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Workplace Harassment



Personal Development : The Power Of Routine (2)

Akindotun Merino
Workplace harassment is illegal and destructive to any organization. It is important to treat everyone in the workplace with respect and dignity. Workplace harassment must be identified, discouraged, and prevented in order to keep a hostile work environment from developing. Left unchecked, harassment can escalate into violence. Legally, harassment is any word, gesture, or action that offends people or makes them feel uncomfortable or intimidated. You never know how sensitive people are, so never say or do anything if you are not sure how it will be received.

There are many ways to harass co-workers or employees. The rights of all citizens are legally protected, regardless of sex, age, health, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, or beliefs. Harassment occurs when someone from one group feels discriminated against by another. Be careful, and remember that you never know what people are feeling or thinking. It is possible to accidentally offend those who work with you.

Physical Harassment: This includes gestures, actions, and contact that can be sexual or threatening. Even well-meant gestures like a hug constitute harassment if they make a person uncomfortable. Do not touch people at work or invade their personal space.

Emotional Harassment: Threats, comments, degrading tones, and jokes are all workplace harassment. Avoid volatile subjects, and consider the ramifications of different jokes.

Harassment costs businesses millions every year. Many laws allow people to sue their companies for workplace harassment. Failing to protect employees can result in a high price to pay. Not only are there litigation fees, but psychological ramifications cost businesses as well. The cost to your business is not always monetary, it can cost reputation. A company losing its reputation can have an effect on many aspects of business. The company may lose customers, valuable employees, and not attract prospective new hires.

READ ALSO: Recognizing Anxiety In The Workplace

Legal fees are a costly factor for businesses that face harassment charges. Companies are responsible for protecting their employees from managers, co-workers, vendors, and clients. Sexual harassment is the responsibility of the company when it is quid pro quo, which means that the sexual favors are exchanged for jobs, promotions, or raises. Businesses are also responsible if they are known to promote a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment occurs when management does nothing to prevent harassment. In a legal battle, employers must prove that they used “reasonable care” to prevent and address harassment issues.

Harassment and bullying take a psychological toll on everyone in the workplace. A survey from the American Psychological Association revealed that 74 percent of Americans believe that work causes most of their stress. The stress from harassment can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and sleeplessness. Harassment, particularly sexual harassment, is linked to post-traumatic stress disorder. Companies lose money in sick days, poor commitment, low productivity, and turnover when workplace harassment is not prevented and addressed immediately.

Bullying is not limited to the playground, and ignoring bullies will not make them leave you alone. Bullies are a growing problem in the workplace. Those who bully others do so with malicious intent. Unlike other harassment issues, bullies know that they are being cruel. Only 20 percent of bullying is considered illegal harassment because 80 percent of bullies do not harass people in other groups. In fact, 71 percent of bullies are women who target other women.

Bullies often target high-performing employees and attempt to destroy them out of fear or jealousy. They manipulate using fear, and will often turn other employees against their target. Bullying has the same results as other harassment practices. Managers are often guilty of bullying their employees.

READ ALSO: Coping Strategies For Workplace Anxieties

Bullying Behavior:

  • Continually changing job parameters
  • Spreading gossip and rumors
  • Creating impossible standards or deadlines
  • Isolating an individual
  • Threats of job loss
  • Spying on or stalking a target
  • Yelling at a target who is not permitted to yell back
  • Belittling or disregarding opinions and feelings
  • Preventing promotions and transfers
  • Intruding in a person’s workspace or belongings
  • Misinforming the target.

Many bullies have personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and narcissism. Having a personality disorder is not an excuse to behave badly. Some bullies with personality disorders are not aware of their actions, but others choose to manipulate the people around them. Serial bullies were often bullies in school, and they usually have fake personas to hide their cruelty from the people they want to manipulate.
Those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder are over 18 and have shown conduct disorders before they were 15.

