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COMMENT PIECE/FEATURE IDEA - interviews available with career coach Beth Garbett.

Looking for a new job? Might be time for a new approach to get what you want!

14th July 2009 Jobs are scarce right now and the headlines in the press do nothing to allay our fears that finding a new one might not be the right thing to do at the moment.

“Around 1,500 people applied for just 192 jobs at the new John Lewis food hall in Bluewater.”

“The BCC predicts that unemployment will reach 3.2m by the middle of 2010 and that any recovery could still falter if care is not taken.”

“Ireland's unemployment rate surged to 11.9 percent of the work force in June, the highest level since April 1996, as the eurozone nation was hammered by recession, official data showed Wednesday.”

However, it’s more than just the statistics that mean people might be better off sticking where they are, and business and life coach Beth Garbett has come up with a novel way of assessing your current situation. From the psychological way that your boss looks at your position, to the way that you handle the extra demands on your time, Beth’s analysis certainly gives food for thought.

Beth Garbett, writing on her blog (toughlove4toughsituations.blogspot.com) has pinpointed exactly why and how employers can manipulate their ‘power’ over employees for their own gains:

“A lot of people right now are angry because they committed so much time, energy and loyalty to their employers, only to find out now that they were being misled by very clever corporate psychology. Have you ever been in a situation where your bosses have heaped you with praise only to lay you off without a word as soon as you’d served your purpose? Or the boss with an unhealthy obsession about team-building and fitting in? Or have you ever been on the receiving end of repeated comments about your breasts / legs / torso / backside (delete as appropriate) and been told by your manager that you were imagining it all? Most deviant of all, has your boss ever appeared to be concerned and caring, and told you he’s “worried about you”?

Do Employers Brainwash Us?

Even at the height of the economic boom in 2006, I had a boss who tried to brainwash us into believing we were lucky to have a job and that working for any competitor who approached us was bound to be the equivalent of cleaning the lavatories in the abattoirs. I don’t know whether he inspired David Brent or whether David Brent inspired him, but he was fond of telling everyone except his favourites that we were going to be fired and when I was in the top ten performers in the company, he stated in front of the entire open-plan office that the results must be wrong (they weren’t).

Behaviour like this is so commonplace among Britain’s managers that it can arguably be considered normal. And, having worked for various different nationalities, I believe this trait to be far more prevalent in Britain than in other European Countries. This gives rise to the question, why do bosses think it’s desirable to behave like this and why do we, their staff, put up with it?

Hard Work, What Reward?

If, like very many of us, you’re wondering what happened to all the hard work, late nights, early morning, weekend work and family arguments you invested, I think it’s important to understand what your boss’ real motivations were and what they’re likely to be if you decide to re-enter the corporate jungle when the economic upturn happens.

You see, the bottom line for your boss is money – his money and not yours. And the less you have the more he has. You see, he wants you to save him time and to make him money, all the while being so meek and mild that hopefully he won’t even notice you’re there. Nothing you say, do or want is going to get in the way of that. The indoctrination techniques used by employers (for that is what they are) are essentially no different from those of a cult.

Have you ever wondered why, whenever it’s your birthday or you have plans for the evening or weekend, something urgent always crops up that needs your immediate attention? Well on one level it’s because being the boss (or “Team Leader” as they like to be called) brings out the PE Teacher in otherwise normal people, and they like to make you stay behind because they can. On another level, your manager may use it as a psychological tool akin to the isolation method in cult indoctrination. Examples of this include meetings held at times you normally spend with friends and family, weekend team building sessions or “retreats” immersing you in the corporate culture for days at a time. Even something seemingly normal like being asked not to discuss your work with people outside the company will reduce your feedback so that for a while, you’re only fully communicating with your colleagues, you’re only really confiding in and being open with are your colleagues, which in turn means that you feel closer to them emotionally than you otherwise would.

NLP (or how bosses get us to do what they want)

But not all bosses use cult indoctrination techniques. A lot use Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP, popularised by so many TV hypnotists. In fact some corporations, Axa Insurance of Australia for one, actually train their managers as NLP practitioners and have their own special brand of Axa NLP. You might already know about NLP, in which case you’re more likely to recognise when your boss is trying out its techniques on you. If you don’t, it’s a largely outmoded and discredited form of therapy which pre-supposes a connection between neurological processes, language and behavioural processes. What began life as a well-meaning form of therapy has been debased over the years by unscrupulous salesmen, estate agents, lawyers and advertising executives to create an artificial rapport with you, to undermine your defences and to manipulate you into agreeing with something against your interests. Have you ever bought something you didn’t really need and couldn’t really afford, because you felt like the salesperson was your best friend? Well, the salesperson knew what he or she was doing to make you feel that way, and so does your boss when you realised that you’ve been subliminally strong-armed into something slightly less pleasurable than a 28-day prison sentence.

