Handling Shame

Handling Shame

Last week, we talked through what shame can look / feel/ sound like in the workplace.

Our homework assignment was to identify where you’ve experienced shame and to see that shame is not just a word but something that all of us have experienced in our life.

So, take a deep breath – let’s jump back in!

Get a Handle On It

Shame crushes team member engagement. It’s the single-highest contributor to employee turnover. If it’s present in your workplace, and you don’t get a handle on it, then your organization will eat itself from the inside out.

The pathway out of shame is authentic and intentional vulnerability.

And, by vulnerability we mean openness – the willingness to share what you are really thinking and feeling.

Not just those thoughts or feelings that you think (or know) will be widely accepted, but also the ones that are a little edgier or that make you feel a little (or a lot) more open or exposed than you would really prefer to be.

Shame cannot live in vulnerability. They cancel each other out.

In an article for Fast Company, Brené Brown says:

When the culture of an organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of individuals or communities, you can be certain that shame is systemic, money drives ethics, and accountability is dead.

Here are three ways to battle shame if you think it has a hold at your workplace:

  1. Think about it. Where is it impacting your workplace? Are there certain meetings, teams, or people that are encouraging this type of damaging behavior?
  2. Talk about it. Support others who have the courage to have authentic conversations about shame and acceptance in the workplace.
  3. Be patient. Though shame can be born in an instance, it’s not eradicated overnight. Be clear about your expectations regarding honest and vulnerable interactions. Model it. With the power of vulnerability, your culture can change from one of shame to one of thriving creativity, employee engagement, and innovation.

So, think about it and pick one person with whom you can choose to have an authentic conversation!

Want to Know More?

Check out Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, a resourceful guide to wholeheartedness by honestly confronting your shame and invulnerability as a leader, teacher, parent, and human.

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