’s many years of counseling, she found that regressing people to the stories in their subconscious was a very effective way to release the emotions. It didn’t make any difference if the stories were truly experienced or just fantasies. Involving our emotional self in a story allows us to touch into the breath-stopping pain and to release the victim energy within ourselves.
One of the issues that comes up in this area is the question, “How do I know if what I am regressing to is ‘real’?” As the following story illustrates, your story does not necessarily have to be “real” in order to determine the roles you play in The Plot. While the case history that follows does not directly involve the workplace, it beautifully illustrates the point.
One day Sharon, who was the owner and executive of a medium-sized company, came to see Loy with her daughter, Carolina, because she had a breathing problem for which no medical reason could be found. Sharon was constantly having to leave work to go home to take care of her daughter, which was seriously endangering her business. In fact, Sharon was seriously considering having to sell her business so she could be at home with her daughter.
Carolina was a fragile child and in the beginning Loy just had her draw pictures of her feelings on paper. She always drew black clouds and storms for her. After a few weeks, Loy decided to regress her to the sad feelings reflected in those drawings. She had her find meaningful times in her life where she experienced sadness that resembled those black clouds and storms. One occasion was the death of her grandmother. She didn’t quite understand what was happening but the sadness at the funeral was heavy on her heart.
After that session, Carolina’s breathing got somewhat better, but still she was fragile and sickly. Another day she drew a picture of something that vaguely resembled a dog and a black cloud weeping from the sky. When Loy asked her what feeling that represented to her, she had one of her asthma attacks right in her office. Loy took Carolina in her arms and asked her what she felt, and she said, “I feel like dying, I want to be with Skipper.” Loy asked her if that was Skipper in the picture, and she started to sob uncontrollably.
She told Loy a story of her dog Skipper dying in her arms. The pain and the anguish she went through was incredible as she relived the dog’s eyes rolling up toward her as he gasped for his last breath and then felt limp in her arms. Carolina went limp in Loy’s arms and started gasping for her own breath again.
She emerged as if out of a deep trance. From that moment on, Carolina’s breathing started to get fuller and the color in her face turned from gray to a vibrant, live pink.
How could you refute an emotional story like that? We had the evidence: Carolina started getting better. A few weeks later however, as Loy was doing family counseling with her mother Sharon, Loy found out that this dramatic incident never happened. Skipper had been run over by a truck and buried before the girl could ever set eyes on him.
To survive emotionally, Carolina started carrying one of her stuffed animals, a black and white dog that she never let out of her sight. She took it everywhere, even to the bathroom and to bed. The story she enacted for Loy with her stuffed animal released the pressure on her chest that had her gasping for breath since she was very small. After that session, Carolina began to breathe more freely, and she finally got over her physical problem entirely. And Sharon did not have to sell her business nor did she any longer have to leave work to go home and take care of Caroline.
Our point is that the mind deals with facts. The emotions deal with feelings. What is needed is to find a story that satisfies your emotional nature. It doesn’t matter whether that story comes from this life, a past life experience, or even a dream. It’s getting in touch with and fully expressing the victim feeling that is important.
When Carolina reenacted the emotional story that was inside her, she got well. Look at the drama she went through, falling limp in Loy’s arms. That’s the kind of drama that our emotional nature needs to feel, real or imagined.
Again, facts and figures belong to the realm of the mind. No amount of logic can ever change our feelings. Our emotional nature needs action, drama and especially stories to learn from and to use to become our own heroes.
There’s no problem with being coached or having your own cheerleading squad, but you still need to go up on the stage and express your feelings in such a way that you can easily identify yourself as your own hero.
If there’s a real villain harming you, of course you must triumph over him. That’s the script. What if the person is like you though, a good person? Then you cannot hurt that person or you become the villain.
The only way out is for the both of you as two good people to become heroes together. That’s not what we are accustomed to in The Plot though. Conflict between winners and losers is what makes The Plot juicy. Wouldn’t we get bored without conflict?
Our experience is that it’s The Plot that is boring once you wake up and begin to see it everywhere. You don’t get enthralled as you pick up yet one more newspaper, turn on the television or radio, go to the most exciting thriller movie that has just come out, or go home and play out your tired old roles once more.
It takes much more agility and grace to learn the language of feelings, which takes you to your heart. Yes, we said heart, as that’s really the only place to operate if you’re going to learn how to be co-heroes, either in business or at home.
Besides, it’s usually much easier to learn in the workplace than at home. Then you can take what you learn in the workplace to your home and be the hero there also.
Okay, if you’re courageous enough to step out of the drama of The Plot Goes to Work and experience a new script in which co-heroes reign, let’s begin. First we need to learn about the realm of the feelings. This means learning the intangible, the invisible world that you can’t readily access with your five senses.
We’re going to teach you about emotional space. Space is invisible to most of us. It’s what’s in between objects or people. You won’t be able to see it, but soon you’ll probably be able to feel what’s in the empty space. No words are needed at this point.
When we are by ourselves we can take up one hundred percent of the emotional space available to us. When we relate with another person though, we need to share that space.
How much space would two co-heroes take up if they wanted to relate from their hearts? If you are like most people, you would answer 50%. You’re theoretically right. Each person does own 50% of the space. However, there’s a practical problem in actually taking up that much space.
Practice this concept with a friend. Draw a line with 0 at either end and 50 in the middle. The line represents 100% of the emotional space between you. Now walk toward each other to the middle, which represents 50%.
Face each other, each totally taking up your 50%. If you’re like most people, you’ll feel crowded and uncomfortable as you practically stand on top of the other person. Notice I said feel, as feelings are the language of the heart—and the key to sensing our personal space.
Now that you’ve experienced what it feels like to be at 50%, begin to step back if you haven’t already. Don’t go too far back, just step back by about 10% of the total space to stand at your “40%” line. Emotionally you each own 50% of the space, but if you both step back 10%, that leaves 20% of the total space in between you. Now you’re much more likely to relate from your hearts as there is enough distance in between to feel emotionally safe.