  • Not conforming to social customs or laws
  • Consistently being deceitful (may use more than one identity)
  • Impulsive and irresponsible (will usually have credit problems)
  • Irritable and unable to empathize.
  • Disregards personal safety and the safety of others

READ ALSO: Recognizing Anxiety In The Workplace

Many bullies show the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. This is more common than other personality disorders. They overcompensate for their lack of confidence with a grandiose, self-important view. Narcissists think highly of themselves, need attention, and lack empathy. There are nine indicators of narcissism. A diagnosis requires five of the nine criteria.

  • Arrogance
  • Fantasies that revolve around power, success, beauty, or love
  • Are sure that only a few elite can understand them
  • Need to be appreciated and admired
  • Feels entitled and demands that people comply with their whims
  • Exploit people around them
  • Cannot empathize with others
  • Are jealous of others and believe others are jealous of them
  • Have a self-important attitude

Workplace harassment training is essential to the welfare of all businesses and their employees. Allowing workplace harassment to continue will cause legal problems while destroying company morale. Many people are uncertain about what constitutes harassment, and they are confused when their actions are pointed out as demeaning. It is imperative for organization leaders to create safe working spaces for employees and customers.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. Share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Jars Education Group
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Personal Development: The Power Of Routine (2)



Personal Development : The Power Of Routine (2)


Akindotun Merino

For most people, the word “routine” typically conjures up an image of a boring, repetitive life, with every moment controlled and managed, and no room for spontaneity. Routines and rituals, however, can actually help increase the spontaneity and fun in your life. Because routine tasks are already planned for, you have more energy to spend on the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals and bring more joy to your life.

The Random House Dictionary defines a routine as, “any practice, or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.”

In fact, you can build any type of routine in three easy steps.

  1. Identify the Task. Let’s say you want to build an exercise routine.
  2. Identify the Time and/or Trigger. For example, perhaps you normally exercise right after work.
  3. Identify the Sub-Tasks. For you, perhaps your routine involves going to the gym, getting changed, stretching, doing 45 minutes on the treadmill, performing three reps of weights, and doing a lap around the pool to finish things off. Then, you shower and go home.

Remember, a routine shouldn’t be set in stone. Once you establish a routine, it can be modified at any point in time, depending on what works for you. With our exercise example, you could easily decide to exercise before work or even at lunch and still use the basic task and sub-tasks.

Sleep, meals, and exercise form the building blocks of our lives. Without this stable foundation, other personal productivity efforts won’t be as successful. Here are some ideas.

  • Sleep: Establish a routine for half an hour before you sleep. This might include creating a to-do list for the next day, enjoying a cup of tea, taking a warm bath, and or performing some stretches. All of these activities will help you wind down and sleep better. It is best to try to go to bed at around the same time every night, too.
  • Meals: Take a half hour each weekend to plan meals for the next week, including lunches and suppers. Then, make a grocery list and get everything you will need. Appliances like slow cookers and delayed-start ovens can also help you make sure supper is ready when you are.
  • Exercise: Try to exercise for one hour three times a week, or half an hour each day. One easy way is to go for a brisk walk at lunch, or do yoga in the morning before work.

Here are some routines that many people find helpful in maximizing their time in the office:

Instead of checking e-mail, news, and Web sites throughout the day, set aside one or several periods (for example, morning, noon, and at the end of the day). Then, batch and sequence your activities (for example, e-mail, news, and industry journals). You can batch many types of tasks in this way for maximum efficiency.

Set up a system for maintaining your task tracking system. This can be as simple as five minutes in the morning to update the day’s list, five minutes at noon to update what you have done already, and five minutes at day’s end to evaluate today and create a starting list for tomorrow.

In the morning, perform your tasks in an organized, routine manner. You can also lay out your clothes and prepare your lunch the night before for maximum efficiency.

READ ALSO: Personal Development: Getting Smart Goals (1)

Six Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life

With some creative thinking, you can reduce the number of items on your to-do list. Here are our top six suggestions.

Pay someone else to do it. Evaluate the time you spend on household chores and decide whether it is worth it to pay someone else to do it. A service near my home will wash, dry, sort, and fold a load of laundry for only five dollars! We also pay a neighborhood kid ten dollars a week to mow our lawn.

