A co-worker who spreads rumors or a boss who is too demanding--you probably have worked with different types of troublesome people, or have taken such a role yourself. If so, Sylvia Lafair’s Don't Bring It to Work will help you change damaging behaviors into positive ones, based on the premise that who you are at home is actually the same personality that is at work. However, the process can be painful, a point that the author clearly makes.
You’ll begin the process by realizing that past family experiences impact who you are today. You’ll pinpoint your specific behaviors from a simplified list of thirteen common patterns, such as “Rebel,” “Victim,” “Pleaser,” and “Drama Queen or King.” Lafair says, “We all have a predilection toward two or three patterns that have become ingrained.” (pg.70) To help you, she has several exercises that force you to choose from various options, each one representing a certain pattern. When you’ve completed the exercises, you’ll notice which patterns reflect your behaviors.
After this step, you will map a family tree, but this one will be a Sankofa map. According to Lafair’s directions, your family tree will include significant events, traditions, and ways of thinking. She encourages readers to ask family members questions to fill in gaps. When the map is complete, you will be able to connect your current behaviors to your family’s past.
Then, you can continue the process by changing your behaviors into their positive versions. For example, the “Rebel” can become a “Community Builder,” and a “Pleaser” can transform into a “Truth Teller.” To make these changes a reality, Lafair suggests creating a six-week action plan with immediate and long-term goals. She admits that, for some people, the process can take much longer.
However, when the process is successful, you will see the positive effects at the workplace. According to Lafair, each person’s patterns interact with others to create an entire system, and by changing your behavior, you can start to change the system. The author admits that “studies simply have not been done” (pg. 46) on the role patterns play in workplace problems. Yet, throughout the book, she cites her own experiences as a therapist and executive coach, which usually have happy endings and always teach useful lessons. In fact, Lafair ends each chapter with “takeaways” that summarize the key points.
You’ll find Lafair’s writing style to be stirring and fresh. For example, she says, “Residing on the edges of our consciousness, invisible roles torture us, like an annoying itch we can’t scratch.” (pg. 27) To find out more about these “invisible roles” and their relationship to patterns, you’ll have to read her book. Lafair mentions human resource departments as her target audience, but just about any employee will find that her book is an excellent tool in preventing workplace crisis.