What happens when one person takes up too much emotional space—let’s say 80%—leaving only 20% for the other person? The 20% person can feel like a steamroller has run over his or her heart. Usually that’s the end of heart relating, as the 20% person now closes his heart or runs away so he doesn’t get hurt again. He feels like a victim.
What happens if both people are victims and each only takes up 20% of the available space? There’s too much space to be heart connected.
It’s hard to make a heart connection with people who only take up 20% of the space. A person who habitually stays at 20% will be perceived as a victim. They usually aren’t present enough to connect with. They leave so much of their space open that they usually attract someone who is much stronger to take up the rest of the space, either heroes to save them or villains to abuse them.
To have real heart communication, we need to learn how to stay on our side of the 50% line. We can walk up to the 50% line if someone is not taking up their own 40%, but we don’t ever want to invade another person’s emotional space unless there is a real emergency. If a person were drowning, we would of course pull her out of the water if we could. But then we would need to go back to our own space.
Unless there’s a clear emergency, stepping over the 50% line and invading someone else’s emotional space causes us to be perceived as aggressors, controllers, or villains.
We need to learn how to coax, encourage and inspire others (from within our 50% of the emotional space) to take up their own 40%. That means gently letting a person know that we accept him or her.
Habitual 20% people don’t have enough self-acceptance to take up more emotional space, that’s why it’s important to express from our hearts what we genuinely like about them.
Acknowledgement (which is really about acceptance) is the greatest form of motivation. If we do not invade their emotional space, people begin to feel safe with us and are more likely to come out emotionally.
If we go into their space though, they will feel we are too strong for them and may retreat even more, often looking for another job without even letting us know what happened.
People choose a 20% position because that’s where they feel safe. Making mistakes is terrifying to them. The very best thing that we can do for a 20% person is to role model 40%. They’ll learn easier and feel safest mimicking a successful role model. A 20% person will rarely learn if we just tell them what to do, especially if what we say is not what we do.
We do not want to tell 20% people what’s wrong with them personally. Since they’re already in a victim state, they are very sensitive to rejection. Feeling more rejected will only drive them further back. That is one reason why poor performance evaluations seldom improve performance.
We are all 20% people at different times during our lives. When we were born, we were certainly at 20% or less as we learned how to operate our bodies. Also, anytime we start something new, we’re vulnerable as we go through the learning curve. It takes awhile for us to develop our self-confidence and move to our 40% in a brand new endeavor. That’s natural.
Be aware, if we’re at 20% even when we’re not putting ourselves into new situations or among new people, then we need to understand that we’ve decided that 20% is the safest way to be around people. We don’t want to be noticed so we hide in the background—not an uncommon scenario for someone new on the job. It’s not a safe strategy however, as we will continually draw to ourselves overly strong people, either hero types who want to save us (usually “their way,” of course) or the villain type.
This is one reason why Don suggests companies use a 60-Day New Employee Survey. It gets new employees to come out of the shadows and speak up. As it turns out, their “outsider” perspective can be an extremely valuable source of reflection and innovation.
Being a 20% person means we have lots of fears. It’s best to list our fears and then understand that fear is not a red light. It’s a yellow light saying move ahead but cautiously and look all around you.
We need to proceed slowly, step by step, at a pace that allows us to remain conscious of what we’re doing.
If we want to help ourselves move from 20 to 40%, we need to write down our fears and the experiences we go through that scare us. Releasing these feelings helps us tremendously as we move from 20 to 40%. Otherwise we’ll need other people to be by our side as we go through our fears.
Learning how to speak is very important. A Toastmaster’s class can work wonders. So can giving a lunchtime talk to co-workers on a subject that greatly interests you.
We get through our fears by being connected in the moment. Fear is usually about an imagined, not an actual future, which keeps us from moving forward. As they say, FEAR stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. When we imagine or worry about an imagined, fearful future this fixation often acts as an emotional magnet to draw the feared experience to us. If we just keep moving ahead slowly however, when we get to the future we find it wasn’t as fearful as we expected.
What happens when two 80% people get together? There just isn’t enough space for them to relate to each other except through conflict, sparring with each other to see who will back down. This is one reason why many litigators (who are predominately 80 percenters) have a hard time negotiating settlements in workplace disputes. They tend to attempt to negotiate while they are invading the other party’s “safe place.”
If we habitually take up more than our 50% of the space, say 80% of the space, for sure the only people we will consistently get to play with will be 20% people. That’s the only space that’s available left for another person.
These 20% people usually become dependent on us. When we’re habitually at 80%, people feel like they have to back up to be around us. Most likely they will not be able to tell us what they are thinking and will talk about us behind our backs.
Eighty percent people may say they want to be around others more like themselves, but there is no room for other strong people in their lives.
An 80% person is not necessarily conflictive by nature. A lot of exciting people who are great communicators can just be way too strong and take up too much emotional space. Intense would be one way to describe the habitual 80% person.
Eighty percenters get rejected as other people try to kick them back into their own fair share of the space. If that doesn’t work then abandonment is the other frequent recourse as the other person leaves to find enough space to breathe.
When people invade our emotional space the instinctual emotional response is fight, flight, or going numb. Unfortunately, no matter how a relationship starts out, it’s just a matter of time before people who give up their space need to push out an 80 percenter. Now the 80% person is viewed as the aggressor or villain.
What causes people to go past their 50% and take up too much emotional space in the first place? Instead of feeling their fears and cautiously walking through them, they run for their lives trying to get past their feelings. At 80% we’re moving so fast the speed numbs out our feelings and we no longer feel our fear. We are also so strong that we do not feel our hearts.
Often 80% people become quite mentally strong but they lose touch with their feelings. Because they don’t have the emotional sensitivity, when they relate with other people they can’t tell when they’ve taken up too much emotional space or that they’re pushing other people back.
Our premise is that anything over 50% is destructive. However, you need to assess your own life to see if this is true. Can you see the harm you’ve caused in relationships when you’ve been at 80%?
