I love to read. This habit has helped me gain tons of knowledge on how to hone my situational awareness skills. One thing I realized, are the skills that help keep me safe, are the same skills I use in business.
How are they the same? Consider these specific skills for a moment. In business, being able to communicate my thoughts effectively, read body language to understand non-verbals, and being able to adapt and respond to changing dynamics of a situation, are the keys to success.
If I can show you how to use skills you already have, in a way that improves your personal safety, it greatly shortens your learning curve. You can make small changes in your daily habits that will have great impact immediately. I want to help you see these skills from a different perspective, so you have the confidence to live life on your terms.
Not only are the skills universal, the warning behaviors that signal something is wrong, are universal in personal and professional relationships.
Consider this sequence of events:
- Evaluating you as their target
- Testing your boundaries
- Learning your vulnerabilities
- Gaining your trust
- Slowing manipulating the relationship to gain control
- Gaslighting your concerns to disguise their intent
- Denying your evidence of wrongdoing to avoid personal responsibility
Which leaves the following options:
- They end the relationship suddenly to avoid persecution
- You are forced to walk away with nothing to escape the toxic relationship
From your perspective, what am I describing?
- An intimate personal relationship?
- A friendship?
- A business partnership?
- A co-worker relationship?
The reality is, I could be describing the patterns of toxic behaviors in any of those relationships.
Society is set up to recognize abuse in silos. Being abused greatly impacts our mental and physical health, and healing can take months, even years. Depending on the relationship of the people involved, the warning signs they are taught to look for come from that silo’s tunnel vision. In my opinion, advocates get so specialized in their silo, they can’t help survivors learn to recognize similar behavior patterns in other areas of their life.
When someone is a survivor of domestic abuse, in hindsight, they may see the early behavior warning signs from that relationship. Advocates and therapists will help them do the work to make sure they don’t find themselves in another abusive relationship. But if they are only looking through the lens of an intimate relationship, they may not recognize abusive behaviors in a professional work environment.
Who will teach them to recognize early signs of dominant behavior in the workplace? If their knowledge of warning signs only pertains to intimate partners, they may miss the warning signs of dominant behavior in a new boss. The submissive responses they created as a coping mechanism to survive, may start happening subconsciously with how they respond to the boss.
What do I mean?
One aspect of the Violence Dynamics training that had a great impact on me is the focus on building principal-based, physical self-defense skills. The instructors preach that if you focus solely on learning technical skills, when you are facing a real and potentially violent threat, technical skills may go out the window and do you no good.
Real predators, intent on causing you harm, are not reading from a Hollywood script.
(Predator is found lurking in the dark shadows of the alley, waiting for the victim to appear, while ominous music plays)
Predator: Hey Victim, I’m going to throw a right hook, followed by a shoulder grab, pulling your chest to my upward thrusting knee. Got it?
Victim: Okay. I’m going to dodge your right hook by leaning back slightly and to the left, which also puts my shoulders out of your reach, while I send a left jab to your kidney.
Real violence is scrappy. There are no rules and predators fight dirty. If you think having perfect technical skills are the end all, be all to your self-defense training, I recommend reading “Facing Violence” by Rory Miller.
What does my segue story have to do with how patterns of toxic behavior are siloed? If society is only teaching the technical skills of recognizing toxic behavior through a silo’d lens, based on the relationship between the individuals involved, we are failing. Dominating behavior is dominating behavior. Gaslighting is the same coming from a partner or a boss.
There needs to be a change on how we educate society on recognizing warning behaviors in other human beings. We need to stop creating silos of knowledge based on the relationship label we attach to the individuals involved.
It’s much easier to dismiss what your intuition is telling you because the person exhibiting the warning signs and toxic behaviors is your co-worker, not your friend/partner. Just because it’s your boss that demeans you and constantly says your work is shit, doesn’t mean it’s not abusive behaviors.
Whether your intuition alarm bells go off from your significant other, your new business partner, or that creepy co-worker, focus on their behaviors, not who that person is to you.
“I can’t control your behaviors; nor do I want that burden…but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.