Archive for July, 2010

Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate. In the next post, Sandra Lopez, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, will respond.

Tracy walked through the front door of her workplace and passed the desk of her VP’s top assistant. Sasha looked up from her computer but did not even acknowledge Tracy. She just went back to what she was doing earlier.

When Tracy first started working at XYZ Corp., she would always smile and greet Sasha but stopped after a few weeks. Sasha would only acknowledge her with a slight nod of her head and continue working. Tracy didn’t feel as though she should make an effort to keep being friendly to Sasha if Sasha wasn’t even trying to be cordial.

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Chronically stressed or happy at work – Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the chronic stress experienced by many people in today’s organizations. Much of that stress may be accounted for by tremendous workloads and pressures to produce in today’s organizations.

In Part 2, we talked about one organization, Zappos, an online shoe store, whose CEO seeks to reverse that trend by focusing on employee happiness. In his business model, happy employees provide better service and better service brings and keeps customers.

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Are you experiencing chronic stress at work — Part 2

In the previous blog entry, I asked, is  it is feasible for organizations to pay attention to their employees’ happiness and still produce results considering the tremendous pressures most organizations are under to show growth and cost savings in this economic climate.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an online shoe store, says he wouldn’t have it any other way. I have long been a fan of Zappos, ordering most of my shoes from them for several years now.

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A recurring conversation among my friends and clients is the staggering amount of work hours that people are now putting into their jobs. I talk with people who arrive at work by 6 or 6:30 a.m. and leave by 7 or 8 that evening. Add challenging workplace dynamics to the equation and they feel burned out at home and at work.

Yet with all this economic uncertainty, most are grateful to even have jobs. Their overwork is an undiscussable they wouldn’t dream of surfacing.

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While our personal troubles may feel very private to us, they may indeed reflect public issues for society as a whole.

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In the previous blog entry, I listed advantages of reaching out to others about our private troubles, despite our fears of exposure and shame. Suppose you know intellectually that reaching out is best for you, but you just can’t muster the willpower to do so. You feel scared of being negative judged or humiliated. As a matter of fact, you feel humiliated just having the problem or thinking you can’t handle it alone.

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When is it okay for people talk about their problems?

Most people say they don’t want to talk about their personal problems because they are too private.  Some people put talking about *any* problem with anyone at any time off limits.  They endure their troubles alone.  Others will talk only with a very few trusted friends and family members, keeping everyone else at bay.

Then there’s the common admonition about not being one’s personal problems to the job, so that talking about difficulties in doing one’s job or even undue stress at home is verboten.  The assumption is that we are supposed to already have the answers or be able to handle our jobs or take care of ourselves without anyone’s help.

Is that true?  Can we handle it all without help? 

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[Notice — this was originally published two weeks ago, but it somehow got deleted in the move to this URL.  I’m reposting it now for those of you who missed it.]

Most people I know–with one or two exceptions–think that multitasking does work for them. In fact, a friend of mine once proudly declared that she was excellent at it, having changed a diaper, baked a cake, and handled a business crisis over the phone, all within the same hour.

What the research says
Now there’s research to say that we are fooling ourselves.

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Thanks to those of you who successfully switched URLs from the old blog to this one.

Welcome to those of you who are here for the first time.

Just to introduce you to what’s here.  You will see that this blog has several new features:

  • A separate Welcome page, for those of you who are here for the first time — or those who may wonder to themselves, “Now what’s the point of this blog anyway?”
  • An “About Jean Latting” page, for those of you who want to know more about me.  This is an expanded version of what you can find at
  • A place to sign up (please!) so that we may know who you are and how to reach you.  Once a month, we will have a random drawing of those who signed up during the month.  The winner will be receive a free copy of Reframing Change.  We’ll send you periodic announcements about what is going on with Leading Consciously.
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