Admittedly, your boss might eschew a technique as old-hat as NLP in favour of practices common in basic hypnosis. When you’ve disagreed with your boss, has he tried to corner you into conceding defeat by prefixing a statement of his position or intent with “You know that” all the while using his most reassuring and conciliatory tone of voice? Well, this is very similar to what hypnotists call an “embedded command”, a psychological tool which plants a command in your subconscious mind. It’s rendered even more deadly if he rounds the statement of with “Don’t you agree?” This suffix catches your subconscious mind off guard so you’ll almost certainly concur. As you walk away from the meeting, you’ll be scratching your head thinking “How the hell did I just agree to that?” but it’ll be too late because there’ll be official minutes of the meeting confirming that you agreed with everything your boss said!

Having read this, you’re probably thinking “Yes, but jobs are scarce at the moment, I’ll have to take whatever I can find”. But even if you’re facing financial difficulty, I urge you not to communicate any of your worry to your potential new boss. If he’s the sort we’ve just been discussing and he notices this about you, he’ll be licking his lips and cracking his knuckles as soon as you walk out of the boardroom, all the while marching up and down the neutral beige carpet, fondly imagining how he would look in a Waffen SS uniform. The point is, he’ll believe he can treat you like this because you need the job so much. And in 6 months’ time you’ll be out of work again, having resigned due to stress-related sickness.

What can be done in the current economic situation?

Adopt an “economic boom” mindset before you go into the interview – even if you have to let it all go as soon as you get back out onto the pavement. Cult leaders look for non-verbal indicators of vulnerability when deciding whom to target and so do megalomaniac managers. If you present as someone strong and secure, it might take you longer to find a job, yes. But it’ll be a job you’ll stay in for a lot longer at much greater benefit to your health and happiness.”

-ENDS-

For further press information, for interviews or for comment please contact Sarah Wolf at diabloPR
sarah@diablopr.co.uk
01373 471849 or 07812 099243

About Beth Garbett

Beth was born into quite a good socio-economic background but her challenges began at birth – she was born with First Arch Syndrome which in practical terms means that her left ear is missing, and she has had several major operations to correct a facial malformation for which she has continuous treatment including daily physio. She went through a mainstream school, though a selective one – Sheffield High School for Girls. Their and her parents’ obsession with academic excellence seems to have scarred her for life because she has an identical nightmare about being forced to do A levels and go to university 3 or 4 times per week! The main downside in life-skills terms was that she and many others, grew up in a very feminist environment without men, and with completely unrealistic expectations of the real world – so she and her friends took a long time to adjust to reality!

Beth and her contemporaries had very high expectations of the world of work and unrealistic expectations of what qualifications, competence, ambition and a work ethic can achieve. That, combined with her butterfly-like personality meant that she had the usual bad experiences of the workplace some of which were her responsibility (getting fired from a law firm because of her sense of humour) and some of which weren’t (being offered a salary at half the going rate because the boss said her face would frighten clients and he sneakily knew she wouldn’t be able to accept the salary).

But after trying all her dream jobs and realising they weren’t all that, she decided to try a new career as a recruitment consultant which led her to working in the City. After a couple of years in this career, a casual conversation with a colleague gave her the idea to move to Geneva / France. That job didn’t work out in the long run, but before the credit crunch it was easy to get a job in Geneva. She has recently worked as a strategic HR manager, advising on internal transfers, recruitment, salary, conditions etc, for Satyam – or “The Indian Enron”! Of course she's now up a creek without a paddle since the company imploded in the New Year!

Interestingly for Beth, the credit crunch happened shortly after another life-changing event for her – finding out that her eggs are knackered so if she was ever going to have her own kids she should have done it in her early 20s! She's now an accredited coach writer and recession busting social entrepreneur, setting up business projects in the UK and Switzerland.

Beth Garbett’s coaching website www.toughlove4toughsituations.com

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