Practicing Humanism When You Are Angry

Being a good person is sometimes very hard. Especially when mad. The point of morality though, is to do the right thing, even when under stress.

This is why I describe Humanism as a practice. Yes. It’s a philosophy. But it’s also a moral framework through which I make decisions. This framework is only useful – if I actually use it.
Most of the time, that is easy. But sometimes it isn’t. Like when I get mad. It’s very hard to see the humanity in people who scare me and make me mad. Because let’s be clear – we get mad when we get scared.

Knowing this about myself and about everyone really, helps me to step back from my anger and think about the fear that is driving it so that I can think more rationally and therefore compassionately about the situation I find myself in.

Sure, I could blame the people scaring me. Or … I can remind myself to put my Humanism into practice and practice what I preach.   Sometimes this is easier to do than others.  But it is always eventually doable if I keep reminding myself that I should act in accordance with my values.

Do I do this perfectly? Oh heck no. No one does. This leaves all of us open to being called a hypocrite. And we all are. Every one of us. The next time you go all holier than thou on someone and you are ready to call them a hypocrite. Don’t. Look in the mirror first.  In order to claim the moral high ground, you must first be moral.  And that means, stepping back from your anger, reminding yourself of your values and making a conscious decision to use your values in deciding how best to respond to the situation that is scaring you and making you angry. The goal is to not kill your values with the very hands you use to defend them.  It’s a challenge to be sure, but taking on that challenge is what it means to be a moral person.

To learn more about how to more effectively live by your values – take my course – Living Made Simpler.

Overcoming challenges facing women in the workplace

One of the biggest challenges for women in the workplace is harassment - which can take many forms. 


At my last live training on how to use behavioral science to de-escalate conflicts, I got several questions from women that all amounted to the same thing.  How can I, as a woman, assert myself without being a bitch.  How can they stand up to their male colleagues, demand respect and be heard without pissing off the guys?  I get this question in some form in every single training I do. Sometimes it’s phrased as how do I stop being a doormat and stand my ground without being a jerk.

This shouldn't be a problem. Women should be able to assert themselves in the workplace without triggering a sexist response in others. But ... assertive women are viewed negatively by not just men, but by other women.

The solution to this problem has to
do with being professional and realizing that some men and some women can’t handle professional assertive women. At all.  That's the bad news.

The good news is that most can.

I’ve only ever been in 2 work environments where a man didn’t try to minimize my contribution simply because I’m female. It’s very very very common. My focus when dealing with these situations is not to try and fix the offending male, but making sure the other males – who aren’t jerks – understand my value. 

I do this by being professional and firm.  If something isn’t right or can’t be done in the timeframe or the request was inappropriate – I say no. Sorry – that can’t be done. Then I pivot to problem solving mode. Perhaps we can do this another way?  This technique is so simple I’m always surprised that more people don’t use it. 

Despite having been subject to attacks and rumors, I have always enjoyed the confidence and support of my supervisors. I don’t allow others to sideline me and I make sure the people who matter, know I matter. All by being professional and firm about my boundaries.

To learn more about how to win arguments without arguing - take my course on Socratic Jujitsu

Self Care in Divided Times

Pretty much every woman I speak to is stressed out. Really stressed out.  We are having trouble concentrating at work. We can’t seem to get work done in a timely manner. What’s up and how can we help ourselves?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that as a humanist – I really don’t like Trump. He scares me. Not only is he a bully that routinely dehumanizes people he disagrees with – he’s a bully, which means he also has autocratic dictatorial tendencies.  I happen to like democracy and human rights and things like that, so what this guy and his enablers might do to our democracy – has me worried.

Even if you like Trump, and many do, there are a lot of people who are just as worried about “liberals destroying America” as I am of Trump destroying America. And when you think about it, that’s a pretty sorry state of affairs. We are being played against each other by politicians and Putin. The solution to that is to remember we are all humans and not evil. We all pretty much want the same things.

But back to self care. Given our fear levels and stress levels and the need to safeguard all we hold near and dear, we need to engage in some serious self care. I don’t view self care as an abdication of my responsibilities to other. I view it as an important part of my activism.

By taking care of myself. By taking time to enjoy the little and big things in life. And yes, by getting on with the normalcy of life, I not only reduce my stress levels, I also remind myself what it is I am fighting for.

Albert Camus wrote and fought in WWII in Europe. He struggled to keep his humanity and to remember the humanity of the people he fought. And he wrote about his struggles to maintain a sense of beauty and humanity in himself during the struggles. His essay Return to Tipasa is about exactly this and I am linking to it here.

“For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shriveling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light.”

If you are struggling with anger – consider taking this course by Dr Leon Seltzer:

If you want to learn how to advocate for your positions without being a jerk about it take this one:

If you need help learning how to cope and integrate your values into your day to day life – take this one:

If you want to learn how to overcome your hidden biases against other people so you can once again view them as truly human – take this free course:

And finally, if you want to learn how to sort out the falsehood from truth – take this course:

What can restaurants do to better protect workers from harassment?

I teach how to stop harassment using behavioral psychology. We all know what the solutions are. Better reporting processes and responses. But what does that mean?

The way to stop harassment is to consistently deny the harasser their reward. This is problematic because most managers have never been taught how to do this. They assume things are personal problems instead of criminal problems. Because let’s be clear – harassment is a criminal matter!

 3 things need to happen.

1) Managers need to be trained on how to stop harassment situations so they can intervene more effectively.
2) HR needs to create reporting processes and investigation processes that are consistently applied because the random nature of how these things happen benefits the harasser.
3) There need to be real immediate consequences to anyone found guilty.

Harassers never have just one victim. These things aren’t personal, it’s a pattern of behavior. HR and managers tasked with dealing with this need to stop thinking of these things as occurring in isolation and if they find someone who has behaved badly – get rid of them.

To learn more – take one of my many courses on how to use behavioral science to stop harassment in the workplace.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...