It all begins with wanting to change. People who want to be good heroes usually are willing to change once they truly come face to face with the harm they’ve caused, even if it was unintentional. Only villains like to hurt others with all their justifications.
We also need to slow down enough so we can feel instead of running for our lives.
We need to begin thinking in terms of including others. If we do anything that affects someone else, we need to have their input. After all, we need their support and unless we include them in the process, our plans will be sabotaged.
We need to learn to back up consciously and watch ourselves to ensure that we are indeed strong enough to learn gentleness.
In many cases just knowing this will help us start to move back. However we will need to learn how to deal with the feelings that we long ago decided we didn’t want to feel. It was partly because we suppressed them that we went out to 80% in the first place.
Along the way to being an 80% person we usually develop wonderful rules for how to live life. These rules were our solutions for all the fears we wanted to outrun. Now we often try to convert others to these rules because we want everyone to be like us. We think that these rules will make us safe … but they won’t.
We need to discover the pain that’s still inside of us, stored in our bodies.
A few ways to get back to our own vulnerability are to move to a new location, to be around new people, and to learn new things. These “new beginnings” naturally put us into a vulnerable place. The key is to feel our feelings this time, not run past them as we begin our new learning curve.
Prior to meeting Loy, I always associated the 80/20 rule with the Pareto Principle. However, Loy’s 80/20 rule is significantly different. Loy explained that we tend to have relationships with people in our lives who are there for us to learn our lessons. In my relationships, I have been a clear 80 percenter and generally will attract the 20 percenter. In my relationship with my wife Loren, I found myself making most of the decisions and then complaining that she wasn’t making any. Loy explained that whether my intent in doing so is honorable or not, any time I cross the 40% threshold, I am preventing that 20 percenter from blossoming into a 40 percenter. I will never get what I’m after because I don’t allow it to happen. Over time, Loren’s only choice under the circumstances is fight or flight. My intentions aside, I will eventually turn into a villain in my wife’s eyes.
I don’t know about you, but understanding this dynamic opened my heart and challenged my feelings. Loy told me my challenge would be to be more inclusive in life. She said that there is no doubt that I am a hero, but any time I act as an 80 percenter in a relationship, I turn into “negative hero.” The only distinction between a negative hero and a villain is that it is not my intent to harm someone else. She explained, on the other hand, that when you are a 20 percenter you will typically seek out an 80 percenter because they provide some structure and control. Whether the 80 percenter is a villain or a negative hero, the results will end up being the same—either fight or flight. What she explained to Loren is that it will be her challenge in life to step up to me as a representative of all the other 80 percenters out there. I will be a true hero if I can back up, become more inclusive, and allow her to step up. Then we can both escape The Plot. Shazzam!!
When I give workshops, I discuss the concept of dialogue. I explain that dialogue creates a “safe place for communicating.” As a metaphor, I put a blank box up on the flip chart and explain that it represents a safe place. I then explain that any time we engage in communication, we can put filters into that box, depending on our physical, mental, or emotional state. For example, I ask, “What type of filters can come up when a woman complains about sexual harassment in the workplace? What filters could get in the way of true dialogue?”
The first filter that can get in the way of dialogue is one’s physical state. For example, it is very hard for someone to communicate to you something traumatic if you are in an imposing environment or imposing physical state. That could act as a filter. A physical filter that crosses the 50 yard line.
Then there are the mental filters. You may think that perhaps she’s just a “gold digger” or that “she asked for it,” or that she is merely trying to protect her job. What chances do you really have to engage in active listening when there is so much noise or baggage in the way? Again, you are in someone’s emotional space with your pre-judgment.
Finally, there are the feeling filters. Perhaps we were once accused of sexual harassment or had a friend who was. We could be preparing to respond with an 80% energy without even realizing it. What other emotions might get in the way of engaging in true dialogue?
Unless we maintain a safe place, we’ll never get to the most important conduct of all, and that is engaging in a 40/40 dialogue. This dialogue should allow us to get to the feeling state. For example, if someone investigates a sexual harassment complaint, digs into the facts, and never asks the accuser how they feel about the issue, they too may be portrayed as a villain. It’s that simple.
As stated earlier, the most common way to invade the “safe place” is by using the word “you.” That is why we should focus on the conduct and not the person. To stay on our side of the 40-yard line, we have to use the word “I.”
Last year I went to a Quantum Teaching Conference put on by the Learning Forum and further understood how our physical state affects our emotional one. Just like the word “you” can cross the 40% line, so can our physical state. For example, it was explained that when a student wasn’t doing their work in the classroom, it would be a mistake to confront that student face-to-face and use the word “you.” Under that circumstance, the student will either rebel or shut down (fight or flight). Michael Grinder explained that once we get the person’s attention, we should approach them from the side and instead focus on the work to be done (i.e. focusing on the conduct, not the person). What a simple, yet powerful, insight.
I learned from Pat Wolfe, who studies the interrelationship between brain functioning and learning, that in order to learn something effectively, we have to own the experience. That is one of the detriments to the 80 percenter. I find it true in my own case. When I give presentations, I want to tell everybody everything I think they ought to know. What I am rapidly learning is that if I cut my content in half and have the audience own 40% of it, then the learning experience, and my ratings, are that much greater. It is much more powerful to own 100% of an audience than 100% of the content.
A related set of insights came from reading a very simple book entitled Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson, who shares his parable about change. In the story there are four characters, two mice and two very small individuals. All go to the same place to feed on the same big block of cheese every day. One day the cheese is gone without warning or explanation.
To make a short story even shorter (you can read it in 45 minutes), in reaction to the absence of cheese, the first mouse immediately scurries off looking for a new source and shortly thereafter is followed by the second mouse. However, both men decide to stay behind in hopes the cheese will reappear. After a period of time the two mice were rewarded with an incredibly large cheese source whereas the two humans were starving. One man, finally realizing that things would never “go back” to the way they were, broke through his fear and joined the mice. The other man could never break his chains—with the end being very clear.
