Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us


4 Limiting Beliefs That Harm Workplace Relationships



October 14, 2020 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This has been a hard year. Between extreme political division, sheltering in place, and grieving the loss of life-as-we-knew-it, collective tension is at an all-time high. The world has changed incredibly rapidly, requiring companies to chart new courses and evolve. At work, this need for rapid change opens the door for conflicting opinions and strong viewpoints about the best path forward. Founders may find themselves at odds, teams may experience friction, and general tension pervades.

In our personal lives, day-to-day conversations can feel like navigating a minefield — dodging divisive topics and disagreements left and right. We can make a conscious choice either to grit through with as little friction as possible, or learn to leverage these opportunities to deepen our understanding of the world — starting with ourselves. 

The key to navigating these challenges begins with the right mindset. Here are four beliefs that sabotage our chances for growth when it comes to collaboration and building resilient relationships:

1. We get along best with people that we like

 Sure, it’s easier to find common ground when you like someone. Chances are, you’re drawn to people who share your beliefs, interests and personal style. But allowing these instincts to dictate your relationships will limit you. By surrounding yourself with people just like you, you cut off potential growth and shrink your world. Taking your judgment off auto-pilot requires a mindset change. Start by being curious about everything, especially people who are different from you. Make it a practice to suspend judgment and switch to discovery mode. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to be seen for who they are. Approach each person as an interesting book to read. Dig into understanding where they are coming from, why they hold their beliefs, and what they fear. Practicing this step takes conscious effort but is essential to building respect and genuine connection. Once that is in place, the learning can begin.

Related: 5 Tips for Turning Stressful Employee Relationships Around

2. We have a double standard for judging others and ourselves

Research shows that people form impressions of others in the blink of an eye — more specifically, a tenth of a second. In that split second, we make judgments about based on physical attributes alone. We continue to evaluate words and actions, making assumptions about why people behave the way they do. We view them through a lens of our own biases and preferences and assign meaning accordingly — often in negative ways when we dislike the behavior. This can quickly lead us to conclusions about a person’s overall character that close the door to learning who they really are and how to best collaborate with them.

In contrast, we are much more forgiving with ourselves. We judge ourselves according to our motives, which we typically see as positive. We can usually trace all of our behavior back to something that is good for us: achieving an important need or safeguarding ourselves against harm, for example. To combat this double standard, rather than judging others quickly, we can hit the pause button and stop to inquire. This conversation starts by explicitly naming the behaviors observed, followed by sincere questions about where the person is coming from. The key is to actively listen for feelings and personal meaning, not just facts. Listening with means listening with another person, not just to them. It begins with an intent to understand and support, rather than to judge. Through this, we can uncover a range of underlying needs and interests where we can look for common ground.

3. I can’t have your back if you don’t have mine

Conventional wisdom may guide us to protect our self-interest by sticking to the old adage, “What’s in it for me?” In today’s competitive workplace and contentious political environment, we are becoming even more suspicious about others’ intentions and more protective of what we share. In his book on reciprocity, “Give and Take”, author Adam Grant finds that there are three distinct types of people: givers, takers and matchers. He states that every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or do we contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return? Givers prefer to offer more than they receive, often jumping in and helping others meet their needs without a hidden agenda. Takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can do for them. Matchers will give proportionately to what they can get in return. Surprisingly, Grant’s studies conclude that of all three styles, it’s the givers who most succeed. If we extend this theory into the current political climate, our culture is on a crash course toward massive failure. On Grant’s theory, the best way forward is to break through the forced choice between winners and losers, good guys and bad. Instead, we need to move toward creative solutions that only come from a deeper understanding of all parties’ interests. This change inevitably involves being the first to reach out and become a giver. Giving can simply start with listening. “Empathy is free” It costs us nothing to make time to seek to understand another human being.