Use electronic banking. Today, nearly all banks offer automatic bill payments. If you have bills that are the same amount and due at the same time at regular intervals, set up automatic payments so you don’t have to pay it yourself. Just make sure that you have the money in your account at the required time.

Keep everyone organized. If you share your household with roommates, a spouse, or children, keep a calendar in a central location (such as on the fridge) so that everyone can record important dates and appointments. Advance notice means better planning and improved efficiency.

Plan your meals. Planning meals in advance (both lunches and suppers) will save you time, money, and energy. Try making soups, chili, or casseroles on the weekend and freezing them for use during the week.

Take advantage of shortcuts. Our world is filled with shortcuts: everything from speed dial, to ready-made salad kits, to automatic television recording, can save you a few seconds here and there. It all adds up!

Save the difference. The motto of the super-sized Duggar family is, “Buy used and save the difference.” You can do the same thing with newfound minutes: save them up during the day and use them to work towards one of your goals.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

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Mental Health

Personal Development: Getting Smart Goals (1)



Personal Development : The Power Of Routine (2)


Akindotun Merino

Most people find that they wish they had more time in a day. It is important to learn how to organize our lives and find those hidden moments for self care.  Mental wellness happens when we learn to establish routines, set goals, create an efficient environment, and use time-honored planning and organizational tools to maximize their personal productivity.

Goal setting is critical to your personal productivity. It is the single most important life skill that, unfortunately, most people never learn how to do properly. Goal setting can be used in every single area of your life, including financial, physical, personal development, relationships, or even spiritual. According to Brian Tracy’s book Goals, fewer than 3% of people have clear, written goals, and a plan for getting there. Setting goals puts you ahead of the pack!

Some people blame everything that goes wrong in their life on something or someone else. They take the role of a victim and they give all their power and control away. Successful people instead dedicate themselves towards taking responsibility for their lives, no matter what the unforeseen or uncontrollable events. Live in the present: the past cannot be changed, and the future is the direct result of what you do right now!

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety: Coping Strategies (3)

Setting meaningful, long-term goals is a giant step toward achieving your dreams. In turn, setting and achieving short-term goals can help you accomplish the tasks you’ll need to achieve the long-term ones. It is also important to make sure that all of your goals unleash the power of the three P’s:

  • Positive: Who could get fired up about a goal such as “Find a career that’s not boring”? Goals should be phrased positively, so they help you feel good about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish. A better alternative might be this: “Enroll in pre-law classes so I can help people with legal problems someday.”
  • Personal: Goals must be personal. They must reflect your own dreams and values, not those of friends, family, or the media. When crafting your goal statement, always use the word “I” in the sentence to brand it as your own. When your goals are personal, you’ll be more motivated to succeed and take greater pride in your accomplishments.
  • Possible: When setting goals, be sure to consider what’s possible and within your control. Getting into an Ivy League university may be possible if you are earning good grades but unrealistic if you’re struggling. In the latter case, a more reasonable goal might be to attend a university or trade school that offers courses related to your chosen career. You might also pursue volunteer work that would strengthen your college applications.

SMART is a convenient acronym for the set of criteria that a goal must have in order for it to be realized by the goal achiever.

  • Specific: Success coach Jack Canfield states in his book The Success Principles that, “Vague goals produce vague results.” In order for you to achieve a goal, you must be very clear about what exactly you want. Often, creating a list of benefits that the accomplishment of your goal will bring to your life, will give your mind a compelling reason to pursue that goal.
  • Measurable: It’s crucial for goal achievement that you are able to track your progress towards your goal. That’s why all goals need some form of objective measuring system so that you can stay on track and become motivated when you enjoy the sweet taste of quantifiable progress.
  • Achievable: Setting big goals is great, but setting unrealistic goals will just de-motivate you. A good goal is one that challenges, but is not so unrealistic that you have virtually no chance of accomplishing it.
  • Relevant: Before you even set goals, it’s a good idea to sit down and define your core values and your life purpose because it’s these tools which ultimately decide how and what goals you choose for your life. Goals, in and of themselves, do not provide any happiness. Goals that are in harmony with our life purpose do have the power to make us happy.
  • Timed: Without setting deadlines for your goals, you have no real compelling reason or motivation to start working on them. By setting a deadline, your subconscious mind begins to work on that goal, night and day, to bring you closer to achievement.