What hit home for me was a question one of the mice asked one of the men, “WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T AFRAID?”
When I read this question I immediately highlighted it, and it has not left my mind since. My immediate reaction was, “I’m not afraid of anything.” But then the question began to eat at me. I found myself asking, “What if I was afraid of something? What would that be?” Dr. Johnson explains that it is usually the fear of change. I had to ask myself, “What am I afraid of changing?” Then I realized the answer was “changing myself.” Despite all of my “knowing,” fear (which is emotionally based) lives within me.
Fear lives within all of us. Fear keeps us from breaking out of the victim or villain role within. Fear prevents us from backing up to 40% and being emotionally inclusive. Our inner villain, who has benefited nicely from preserving the status quo, has no interest in changing. If we’re used to being a victim, a villain, or a negative hero, our inner villain wants to keep us right there. It is the drama we know all too well. It is the addiction to drama that helps keep us in The Plot.
And so what am I afraid of? Perhaps I am afraid of true success, both in business and in my home relationships. Perhaps I am afraid of becoming a true hero to both myself and to those around me. Perhaps my inner villain is comfortable right where it is. Perhaps my inner victim is looking for third party heroes to save my day. Perhaps I really need to be like those mice, who see it and then just do it.
Loy says perhaps I need to understand the “feeling part” even better. She explained that it is pain that will prevent me (or anyone else) from moving out of The Plot. She says until I fully understand the emotional basis of that pain, I won’t be able to arrive at a safe place within. A place where I am neither villain nor victim, but a hero to myself and others. A place where I am not afraid of change but embrace it as the only sane thing to do. A place where I am continually growing in mind, body, and spirit.
One of my fears associated with backing up to a 40 percenter is that things won’t get done. Momentum will be lost. I won’t accomplish everything I’m supposed to. Despite the fact I know at a mental level that control is dead, it’s a very hard reality to accept emotionally.
The reason so many smart people (and some not so smart people) do things that get in their own way has very little to do with what we know. For the most part, it has to do with how we feel. Feelings affect thinking and hence action. In reality, the less we control, the more we can do and the more we can be. We can think in terms of integrity, responsibility, sustainability, and win-win solutions—a conversation that has been the privilege of a select few until recently. Today’s scarcity is only in the mind. There is already enough to go around, and there would be even more if we could get past our limiting belief systems.
Let us summarize a few of the essential points above:
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How am I feeling?” Then ask yourself, is that the feeling of a victim, villain, or hero?
These questions have a number of aspects to them, some or all of which should be considered.
Tone of Voice
Our tone of voice usually accurately expresses our feelings. If you have a little girl or little boy voice, then you’re more likely closer to 20%. If your tone of voice expresses little feeling except perhaps for some anger, then you’ve moved past your 50 toward the 80% mark. A 40% voice is slower with a full tone, but not overwhelming.
Being a 40% listener is just as important as being a 40% speaker.
With a 20% person we want to use our hands to coax and encourage them to their 40%. We can beckon the person closer with our hands. Likewise when someone is at 80%, we can gesture with our hands in such a way as to say “stop” so we can begin to speak. Otherwise, we might be in for a long monologue. At 40%, our body language is inclusive, open, and inviting. We use our hands to include others.
Being at 40% means making eye contact without being confrontational. Sometimes for men to stay on their side of the line it’s easier to take a walk, golf or go for a drive so as to reduce the amount of intense eye contact.
How do you feel in your surroundings?
Victim, Villain, or Hero
When asking yourself how you feel, be sure to ask:
The Other Person(s)
These series of inquires apply to anyone you are trying to relate to.
Most people find it worth learning the language of the heart—feelings. Here’s to relating from your heart with the people that you work with every day.
Listening is one of the rarest talents found on the planet. Many hear, but few listen. However, to be heard and listened to is a basic human need as much as food and drink are. Without it, we are not capable of a normal social interaction.
To be heard, often we need to learn how to speak from our hearts. Then people will feel safe enough to be attentive to what we say.
The emotional guideline for speaking from our hearts is always to speak about ourselves, then others can hear. In contrast, when we speak about the other person, they usually stop listening and start reacting.
Here are words for your emotional script:
My experience is…
My actions were…
My perception is…
DO NOT speak for the other person by saying:
Your experience is…
Your actions were…
Your perception is…
We need to use language that keeps us on our side of the 50-yard line. The minute one person begins to say “you…” he crosses that line and starts to put the other person in a defensive position. They are forced into fight or flight feelings.
The emotional energy to triumph over you is automatically activated the moment you start telling someone what to do, what to think, or what to feel.
The other person can no longer listen. The audio reception truly turns off as the emotional nature prepares itself for battle. You’ve just activated the script of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil one more time. Regardless of the circumstances, the other person feels like an innocent victim and you’ve become a person who is harming them emotionally. Remember, harming the innocent is equated as evil. So you’ve become evil, and the good within them is emotionally preparing to find a way to triumph over you.
Certainly there are many more steps necessary to resolve a conflict, but listening comes first.
For women especially, to be heard may be all they need. They don’t want to be fixed, they just want to express their feelings. However, many women need to learn to speak from their feelings with all the “I” words. The moment they start telling other people what their feelings are (“You’re upset.”) they are no longer expressing their own feelings. They have stepped over the emotional 50% line into the other person’s space.
Speaking in the “I” mode is a technique that enables others to hear you without becoming defensive and tuning you out. Remember, the tone of voice is at least as important as the words. The words without the tone of voice to match will not work. After all, it’s the tone of voice that reflects our feelings, not the words. The words are really for us, as they help us get in touch with our own feelings instead of being fixated on the other person.
We must be especially careful using the word “you” while at work. It is better to say, “I find this conduct unacceptable,” than to say, “You are unacceptable.” While both statements deliver the same message of dissatisfaction, one does so while staying on your side of the 50-yard line. This way you are not placing the person in a position where they could quickly turn you or themselves into a villain.
