By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published February 2020
As humans we share many common physical characteristics; anatomy that differs from four-legged animals, reptiles, fish, and fowl. But as people, we are beyond different in most aspects: nationality, race, gender, hair/skin/eye color, language, preferences, income, skills and aptitudes, reading and eating interests, work ethic, recreational choices, emotional balance, socialization abilities, and brain dominance and decision making. It takes patience to figure it all out!
While there are endless ways to categorize people, let’s first identify the three different levels of emotional development. They are Dependent, Independent, and Interdependent. It is possible to be 60 years old chronologically but only 18 months emotionally. Those stages could be identified as follows.
In the Dependent stage, an individual is focused on “me.” “Feed me, clothe me, make me comfortable, make me happy”; me, me, me. This emotional stage is appropriate for newborns through childhood and early adolescence. Babies cannot do anything for themselves, and adults should provide all their needs.
However, it is not appropriate for an adult to be focused on “me.” Yet, it is easy to observe those who complain, “They won’t bend the rules for me,” “No one invited me to eat with them,” “I don’t like where my assigned parking space is,” “People aren’t nice to me,” etc. This person is not a team player and will likely not become a productive member of society. This type of person is so self-absorbed that contributing time to a cause like working or volunteering is foreign to him or her. If he hasn’t “grown up” emotionally by the time he is 60 years old, he probably never will. He is, and will most likely remain, a very draining person (VDP).
We start moving into the Independent stage at about two years old when we learn the word “no.” This stage is characterized by “I” and is with us through the teen years. “I can do it (get dressed, tie my shoes, cross the street) myself,” “I can choose my own friends,” “I don’t like being told what to do,” “I know it all,” etc. The focus is on his strengths, which he brags about to everyone. Because this stage is basically insecure, he is unable to admit any weakness or lack of knowledge. However, he will gladly focus on your weaknesses. If you don’t know what that means, just observe your children or grandchildren in middle school. They are awful to each other.
As an adult, a person in this stage will be able to see what is wrong with everyone else but not himself. He would prefer to straighten out those around him rather than take responsibility for his own actions and emotions. There is a “me versus them” attitude; this person is not a team player. The reasons for leaving his last job or resigning from his last volunteer position will sound like this: “I told them what to do and how to run the place, but they would not listen to me.”
Unfortunately, this category has more people in it than either of the other two. More than likely, your office or board will have several members who have the “me versus them” attitude, who think they know it all. They are often productive members of society but don’t play well in the “sandbox.”
In our mid-20s, we are supposed to move into the interdependent stage. That stage is characterized by a “we” attitude. In this stage, we are more objective about assessing our strengths and weaknesses, and we are not afraid to acknowledge the strengths of others.
An interdependent employee or director will say, “You have strengths in areas I don’t, and I have strengths in areas you don’t. Why can’t we put our strengths together and make a stronger whole?” The interdependent team member understands we are all individuals with specific abilities. The person in this stage has learned that no one can know or do everything, but everyone can do something. By working synergistically as a team, everyone wins. A great team member is emotionally mature and interdependent.
Then, there are those with uncomfortable behaviors that CAMs, administrators, peers, friends, and family members face.
Low self-esteem usually starts in childhood where the adults in the child’s life focused on the child’s failures rather than his or her successes. Those children are now adults. An adult with low self-esteem can change, but it requires a commitment to change, which means the adult must admit to the problem. As an adult, being “shy” is not a positive characteristic; it is for children. Those who want to improve their esteem can do so by learning to control their self-talk and turn it from negative to positive. As human beings, we do have the ability to control our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, and emotions. To get positive reinforcement, consider joining Toastmasters or take a Dale Carnegie Course.
Sensitive Sam, Tempera-mental Terri, Negative Nellie, and Domineering Don could be that way because they are afraid, even though they may not actually know they are afraid or verbalize it.
A short list of fears could be some of the following:
These fears may be recognized by others and could be countered by one of these working environments:
A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser.
According to the Department of Labor, workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.
Bullies can create a hostile work environment not only at work but in our community associations. Residents need to be warned against this type of behavior, and boards should take immediate action to stop it. Remember, while this may be where you live, it is a workplace—our workplace! But most residents or board members don’t connect these issues to their community associations. They don’t realize all this may be happening right where they live. What’s worse is a few residents don’t realize they are the culprits.
The general public is probably familiar with prohibitions against supervisor to employee or employee to employee harassment. But how many are aware of something called “third-party” harassment? A third-party harasser could be an “outsider.”
While many associations may only have one or two employees, they have dozens and hundreds of residents, a few of whom could become the “third party.” Visualize an angry resident charging into the association office (more than once), yelling at the manager, threatening bodily harm, and calling her names with so much venom that the veins in his neck pop out. This angry resident might be considered a “third-party” harasser. The association could face some risk here, and the board needs to act immediately. If your association has employees, be sure to check your Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy for requirements regarding harassment policies.
Living and working with us human beings is a challenge! It takes strategic patience.
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.