READ ALSO: Personal Development: Workspaces (5)

Achieving challenging goals requires a lot of mental energy. Instead of spreading yourself thin by focusing on several goals at once, invest your mental focus on one goal, the most important goal right now. When you are prioritizing, choose a goal that will have the greatest impact on your life compared to how long it will take to achieve. A large part of goal setting is not just identifying what you want, but also identifying what you must give up in your life in order to get it. Most people are unwilling to make a conscious decision to give up the things in their life necessary to achieve their goals.

As we change and grow, our goals should change too. When you reach the target date set out in your goal, look at what you have achieved. Here is a checklist to help you out.

  • What percentage of my goal did I achieve?
  • Why did I achieve that percentage?
  • What would I do differently next time?
  • What is my next step?
  • What other goals might need to change now?

In addition, keep an eye on new trends and ideas around you – you might just find one that will change your life.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. She is the President of Jars Institute.  Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Jars Education Group

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Mental Health

Personal Development: Workspaces (5)



Personal Development : The Power Of Routine (2)


 Akindotun Merino

In order to be the most productive that you can be, you must create the appropriate environment. This module will give you some ideas for creating an effective, ergonomic workspace in any office

One key aspect of an effective workspace is the physical layout. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure your chair provides sufficient support.
  • If possible, position the desk so that it receives maximum natural light. Make sure that light doesn’t point at the monitor or in your face.
  • Keep your desk as clear as possible. Store tools and papers where they belong. Make a habit of cleaning off your desk at the end of each day.
  • Do a complete clean and reorganization of your workspace once or twice a year.
  • Place the telephone within easy reach. Keep mugs and glasses away from electronics.
  • Try to have an area for your computer and an empty workspace. L-shaped desks are ideal for this.
  • Make your workspace a pleasant place to be. Plants, pictures, unlit candles, and small fishbowls are ideal for any work area. (If you’re bringing items into an office, check company policy first.)
  • Focus on the changes that you can make. Keep your eyes open for new ideas.

Ergonomics is the study of how workers relate to their environment. It has been proven that particular factors can increase or decrease the risk of certain injuries and conditions, such as repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s), back problems, and eye problems.

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety: Coping Strategies (3)

Here are some things that you can adjust to make your workspace more ergonomic.

  • Keep your back straight.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest.
  • Chair arm rests, back pads, and keyboard wrist rests can help to decrease muscle strain.
  • Ensure your monitor is tilted at a comfortable viewing angle. (Some people prefer to place it directly on the desk, while others find that a monitor stand eases neck strain.)
  • Use natural light when possible.
  • Most importantly, pay attention to your body. If you develop aches and pains, it may be a sign that your workspace needs to be adjusted. You may also need to consult your doctor for specialized treatment.

To use your computer most efficiently, customize your working areas as much as you can. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Organize your Start menu so that you can easily find the applications you need.
  • Keep your virtual desktop like your real desk – organized and clutter-free.
  • Customize toolbars on your desktop and within applications to place frequently used commands at your fingertips.
  • Make use of applications that automate tasks for you, particularly computer maintenance tasks.

As with your physical workspace, your company may limit your customization capabilities. Stay positive and focus on the changes that you can make, and the positive effects that those have.

Being able to find a particular piece of information when you need it is essential to being productive. Some studies estimate that people spend up to an hour and a half each day looking for things! This module will give you some ways to keep your files organized.

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety: Recognizing Symptoms (2)

To retrieve materials quickly, you’ll need an effective filing system that includes three basic kinds of files:

  1. Working files: Materials used frequently and needed close at hand.
  2. Reference files: Information needed only occasionally.
  3. Archival files: Materials seldom retrieved but that must be kept. For ease of retrieval, organize files in the simplest way possible. For example, you could label files with a one or two word tag and arrange the files alphabetically.