The listening technique if followed properly serves more than one purpose. It may bridge differences and avoid conflicts. Once you begin to role model speaking from your feelings, other people’s emotional natures will soon follow.
Okay, let’s say you’ve really worked at speaking from your own experience with “I,” “me,” and “my” type words yet someone in your life always says those “you” words to you. What do you do? You need to get them speaking about their own experiences instead of yours. How is the question.
Here is a sample script to be spoken with an accepting tone of voice that expresses, “You are a good person.” You’re welcome to make up your own words, this is just a sample script.
You are educating someone who probably never learned about heart-felt communication skills like yourself:
When anyone says ‘you…, to me especially with a voice that I perceive as blaming, judgmental, or critical, I immediately become defensive. Most often an inner conflict begins. It would be most helpful to me if you would tell me about your experiences. Let me speak about mine.
I need to speak for myself. Please, do not speak for me.
It took me some time to learn how to speak about myself and my own experiences and not say ‘you.’ I’m more than willing to be of assistance in this area if needed.
Use the third person—”anyone”—instead of “you.”
Do not say, “When you…” Instead say, “When someone does… [the cause], my reaction is… [the effect].”
No longer will you feel no one listens to you. Finally you’ll be heard as you express yourself.
This formula will also help you to understand your usual reactions in general, not just in one instance, but probably in your entire life.
For example, when your parents corrected you as a child, you probably developed a reaction that you are most likely still using today.
When you say, “When someone does _______ my reaction is __________,” in all probability after awhile the person from the past with whom your victim scenario began will to emerge into your consciousness. Here’s to more heartfelt communication!
We thought it would greatly benefit the reader to share the experiences of four people who took The Plot program and then applied this learning to the workplace. As you will find out, The Plot is a powerful reference for success in your relationships and your career.
Dave is a well-known international business consultant. After studying The Plot, Dave began using it in his consulting efforts. The first thing he realized was that if he was going to avoid being a negative hero, he had to back off of his 80%. He needed to become more inclusive.
Fortunately, Dave was able to tap into his feelings and come from the 40% perspective. He found that by doing so, his business increased at such a rate his problem became not obtaining business but delegating it properly. This sudden abundance is a familiar occurrence for 80 percenters who move past their pain to pull back their energy and play at the 40% level.
Dave gave an example of using The Plot with a client, a mining company headed by a president we’ll call Jack. The mining industry, much like many other old line manufacturing industries, is deeply entrenched in The Plot, in large part because it developed using a command and control theory of management.
Given today’s reality that the less you control, the more you can do, any company that continues the drama known as The Plot in the workplace is on the way towards failure.
Fortunately for Dave, he was consulting with a company that already had an “enlightened” president at its helm. Jack was concerned that he was receiving a great deal of resistance from one of his top line managers who was running a fairly large operation.
The manager, who we will call “Bill,” was viewed as having communication difficulties with his workers. Bill had been through sensitivity and leadership training before only to come out feeling that he had been “skinned alive.” Fortunately Jack was perceptive enough to realize he needed Bill’s support and that is why he asked Dave to help.
As you can imagine, this time around Bill was busy gathering evidence to support his victim mentality. Bill was doing everything possible to prove that his boss Jack was somehow villainous.
As a consultant, Dave had to walk the fine line of not being viewed as the boss’s puppet. He did not want to become an instant villain by association. He also had to distant himself from Jack so as not to undermine his influence on Bill.
As a result of his work with The Plot, Dave realized he would have to lower his energy level to work with Bill and focus on giving Bill a number of choices and “outs.” Dave realized that when you want to bring someone up from a 20% to a 40% level you have to give them choices.
Dave realized that many workplace dynamics were developed in the formative years of our parent/child, teacher/student, boss/employee roles. At an emotional level, we attempt to recreate scenarios that we have become familiar with, whether to our benefit or detriment. Dave realized that Jack would have to make it safe for Bill to come forward with any concerns he had without thinking of himself as a victim in the process. If Bill stayed in his victim role, he would attempt to distort or manipulate the situation through subterfuge, portraying Jack or Dave as a villain in the process. Dave suggested that Bill make three requests of Jack on a daily basis to bring him up from a 20% to a 40% level. Dave indicated to Bill that if he was successful in stepping up to 40% could act as mentor to others on the same journey.
Interestingly, Bill began to realize that he had created an image of Jack that was consistent with the other bosses he had through his long tenure with the company. In reality only one of his bosses, his first, lived up to the character profile. Bill’s “all bosses are the same” mentality was destructive in his relationships with many of his bosses, even those attempting to be heroes. Dave had to spend a great deal of time exposing Bill’s belief system, not only about Jack but about bosses in general. Only then could Bill move forward.
Dave realized that if he did not get Bill up to 40% with Jack, he would eventually gather enough evidence to overthrow Jack. That is why it is so important not only to get the boss to pull back on his or her reins but also to grow the subordinate.
When I asked Dave to give an example of what he meant when he said he had backed up to 40%, he gave an interesting analogy. In the past, when he would see a CEO on the ledge ready to jump off, he would say something like, “Don’t you know what the hell you’re doing? If you stay on that ledge you will fall off and die!”
Dave found that under that circumstance, the CEO would rather jump than be saved by another 80 percenter. Dave claims that he will now say something like, “Can I get you something to drink?”—a 40% statement that puts the person on the ledge completely off guard and immediately opens them up to possible change.
Bob has successfully run an automotive repair service for more than 20 years. He employs more than 20 people including service writers, mechanics, and custodial help.
Bob shared insight into how his understanding of The Plot has profoundly affected the way he runs his business. Bob realized that by moving to a 40% level, he was able to extricate himself from 16-hour workdays and refocus from working “In his business” to working “on the relationships in his business.”
According to Bob, the single biggest change brought about by understanding The Plot was his being more compassionate toward his employees. He realized the role the employees were playing were all masks created by The Plot.