Related: Factors Damaging Employee Relations, As Defined by Industry …

Conflict is damaging to relationships

Most of us have been socialized to avoid conflict. From childhood, we are told to play nice, be positive, and help others. In fact, agreeableness happens to be one of the “Big Five Personalities” that psychologists have found to determine a person’s success in life. We are also conditioned to avoid discomfort. Consequently, many of us grow up to be optimistic people-pleasers who bury painful truths (small and large) under the cover of artificial harmony. According to marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, unhappy couples wait an average of six years before getting help. That’s over 2,000 days of resentment that amasses before beginning the important work of learning to resolve differences effectively. So what are we so afraid of? Perhaps the fear is that these conversations can devolve into aggressive encounters that hurt feelings and yield no results. Certainly, the forms of violent communication we are experiencing today, where mean-spirited attacks are used to coerce, shame, inhibit, and generally deny the needs and liberties of others, are not productive. Healthy conflict involves the acknowledgment of brutal facts and difficult feelings, a willingness to put them on the table, and skill in dialogue rather than debate, where all parties can speak up and be heard. 

We have to accept that conflict is a useful part of life, a necessary catalyst for transformative change. Over many years of supporting organizations through growing pains, I have found that the first, critical step in facilitating healthy conflict is establishing a common language for understanding and communicating with others. There are predictable patterns and differences in how people perceive and approach each other; some people will “speak your language” and others will appear foreign to your instincts and motivations. These differences can easily be misread and result in pushing the buttons that can degenerate into violent communication. 

There are many ways of building a foundation for healthy relationships; in conjunction with the practices listed above, I use a tool called Elements at my firm (and in my family) to help people jump-start their understanding of the best way to read and collaborate with people unlike them. Find a framework that works for you and see how a curious mindset, combined with these simple tools, can guide you through relationship challenges, now and in the times ahead.

Related: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Handle Office Romances …


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Trump campaign celebrated a growth record that Democrats downplayed.



The White House celebrated economic growth numbers for the third quarter released on Thursday, even as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign sought to throw cold water on the report — the last major data release leading up to the Nov. 3 election — and warned that the economic recovery was losing steam.

The economy grew at a record pace last quarter, but the upswing was a partial bounce-back after an enormous decline and left the economy smaller than it was before the pandemic. The White House took no notice of those glum caveats.

“This record economic growth is absolute validation of President Trump’s policies, which create jobs and opportunities for Americans in every corner of the country,” Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign said in a statement, highlighting a rebound of 33.1 percent at an annualized rate. Mr. Trump heralded the data on Twitter, posting that he was “so glad” that the number had come out before Election Day.

The annualized rate that the White House emphasized extrapolates growth numbers as if the current pace held up for a year, and risks overstating big swings. Because the economy’s growth has been so volatile amid the pandemic, economists have urged focusing on quarterly numbers.

Those showed a 7.4 percent gain in the third quarter. That rebound, by far the biggest since reliable statistics began after World War II, still leaves the economy short of its pre-pandemic levels. The pace of recovery has also slowed, and now coronavirus cases are rising again across much of the United States, raising the prospect of further pullback.

“The recovery is stalling out, thanks to Trump’s refusal to have a serious plan to deal with Covid or to pass a new economic relief plan for workers, small businesses and communities,” Mr. Biden’s campaign said in a release ahead of Thursday’s report. The rebound was widely expected, and the campaign characterized it as “a partial return from a catastrophic hit.”

Economists have warned that the recovery could face serious roadblocks ahead. Temporary measures meant to shore up households and businesses — including unemployment insurance supplements and forgivable loans — have run dry. Swaths of the service sector remain shut down as the virus continues to spread, and job losses that were temporary are increasingly turning permanent.

“With coronavirus infections hitting a record high in recent days and any additional fiscal stimulus unlikely to arrive until, at the earliest, the start of next year, further progress will be much slower,” Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note following the report.


Continue Reading


Black and Hispanic workers, especially women, lag in the U.S. economic recovery.



The surge in economic output in the third quarter set a record, but the recovery isn’t reaching everyone.

Economists have long warned that aggregate statistics like gross domestic product can obscure important differences beneath the surface. In the aftermath of the last recession, for example, G.D.P. returned to its previous level in early 2011, even as poverty rates remained high and the unemployment rate for Black Americans was above 15 percent.

