Our world was created for harmony and peace. Yet shootings, injustice, bullying, terrorism, war erupt all around us. My heart breaks. When we share power, it leads to peace and prosperity.*
Thankfully I have “only” experienced shootings, terrorism, and war via the media. Unfortunately, like many of you, I cannot say the same for bullying and injustice.
“I am not assigning you the type of clients promised because you did not close out the virtual meeting room.” My boss, threatened by my higher credential and professional status, seemed to delight in pointing out my shortcomings (“putting me in my place”) including any tiny detail missed and thwarting my career goals. She called for yet another meeting where she could do the same.
Power over, rather than shared power, characterizes bullying and contributes to systemic injustice and racism. Bullying (and racism) is epidemic, in schools, families, workplaces, the internet and politics. Bullies pick on those they see as weak, deserving less, or threatening their power and status. I can identify with my coaching clients’ experiences with bullying, although thankfully my experiences have been rare, and I have not suffered from racist treatment.
How do you respond to those who do not want to share power? I invite you to consider these statements:
>I own my power as a precious creation and expect to be treated as such, even if I am not being treated that way.
>I tap into inner and other resources including allies who may speak up on my behalf and guidance from others, including my coach, letting go of trying to shoulder it all myself. Relief!
>When someone does not share power with me and others, I decide how I will handle that and follow through.
>I speak my truth with love, taking a stand for myself, my beliefs, my vision. I remember my voice matters!
2020 update: If you are experiencing frequent microaggressions, “death by a thousand cuts”, you may have to choose when to speak up, asking yourself these questions from Dr. Nadal’s Guide to Responding to Microaggressions:
If I respond, could my physical safety be in danger?
If I respond, will the person become defensive and will this lead to an argument?
If I respond, how will this affect my relationship with this person (e.g., co-worker, family member, etc.)
If I don’t respond, will I regret not saying something?
If I don’t respond, does that convey that I accept the behavior or statement?
I chose to have a “Fierce Conversation” with my boss. My boss threatened that would make it worse for me. I did not back down. My boss did not attack me in front of the Human Resources representative I requested to be in our next meeting. After several rounds of layoffs I was let go, which a colleague I had checked in with had predicted. I still felt good about following my process and taking a stand for myself. It was a relief to no longer be working with that boss. I am also aware of my privilege as a white, well educated professional, US citizen with financial resources who could afford to lose a job by speaking up, which has also resulted in fewer experiences of someone trying to exert power over me in a disrespectful and hurtful way.
I am not as proud of how I handled witnessing an injustice. On a long international flight, I noticed the flight attendant being especially harsh (tone of voice, calling out for minor infraction) with two young families of different ethnicities than herself (bias). As we were leaving, I acknowledged the parents for how well they handled their children on the long flight. I wish I had been more of an ally, speaking privately with the flight attendant, interrupting her harsh and unjust treatment, and followed up with a letter to the airlines. I wonder how often these families experienced injustice, if the flight attendant became aware of her bias and behavior and changed. These two incidents were over a decade ago, before additional training.**
My vision is unlocking all potential, so all can live in prosperity and peace.
I offer this as an intention, prayer; with love and hope:
Families sharing power leading to domestic harmony rather than spousal and child abuse
Power shared in schools leading to collaborative learning as bullying and systemic racism declines
Workers sharing power leading to prosperity increasing as conflict decreases*
Politicians sharing power leading to progress on beneficial legislation
Communities sharing power leading to more harmonious, equitable police/community relationships
World governments sharing power leading to peace instead of war.
Quadruple bottom line results! Sharing power contributes to peace, prosperity and sustainability rather than to the waste of resources, especially people — our most valuable resource. ** How this relates to prosperity and peace: “60-80% of all difficulties in organizations come from strained relationships among employees.” Zeynep Ilgaz, “Conflict Revolution: When Should Leaders Step In?” Forbes May 15, 2014) The organizational cost of bullying is $188,136 for a single, pre-escalated conflict, using the Dana Measure. I’ve been brought in to successfully deal with a bully, where the organization had been losing talent as a result, and we were able to turn this around. Cost of racism: in a study in Michigan, include billions in excess health care costs and lost productivity, crime related costs as well as lost earnings and state GDP.
When we share power and treat each other respectfully, teams, organizations, families, communities, nations experience less loss, including of talent, financial resources and greater engagement. Peace and prosperity increase.
How can you step into your shared power, promoting peace and prosperity through our coaching?
Leaders, want to check in on how power is shared in your organization, team and the impact? Contact me for a strategy session.
Coaches, increase you and your clients’ impact through our Culturally Confident Credentialing Mentor Coaching Program! Join our global cohort now to renew & advance your coaching & credentialing (is it expiring?) while earning ICF Continuing Coach Education and Mentor Coaching with the cutting cultural edge expected with the updated ICF competencies.
To our potential, prosperity and peace-we are in this together!
Thanks and see you next week,
Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW, MCC, LLC
CQ Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
#Unlockallpotential so all can live in prosperity and peace
**PS: This is an update of a July 28, 2016 blog, and my examples were from over a decade ago, and brought to mind when I participated in a White Privilege Coach Faculty group six years ago. I have also participated in The Open Table KC (their equation adresses power: Race prejudice + misuse/abuse of systemic/institutional power = racism) and Patti Digh‘s anti-racism classes, reading, discussions, am still learning and hope my response to injustices including racial have improved. I do not claim to always “get it right” and have accountability partners who have called my attention to cultural “oops” as shared in my “Cultural Oops: Starbucks, You & Me” blog.
In addition to writing and programs on bias, I am also taking action on some of the 75 steps found on this webpage https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
PSS: I realize not all cultures value shared power and some are more hierarchical.