For the first time ever he began talking about feelings with the employees. He said his conversations now came from the heart. As a result, the employees feel safer when communicating with him.
When technicians approached Bob in the past it was usually at an 80% energy level. Being an 80 percenter himself, a win/lose discussion would immediately follow, resulting in bad feelings all around.
Since Bob was the boss, you can imagine who always won. You can also imagine how a defeated 80 percenter might feel. Now Bob says that as long as he stays at a 40% level, he finds that the technicians begin to wind down, apologize for their energy and then talk openly about how they feel.
Bob now focuses on the emotional connection first. Bob stated that when his workers came to him with an 80% energy in the past, he would react either by shutting them off and letting them know that he did not want to hear their problems … or he would come right back at them with his 80% energy. Now he lets them know that coming at him with 80% energy is too much. This immediately softens the men. Bob says, “It is amazing how soft some of my toughest guys are. On an occasion I’ve even had a good cry with them.”
Many star performers are moody, proud, ego-driven people by nature. Much of their success and professionalism and 80% energy compensates for hidden fears. In essence, they are running for their lives.
Bob shared that many of his best performers were the hardest ones to discipline. They react by being over righteous and are impossible to correct. Star performers send out the energy “Don’t mess with me because I know what I am doing.”
Unfortunately, many star performers can be very critical of co-workers. This is in part because at an emotional level they want to stay top dog by keeping other people down.
We asked Bob when he felt these star performers were most vulnerable. He stated when they were happy, usually at the end of a week in which they had accomplished a lot. When they had nothing left to prove their masks could come off. They’d have a beer together and then the men would loosen up.
Bob builds teamwork with these employees by “Including them” more. Bob now connects with his managers at a once a month dinner and includes rank and file workers on a rotating basis. At first they were uncomfortable with the inclusion but eventually they opened up and began to talk about themselves and their jobs in a healing manner. Blame and justification disappear at a 40% level.
When asked what he was trying to control these days, Bob said, “Just about nothing.” He has delegated as much as possible. He no longer works 10 hour plus days. He now spends his time at work focusing on developing relationships with his workers and customers. A responsibility he can execute on better than anyone else.
Bob shared that his people were a lot smarter than he gave them credit for. He said they have lots of great opinions and that he has been able to grow them through inclusion. Bob acknowledged that he had an open door policy, which had never worked until he was finally open himself. He said, “You have to make yourself accessible.”
One way Bob guards against victimhood is his rule about employee complaints. Before someone complains about something they must have attempted at least two solutions.
Bob talks with his employees about making connections with his customers and about being there in the moment. For example, all of the service reps make sure they walk customers to the car after they pay their bill. They gain additional insight during that short period of dialogue, which feels safer because it is not in an environment including other customers, service writers, etc. Bob also hires a woman to survey as many of his customers as possible shortly after their experience to get additional feedback.
When asked how he deals with the low wage worker who doesn’t have the skills or opportunities of his technicians or service writers, he stated, “The best thing I can do for them is just appreciate them.” What incredible insight!
Bob demands appreciation from management for all of the rank and file employees. Not surprisingly, Bob has about zero turnover in any position. At a time when there is intense competition for highly skilled technicians, service writers as minimum wage earners, he has people who have worked for him for 15 to 20 years and are enjoying the working relationship now more than ever. He said he has to “make sure everything is right for them” and then they will produce at their best.
We asked Bob to give an example of how he dealt with one of his workers who didn’t perform up to expectation. He said he had a perfect example. A technician whom we will call Hans was caught using a very poor tone of voice with one of his customers. Hans is a German immigrant and a very precise mechanic. Unfortunately, he has the habit of making his customers feel guilty about not taking better care of their cars.
After Hans had finished berating the customer, Bob took Hans aside and said, “I got the sense that the customer was not pleased with your tone of voice. In your opinion, how do you feel you handled that situation?” Without having to say more, Hans immediately apologized. Then they talked about what could be done to make sure it didn’t happen a second time.
We have a suggestion for dealing with employee discipline in light of our discussion with Bob. Using the above scenario as a model, we suggest the following expanded approach:
When you get to the point of discussing resolution, you must come from the standpoint of “We are two good people and we can resolve this.” It’s not a bad idea to use this phrase as a mantra. It works with couples as well as with workplace relationships.
Before concluding your discussions, make sure to get the situation resolved. Think in win-win terms. Then define your commitments.
We continued our interview with Bob by addressing a concern shared by many business owners and managers introduced to this material. It is this: “If I am not an 80 percenter and drive this business, how can I be assured it will succeed?”
This is an emotional response to some fear on our part. It’s about running for our lives. Bob quickly stated that he shared those fears, too. The breakthrough he had after going through The Plot training was realizing that he could accomplish more when he came from a 40% place. He said he was no longer on the 80/20 roller coaster. He said that even though he was an 80 percenter on the outside, in many respects he was a 20 percenter emotionally.
Eighty percent energy can be misleading. While it feels like real strength, it is based on fear, which is not a sustainable position. Real strength based on positive heart-driven energies is far more powerful and sustainable.
Bob says the most profound thing about coming from a 40% place is that now he is able to receive at a heart level, not just at a mental one. For the first time he is open to praise and the warmth others have to give.
So profound was the effect that after Bob found himself injured in an automobile accident and unable to go to work for more than six weeks, his company had its best months ever! He stated that previous absences would create one big drama. There would be non-stop calls from customers and employees. He said the silence during the six-week span was almost deafening. It certainly was a real eye-opener.
The final question we asked Bob was, “What is your deepest commitment to your work force?” Without hesitation he replied, “Learning to be at a 40% level with everyone.” His focus is on inclusion and empowerment. His business has never been more profitable, he has never had more personal time and he has never been happier.
Simon is a software engineer who had stories he wanted to share from the “feeling level.” The first story involved a manager who constantly pressured him to get work done within a very short period of time.