Aggregate statistics could be even more misleading during the current crisis. The job losses in the initial months of the pandemic disproportionately struck low-wage service workers, many of them Black and Hispanic women. Service-sector jobs have been slow to return, while school closings are keeping many parents, especially mothers, from returning to work. Nearly half a million Hispanic women have left the labor force over the last three months.

“If we’re thinking that the economy is recovering completely and uniformly, that is simply not the case,” said Michelle Holder, an economist at John Jay College in New York. “This rebound is unevenly distributed along racial and gender lines.”

The G.D.P. report released Thursday doesn’t break down the data by race, sex or income. But other sources make the disparities clear. A pair of studies by researchers at the Urban Institute released this week found that Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to have lost jobs or income since March, and were twice as likely as white adults to experience food insecurity in September.

The financial impact of the pandemic hit many of the families that were least able to afford it, even as white-collar workers were largely spared, said Michael Karpman, an Urban Institute researcher and one of the studies’ authors.

“A lot of people who were already in a precarious position before the pandemic are now in worse shape, whereas people who were better off have generally been faring better financially,” he said.

Federal relief programs, such as expanded unemployment benefits, helped offset the damage for many families in the first months of the pandemic. But those programs have mostly ended, and talks to revive them have stalled in Washington. With virus cases surging in much of the country, Mr. Karpman warned, the economic toll could increase.

“There could be a lot more hardship coming up this winter if there’s not more relief from Congress, with the impact falling disproportionately on Black and Hispanic workers and their families,” he said.


Continue Reading


Ant Challenged Beijing and Prospered. Now It Toes the Line.



As Jack Ma of Alibaba helped turn China into the world’s biggest e-commerce market over the past two decades, he was also vowing to pull off a more audacious transformation.

“If the banks don’t change, we’ll change the banks,” he said in 2008, decrying how hard it was for small businesses in China to borrow from government-run lenders.

“The financial industry needs disrupters,” he told People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, a few years later. His goal, he said, was to make banks and other state-owned enterprises “feel unwell.”

The scope of Mr. Ma’s success is becoming clearer. The vehicle for his financial-technology ambitions, an Alibaba spinoff called Ant Group, is preparing for the largest initial public offering on record. Ant is set to raise $34 billion by selling its shares to the public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to stock exchange documents released on Monday. After the listing, Ant would be worth around $310 billion, much more than many global banks.

The company is going public not as a scrappy upstart, but as a leviathan deeply dependent on the good will of the government Mr. Ma once relished prodding.

More than 730 million people use Ant’s Alipay app every month to pay for lunch, invest their savings and shop on credit. Yet Alipay’s size and importance have made it an inevitable target for China’s regulators, which have already brought its business to heel in certain areas.

These days, Ant talks mostly about creating partnerships with big banks, not disrupting or supplanting them. Several government-owned funds and institutions are Ant shareholders and stand to profit handsomely from the public offering.

The question now is how much higher Ant can fly without provoking the Chinese authorities into clipping its wings further.

Excitable investors see Ant as a buzzy internet innovator. The risk is that it becomes more like a heavily regulated “financial digital utility,” said Fraser Howie, the co-author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”

“Utility stocks, as far as I remember, were not the ones to be seen as the most exciting,” Mr. Howie said.

Ant declined to comment, citing the quiet period demanded by regulators before its share sale.

The company has played give-and-take with Beijing for years. As smartphone payments became ubiquitous in China, Ant found itself managing huge piles of money in Alipay users’ virtual wallets. The central bank made it park those funds in special accounts where they would earn minimal interest.

After people piled into an easy-to-use investment fund inside Alipay, the government forced the fund to shed risk and lower returns. Regulators curbed a plan to use Alipay data as the basis for a credit-scoring system akin to Americans’ FICO scores.

China’s Supreme Court this summer capped interest rates for consumer loans, though it was unclear how the ceiling would apply to Ant. The central bank is preparing a new virtual currency that could compete against Alipay and another digital wallet, the messaging app WeChat, as an everyday payment tool.

Ant has learned ways of keeping the authorities on its side. Mr. Ma once boasted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about never taking money from the Chinese government. Today, funds associated with China’s social security system, its sovereign wealth fund, a state-owned life insurance company and the national postal carrier hold stakes in Ant. The I.P.O. is likely to increase the value of their holdings considerably.

