<2 minute read.
Prior to the Dare to Lead™ certification program that I recently participated in, one of the reservations I had was about shame being present in the workplace. Surely shame does not show up at work; surely no one shames anyone else. And surely, I don’t have shame; I don’t experience shame personally nor professionally.
As Brené started to explain what shame is and what it isn’t, including that we all have it (hmm, I disagree), we’re all afraid to talk about shame (hmm, perhaps), and the less we talk about shame, the more control it has (hmm, makes sense), she explained the shame shields that we might use:
- The moving away shield
- The moving toward shield
- The moving against shield, and I realised that I use the moving away shield a lot. I withdraw and I silence myself. And this is most often in response to how I think I am being perceived by others.
I withdraw and I silence myself.
Just in writing the sentence above, I was tempted to write “I use the moving away shield sometimes/often” rather than “a lot” and then I realised that would be inauthentic and that yes, I am afraid to talk about shame. But, if we can authentically talk about shame, we will manage it, rather than it control us. If we identify what triggers our shame, we can manage these triggers; perhaps we can courageously speak up about these triggers. If we can recognise the physiological response that shame triggers in us, we can manage it. When I feel shame, my gut churns, my throat tightens, and I cry. Oh my goodness, I was about to do it again … that is, soften my language as I felt shame to admit that I cry.
But, if we can authentically talk about shame, we will manage it, rather than it control us.
So what about shame, specifically in the workplace? It can show up in many ways; some of the most common ways are:
- Self-worth tied to productivity
- Power over
What’s your view on shame in the workplace? How does it show up? Might you be experiencing shame? What’s your responsibility in minimising shame triggers for others and in building shame resilience in your workplace?
I am always keen to hear from you. Let’s talk about shame and dampen its impact.