The holidays are supposed to be a wonderful time of gathering with loved ones. Unfortunately, they also glaringly highlight all the lovely family dynamics you try to ignore. I recently had a family experience I didn’t handle well. As several of us were sitting in my living room talking, one of my male relatives shared an extremely misogynistic video with another male relative. The volume on his phone was loud enough for the entire room to hear. My young adult daughter and my 17-year-old son were present as well. I “kindly” asked through gritted teeth that the video be turned off. This relative said, “What? I thought it was funny.” At that point, I snapped out “Turn it off now!” About an hour after he left, I started raging about how disrespectful he was. I was in full judgment mode.
I’m in the middle of an unresolved relational conflict, and it has consumed a lot of my thoughts of late. Last Thursday and Friday I discussed this relationship in four different conversations, seeking advice.
Or maybe I was really seeking validation for my point of view.
America, I have deep compassion for your pain, and I simultaneously need to tell you, for your own good, at some point you need move through your grief and get back to work.
My wife is a biochemist by training, and she was the one who came up with the name “Catalyst” for my fledgling consulting practice in 2006. A catalyst is a substance that accelerates a reaction without itself being changed by the reaction. I thought that was a perfect metaphor for the work we do– encouraging change in others. As we end 2012, I’m realizing that the metaphor is incomplete.
For the past four years, helping teams build high-trust relationships has been a significant portion of my consulting practice. My clients and I achieved some decent results together, but something was missing from my approach. Up until 2010, I had assumed that 2 people who have a damaged-trust relationship can shake hands, agree to work together, “let bygones be bygones,” and move forward in a trusting way.
I was wrong.