12-04-2014 by 

Today's workplaces can be very difficult environments for employees. We all experience stressors, responsibilities, deadlines, and complex social interactions at work. These difficulties can impact your mood, self-esteem, and fellow employees. If you are already not feeling well, going to work can be a significant problem for you. With Workplace Effectiveness Skills you can improve your workplace interactions, and ultimately your mood.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

The Workplace Effectiveness skillset presented here encompasses a set of skills that you can use to improve your self-esteem, and have better interactions with co-workers. This consists of two skill categories: Self-Respect Effectiveness, and Relationship Effectiveness. These skills are adapted from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). [1]

DBT consists of a set of therapeutic psychosocial techniques designed to help people alter ineffective behavior patterns. These techniques help people improve their emotional and cognitive states by learning about triggers that can lead to negative states. In addition this includes using methods designed to maintain or improve a positive outlook. [2]

Self-Respect Effectiveness

Self-Respect Effectiveness involves building your self-esteem, and respecting your values, while you attempt to achieve your goals. This includes acting so that you maintain your personal ethics, and acting in ways that encourage feelings of competence. The following diminish self-respect and self-esteem:

  • Sacrificing one's personal morals and ethics for the sake of approval.
  • Lying to help or please coworkers.
  • Acting or feeling helpless.

Relationship Effectiveness

Relationship Effectiveness is a set of techniques that you can use to maintain or even improve workplace interpersonal relationships while you try to get what you want. When this is achieved, people may tend to like or respect you more than before. These include:

  • Acting in ways that make a coworker want to give you what you are asking for.
  • Acting in ways that make a coworker feel positive about your saying no to their request.
  • Balancing immediate goals with what is good for you and what is good for a coworker.

Three Workplace Effectiveness Skills

The Workplace Effectiveness skills consist of three parts: getting something, giving something, and keeping self-respect. You need to practice these skills in order to be able to use them effectively. As with anything, the more you use it, the better you are at it. Try to memorize some of these skills, and practice them in low-importance situations before using them in higher-importance situations. Using these skills consistently will definitely help in improving your self-esteem, and thereby elevating your mood. (Note: These skills are adapted from [3].)

Getting Something

Following these steps will help you in getting something from one or more coworkers:

  • Examine the situation in detail.
  • Express why there is an issue, and how you feel about it.
  • Ask clearly for what you want.
  • Reinforce your position by offering positive consequences to a coworker if you were to get what you want.
  • Focus explicitly on your goals while avoiding unimportant distractions.
  • Try to appear confident, even if you don’t feel confident.
  • Negotiate with a hesitant coworker, and if possible, arrive at a mutually-beneficial compromise.

Giving Something

The following steps will help you in giving something to one or more coworkers:

  • Be gentle by using appropriate language, avoiding put-downs and sarcasm, while being courteous and non-judgmental.
  • Be interested when the coworker is talking. Act interested, maintaining eye contact, and asking questions.
  • Show that you understand the coworker's situation.
  • Be calm, use a little humor, and smile.

Keeping Self-Respect

The following steps will help you to keep your self-respect:

  • Be fair to both yourself and the coworker.
  • Don’t apologize more than once for errors that you may have made in the workplace.
  • Stay true to your morals and ethics. Don’t let others to influence you into acting against your values.
  • Don’t lie - lying can end up degrading your sense of self-respect, and damaging workplace relationships.

Tying it All Together

Understanding and using these skills can be difficult at first. Start small, perhaps gently trying the skills out at home, or with friends. As you grow more familiar with the skills, and feel surer of yourself, you will be able to apply these skills in more critical situations. Eventually, the skills may become something like a reflex for you.

In order to learn the skills effectively in the beginning, you can make and use flashcards. You can try to focus on just one facet of the skills per day, eventually bringing all of the skills together. As you are first using the skills, writing a detailed after-the-fact analysis of a situation in which you tried to use the skills will be very helpful, and will help you to understand how better to apply them.

Mood Keywords: success, future, self-esteem, work
 
Sources:
2. Linehan, M.; Dimeff, L., "Dialectical Behavior Therapy in a Nutshell," The California Psychologist, 2001.
3. McKay, M., et al, "The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook", New Harbinger Publications, 2007.
 
Image Credit: Michael Jung © 123RF.com (used under license)
 
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