A reader writes:

Recently, my boss started attending personal therapy (she shared this information with me unprovoked) and shortly after starting her sessions she discovered Brene Brown. Her interest in Brene has moved from simply showing a video during a group meeting to having us all read through one of her books.

My concern comes from the fact that in addition to reading the book as a team, we now have a weird “group therapy” sort of session weekly where we’re expected to have done some homework (reading and completion of “exercises” in the workbook).

In addition to these meetings, every day each team member fills out and completes this short survey:
-Name
-Feeling
-Intensity of feeling
-High point
-Low point
-Daily goal

It ends up looking something like this (names changed, as it’s one of my coworker’s recent posts):

JANE DOE
Feeling: Exhausted
Intensity of feeling: 10
Low point: INFANT’S NAME is crying at the bottom of the stairs while I’m in the office. He barely slept last night, his croup is awful and I feel like a crap mom.
High point: Meh
Goal: Make a dent in the Brene Brown book. I did make my Square Squad!

In addition to just feeling like this is generally weird, I have a personal problem with this as someone who has a mental health disorder. Reading this book has triggered sessions of me profusely crying out of nowhere, and having flashbacks of abuse. (I have a C-PTSD diagnosis due to an abuse history.) There is not a single person on our team who has any sort of psychology/social work type of degree either.

Am I being weird about this just because of my own personal experiences? Or is this type of task expectation at work normal, accepted, okay?

No, this is not normal! It’s not okay either.

That said, in the past two years I’ve received a small handful of letters about offices doing things like this (to the point that I wrote a Slate column about them at one point), so something is going on in our culture that’s making some managers think this is okay. But I want to be clear that just because your office isn’t absolutely alone in doing this, it’s still not common, normal, or acceptable, and most people would object to it.

This type of thing is clearly intended to be supportive in some way — “we care about you as a whole person, not just as a worker!” — but in reality it’s horribly boundary-violating. Lots of people don’t want to share their personal emotions in a workplace setting.  Sometimes that’s because what’s going on with them emotionally is way too big or serious to bring into their office.  Sometimes it’s because sharing in the way requested could open them up to discrimination (particularly when they have a non-mainstream identity). Sometimes it’s because it’s actively bad for their mental health (like your PTSD). And sometimes — much of the time — it’s just because they rightly feel it’s no one’s business.

And this just isn’t what most of us are at work for. Most of us want to do our jobs, get results toward our goals, have some pleasant interactions with our colleagues as we do that, and then go home. Lots of us want to save deep personal introspection for friends, partners, or therapists (if we want to do it all, which we might not and that’s okay too).

You noted that no one on your team has any kind of training in psychology. Even if they did, this still wouldn’t be okay because of all the reasons above. But certainly that makes it even more egregious. Your manager is mucking around in an area that can be big and serious and consequential, without any qualifications for doing it. (But again, even with loads of credentials, it would still be inappropriate to do at work, particularly as a non-optional group activity.)

If you want to push back against it, I’d tell your boss you’re finding these activities harmful to your mental health rather than helpful. If you’re comfortable sharing this, you could say it’s at odds with mental health work that you’re doing on your own/with a therapist. (If she pushes you about why, you can say, “That’s more personal than I’m comfortable going into at work.”) Ask that the meetings be made optional, and that people be able to opt out without any kind of penalty. Even better, if you sense anyone else on your team isn’t fully enthused, talk with them ahead of time and then have this conversation with your boss as a united front.

And managers: You are not a doctor or a therapist or a life coach. You are there to get work done. If you want to support people’s mental health, you can offer excellent health insurance, be flexible with people who need time off for various forms of mental health support (whether it’s therapy or just a day off to avoid burn-out), and be thoughtful about the levels of stress you ask people to take on. That’s it. Leave people’s emotions and personal lives to them to manage.

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my manager makes us do mental-health surveys every day was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Original Source: askamanager.org

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