Simon, a conscientious worker, told his boss that there was not enough time to complete the project properly. However, his boss responded with an 80% emotional energy on the issue and any concern Simon had would fall on deaf ears. As a result, getting a one-word response to an e-mailed suggestion was not uncommon.
Eventually Simon’s work began to suffer, as anytime he would make a suggestion he felt he had to prepare to defend himself for the forthcoming negative response. Simon began feeling and acting like a victim. (“He doesn’t care about me.”)
The relationship between Simon and his boss was further strained by the fact that the company was going through a series of layoffs. Simon feared for his job as did the other employees. This made his likelihood of speaking up even less so than before. Anyone who spoke up felt that they might be next in line during the layoff. As a result, communication, which was so critical during this period of the company’s history, declined dramatically.
One day, after his experience of going through course work in The Plot, Simon realized that he had been a 20 percenter and needed to step up to a 40% level. This time he sent the following e-mail, “John — It took a bit of courage for me to send you this e-mail. Over the past few months…” He expressed how he felt he was forced to defend himself every time they had a communication. He shared that this was affecting his attitude and productivity. Simon also said he was aware of the pressures John faced, but knew they could work together better than this. He sent the e-mail on a Friday afternoon so that his boss would have the weekend to think about it. And it worked. As a result of this e-mail, Simon and his boss opened a new dialogue. He found himself having a much better relationship with his boss, whose attitude seemed to have changed.
Lets try to analyze what happened. To begin with, it was clear that his boss was an 80 percenter. These people generally don’t hear the first few no’s, especially if they are too panicked or too strong.
Most 80 percenters want to be pushed back, but they have to be challenged, not threatened. Ultimately, Simon’s boss welcomed his coming forward as a 40 percenter in a challenging and non-threatening manner.
Fear paralyzes communication. We end up afraid out of an emotional need for survival. While we may know we should do something, we are paralyzed to do it. That is one reason why both we believe that empowerment has to be a grassroots effort.
We have to break past the Culture of Silence and fear in the workplace and let people know that it is OK to step up to 40%. As long as we focus on the mantra of “We are both good people, how can we work together?” we will move forward.
Simon made an interesting comment. He stated that in order to reduce his fear of a layoff or retribution from “stepping up” to his boss, he arranged for a job interview to provide himself with an alternative. This is incredibly wise thinking. The more choices we give ourselves, the less likely we will be cast in the victim role.
In years of litigation practice, many an employee has told Don that they didn’t speak up for fear of losing their job. However, very few of them realized that this fear was mostly of their own making. This is especially true when we have such low unemployment rates. The fact is, you don’t have to work for a jerk if you don’t want to.
If you have a who can’t control his or her energy and comes relates to you as an 80 percenter on a never-ending basis, you have the option of working for someone else. Simply knowing that you have that “out” will allow you to step up to a 40% level in dealing with your boss.
Simon then told another interesting story. After doing the coursework in The Plot, Simon began the interviewing process. Because of his high skill-level he was used to companies to recruiting him. In the past his emotional nature felt more comfortable with staying put, regardless of how much he enjoyed his job.
This time however, he approached things differently. He began by asking himself questions like, “What do I feel like I want to do with my career?” Having gotten very clear about that fact, he then asked himself when interviewing prospective employers, “How do I think it would feel to work for this company? Do they fit into my plans?” By coming from that reference, Simon was able to attract an employer of his choice, where his opinion was respected and his efforts were rewarded.
One of the questions we asked Simon was, “Does your company have open book management?” Simon’s immediate response was “I am not interested in open book management.” Very interesting. He was then asked, “What if I told you that by understanding the numbers surrounding what you do, that you would be able to work more efficiently and add greater value?” He then responded that a previous company he had worked for had introduced the concept but made it so complex that it was very difficult to embrace. He said under those circumstances he would rather just deal with the people who “should” know the numbers.
What a revealing response. Anytime we are asking somebody to change and to do something that they may be uncomfortable with, we have to be well aware of The Plot.
We can’t come at them with a new program from an 80% energy level. It will simply overwhelm them. Workers are usually 20 percenters in areas of work that they do not feel comfortable with. To effect change in a company we need to encourage, coax, and inspire people. We have to keep change simple and we have to give it meaning.
Pat Wolfe, who studies how the brain affects learning, states that when the brain is presented with new material it always searches for meaning. Let us give an example of how this understanding applies to learning. One of the best seminars for learning about numbers is called “The Accounting Game.” In this workshop the basics of accounting are presented through the reference of running a lemonade stand. This allows students to attach meaning to the learning. It is a reference that is common to the entire group.
Simply by throwing a new program out there and asking people to adopt it won’t work unless it is attached to something they are familiar with. While we might feel like 20 percenters when it comes to dealing with numbers, I am sure we all feel like 40 percenters when it comes to the ability to run a lemonade stand.
Now that Simon has gone through The Plot, he enjoys work more than ever. He also gets paid more than ever. In the past he felt that he had to force himself to work. Now he goes to work and finds the “charming aspects” of what he is doing. He feels less pressure and has become more open. There was no room to do that when he was a 20 percenter coming from a fight or flight reference. The Plot is something that you accept. It’s a choice.
Simon’s use of the word charming is the equivalent of Loy’s use of the word acceptance. In Buddhist terms, we want to find the dharma in the work that we do, no matter what it is. Being a 40 percenter opens us up to the spiritual side of our work lives.
Simon made a final insightful comment. He stated that the dot-com community is all about “connection,” yet many companies still don’t get this. He has learned that in order to move at Internet speed we need to feel in order to connect.
Simon has realized that being successful today is about being proactive about how you feel, not reactive. You, like Simon, have the power to decide what your role will be in The Plot Goes to Work.
Holly was introduced to The Plot in its inception. She has a background in high-end sales to an affluent client base. This background includes yacht and helicopter charters and time-shares for a major resort.
Holly shared that the most powerful reference she obtained from The Plot was the understanding that “We are both good people.” She now focuses on building a relationship from the heart first, before coming close to discussing the subject of her sales call. Because of this approach, she believes there are many people who buy from her just because they feel good being around her.