“That’s how the state gets its payoff,” Mr. Howie said. With Ant, he said, “the line between state-owned enterprise and private enterprise is highly, highly blurred.”

China, in less than two generations, went from having a state-planned financial system to being at the global vanguard of internet finance, with trillions of dollars in transactions being made on mobile devices each year. Alipay had a lot to do with it.

Alibaba created the service in the early 2000s to hold payments for online purchases in escrow. Its broader usefulness quickly became clear in a country that mostly missed out on the credit card era. Features were added and users piled in. It became impossible for regulators and banks not to see the app as a threat.

ImageAnt Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
Credit…Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock

A big test came when Ant began making an offer to Alipay users: Park your money in a section of the app called Yu’ebao, which means “leftover treasure,” and we will pay you more than the low rates fixed by the government at banks.

People could invest as much or as little as they wanted, making them feel like they were putting their pocket change to use. Yu’ebao was a hit, becoming one of the world’s largest money market funds.

The banks were terrified. One commentator for a state broadcaster called the fund a “vampire” and a “parasite.”

Still, “all the main regulators remained unanimous in saying that this was a positive thing for the Chinese financial system,” said Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“If you can’t actually reform the banks,” Mr. Chorzempa said, “you can inject more competition.”

But then came worries about shadowy, unregulated corners of finance and the dangers they posed to the wider economy. Today, Chinese regulators are tightening supervision of financial holding companies, Ant included. Beijing has kept close watch on the financial instruments that small lenders create out of their consumer loans and sell to investors. Such securities help Ant fund some of its lending. But they also amplify the blowup if too many of those loans aren’t repaid.

“Those kinds of derivative products are something the government is really concerned about,” said Tian X. Hou, founder of the research firm TH Data Capital. Given Ant’s size, she said, “the government should be concerned.”

The broader worry for China is about growing levels of household debt. Beijing wants to cultivate a consumer economy, but excessive borrowing could eventually weigh on people’s spending power. The names of two of Alipay’s popular credit functions, Huabei and Jiebei, are jaunty invitations to spend and borrow.

Huang Ling, 22, started using Huabei when she was in high school. At the time, she didn’t qualify for a credit card. With Huabei’s help, she bought a drone, a scooter, a laptop and more.

The credit line made her feel rich. It also made her realize that if she actually wanted to be rich, she had to get busy.

“Living beyond my means forced me to work harder,” Ms. Huang said.

First, she opened a clothing shop in her hometown, Nanchang, in southeastern China. Then she started an advertising company in the inland metropolis of Chongqing. When the business needed cash, she borrowed from Jiebei.

Online shopping became a way to soothe daily anxieties, and Ms. Huang sometimes racked up thousands of dollars in Huabei bills, which only made her even more anxious. When the pandemic slammed her business, she started falling behind on her payments. That cast her into a deep depression.

Finally, early this month, with her parents’ help, she paid off her debts and closed her Huabei and Jiebei accounts. She felt “elated,” she said.

China’s recent troubles with freewheeling online loan platforms have put the government under pressure to protect ordinary borrowers.

Ant is helped by the fact that its business lines up with many of the Chinese leadership’s priorities: encouraging entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, and expanding the middle class. This year, the company helped the eastern city of Hangzhou, where it is based, set up an early version of the government’s app-based system for dictating coronavirus quarantines.

Such coziness is bound to raise hackles overseas. In Washington, Chinese tech companies that are seen as close to the government are radioactive.

In January 2017, Eric Jing, then Ant’s chief executive, said the company aimed to be serving two billion users worldwide within a decade. Shortly after, Ant announced that it was acquiring the money transfer company MoneyGram to increase its U.S. footprint. By the following January, the deal was dead, thwarted by data security concerns.

More recently, top officials in the Trump administration have discussed whether to place Ant Group on the so-called entity list, which prohibits foreign companies from purchasing American products. Officials from the State Department have suggested that an interagency committee, which also includes officials from the departments of defense, commerce and energy, review Ant for the potential entity listing, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Ant does not talk much anymore about expanding in the United States.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.


Continue Reading