Even with advanced search tools, it is important to organize your computer files (including your e-mail) in a way that makes sense to you and enables you to retrieve information quickly. One of the most common ways of organizing electronic files is to create a folder for each project or task and then create sub-folders as appropriate. (For e-mail, you may want to create folders for correspondence with particular people.)

To take organization a step further, use operating system or search program features like keywords, tags, jump lists, and virtual folders.

In order to keep your files organized, you must clean up and archive your files regularly. Set a consistent date and put a reminder in your calendar. This could be at the end of each month, the end of each quarter, or at the beginning of each year – it depends on what works for you.

For paper files, go through your working and reference files and move any old items to archive files, being sure to label and store them consistently. Likewise, go through your archive files and see if you can throw anything out. (Be sure to shred sensitive documents.)

For electronic files, there are many applications to help you archive your data. Many e-mail applications offer an automatic archive feature. Likewise, you can move files to a CD, DVD, or external storage area. This is also a good time to perform a backup of your entire system.

E-mail can be a great time-saver, but it can also be a great time waster, too. This module will give you some tools to manage your e-mail time wisely. We’ll also look at how to take back your life from your handheld device.

Like other routine tasks (such as returning phone calls, handling paper mail, and checking voice mail), e-mail is best handled in batches at regularly scheduled times of the day. We suggest setting aside a period of time at the beginning of the day, right before or after lunch, and at the end of the day. During that period, focus on getting your inbox cleaned out. If you can’t get it all done during your designated time frame, decide whether to extend the time frame, let it wait until your next e-mail session, or use the five-minute rule and work on it throughout the day.

If your business requires you to be more responsive, try setting your e-mail program to download e-mail every 30 to 60 minutes, rather than every minute. This will prevent you from being distracted and help you maintain a more continuous workflow.

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety: Understand The Situation (4)

When reviewing your e-mail, try to take action right away to keep your inbox as clear as possible. You can:

  • Read it, and then file or delete it
  • Reply to it and then file it
  • Delete it without taking any other action (appropriate for junk mail)
  • Forward it and file it
  • Mark it for follow-up (appropriate when you need to gather information before replying)

You might not know it, but your e-mail program can probably take over some of your daily tasks. Most e-mail programs include tools to save you time and reduce the time you spend dealing with e-mail.

Our favorite features include:

  • Custom folders (much like the folders on your hard drive)
  • Rules to move e-mails to folders, or perform other actions upon certain triggers
  • Colored flags, including follow-up flags with reminders
  • Categories or keywords
  • Search tools
  • Junk mail filtering
  • Auto-archive and e-mail cleanup
  • Integrated task, calendar, and contact management systems

Our challenge to you: take five minutes each day to see what your e-mail program can do for you!

Procrastination means delaying a task (or even several tasks) that should be a priority. The ability to overcome procrastination and tackle the important actions that have the biggest positive impact in your life is a hallmark of the most successful people out there.

There are many reasons why we tend to procrastinate, including:

  • No clear deadline
  • Inadequate resources available (time, money, information, etc.)
  • Don’t know where to begin
  • Task feels overwhelming
  • No passion for doing the work
  • Fear of failure or success

Taking Time Back from Handheld Devices

Disruptions are the biggest obstacle towards being more productive. We have already talked about handling e-mail and unannounced visitors. Another major source of disruptions, ironically, can come from handheld devices, cell phones, smart phones, and BlackBerries. Now you can be interrupted anywhere, anytime!

To ensure that your handheld device increases (rather than decreases) your productivity, try these tips.

  • Turn off as many notifications as possible.
  • Use your device for work or home – not both.
  • Give your number to essential people only.
  • If you’re at your desk, set the device aside.
  • Use voice mail and automatic reply to let people know when you’ll be away from your desk.
  • Set your device to vibrate in meetings, or turn it off if possible.

Why do you procrastinate? Understanding your personal reasons will help you create a solution that will work for you. Your ability to select your most important task at any given moment, and then to start on that task and get it done both quickly and well, will probably have greatest impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop! If you nurture the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks quickly finished, the majority of your time management issues will simply fade away.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

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