Holly had a story to share about her days employed selling time-shares for a major company. Year after year Holly was the top selling agent. She had a very personable boss who was low key in his ways and basically just let her do her job.
Unfortunately, while his approach worked for Holly, it did not work for other sales agents who needed more encouragement and focus. Her boss, despite the fact that he was an extremely likable man, managed from a 20% energy level, which was not enough to encourage, coax, and inspire most of his workers.
Anxious to boost sales, the company fired her boss and in his place hired a “real mover and shaker.” Apparently this fellow was not only a mover and shaker but also a person willing to “churn ’em and burn ’em” without losing any sleep over it. She said he was clearly a villainous 80 percenter and his motivation tactics were all fear based. Any progress on the part of poor performers was born out of fear and short lived. Most ended up terminated in any event. Many of those who stayed with the company ended up robbing it blind. (Fight or flight anyone?)
It came as no surprise that the company ended up facing numerous legal exposures due to this manager’s tendency to misrepresent facts. He would promise things to employees and clients that he never followed up on. He also motivated the employees to work long hours without pay to make the numbers look good, an activity the company eventually paid dearly for.
All of us have seen these managers come and go. They are part of what we call the “million dollar executive club” and it’s not because of what they get paid…it’s because of the amount of damage they cause! Interestingly, these managers seldom get fired. That is that last thing they want on their resume. After they wear out their welcome and cause their damage, they typically move onto another unsuspecting employer, continually building their resume in the process. Because so many employers are afraid when asked for a reference to “tell it like it is,” these villainous executives usually escape without repercussion.
Why do we hire these people in the first place? In part because of our own fears. We rush to judgment because of our desperate needs, not because something necessarily feels right. If somebody feels like they have a strong energy it is important to ask them what techniques they employ to include others.
The typical mover and shaker will set up a sales incentive system that rewards only the top performer. That person will get a trip to Hawaii every year while everyone else is left behind. The problem with the “one winner and the rest losers” approach is that very little information gets shared. Very simply, there is no incentive for the top performer to become inclusive. That is a classic example of a system generating needless drama.
Holly has been successful selling high-ticket items to affluent customers because she views them as human beings first. She says that even rich people are human and have relationship needs. Unlike many people she is not intimidated by people who have money. She does not get caught up in whether she is accepted or rejected by them. She does not play a more than/less than game.
She is aware that many affluent clients are concerned about other people trying to use them. She is very concerned that many sales techniques go towards the manipulative, which is villainous in its nature. She believes that sales as a numbers game falls into The Plot, whereas sales as a relationship-building exercise does not.
Again, many successful and affluent people are 80 percenters because they are frightened and running for their lives. They fear what may happen if they stop and feel in the present moment. As Holly discovered, you can slow them down from their 80% energy by touching them at a personal level and making a heart connection.
Where do we all end after playing victim, villain, and hero, endlessly rehearsing a no-win situation? We can still use The Plot to discover the villain in us, become the inner hero, and save the victim inside which leads us to our hearts.
Then it is time to draw the curtain on the show of Goodness Triumphs Over Evil. The play has been the longest drama in the history of this planet but it is no longer useful for our personal or corporate growth. Ideas that once made a lot of sense cause plenty of harm when they outlive their purpose. The good old show falls into this category.
The final act of They Lived Happy Ever After takes too long to reach and ends too quickly. Now you need to learn how to create a life of joy, fun, and bliss for yourself and others. Today. In the present moment. The show will never teach you how to do this, as love and laughter were never part of its purpose. The aim of the drama was to increase your strength and your cleverness, a few minutes’ break was therefore all you needed in between the performances.
Don’t even wait for the final act of the show, run right off stage to the nearest exit. Why would you want to become a victim to suffer more? Why would you want to be a villain to yourself or another? Why would you want to feel unfairness, blame, and arrogance? Why would you ever want to work for a villain? Even trying too hard to save other victims as a hero also starts losing its luster after a while.
Even more, why would you want to languish in a poor relationship to be rewarded at the end with just a tiny morsel of love, when you have so much love in your own heart? Or work in a job that doesn’t call to your heart?
Maybe you’ll need to discover for yourself that indeed The Plot is the emotional educational system underlying your every action and reaction. Possibly you need time to become aware of The Plot yourself every time you pick up a newspaper, listen to the news, and look at your relationships at home or in the office.
Don’t dally around or else you may well get dragged back into The Plot. Leave! Have a farewell party and applaud the victim, villain, and hero in yourself and everyone else you know.
Start studying your new script with its stage directions of emotional heart space. It won’t be long before you’ll be living in your heart instead of unconscious drama and conflict luring you out to play. You’ll find your heart brimming over with creativity as your destiny unfolds.
Your greatest role is about to begin as you step onto your own stage of life as a conscious creator. This is when the real fun begins as a businessperson. You make money from what calls to your heart. No longer are you dependent on someone else’s emotional zest. You have your own as you create your own business magic.
Our new play is called As You Like It, and it’s by you, not by Shakespeare. We’ll look for you under the stars!
THE PLOT ~ A TRIBUTE TO LOY YOUNG
The timeless drama continues,
The Plot takes center stage.
Goodness Triumphs Over Evil,
Our emotions leading the way.
Victim, villain, and hero all act their parts,
We blame, we justify, we break each other’s hearts.
Playing roles we don’t quite understand,
Letting pain of the past ruin our perfect plans.
Tear off your mask!
Run out the stage door!
Get in touch with your deepest feelings;
You don’t need to be an actor anymore!
by Don Phin
The Plot: Dealing with Feelings
Victims, Villains, and Heroines
Based on research by Robert F. Young and Loy Young
She Never Said Goodbye
George Vernon Ellison and Loy Young
Loy Young and Francine Dufour
Building Powerful Employment Relationships!
LAWSUIT FREE! How to Prevent Employee Lawsuits
Illustrations by Francine Dufour