Posted by: waikatogifted | June 9, 2011

When Opposites Attract

Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour icon.

Part two of a five part series on workaholics and perfectionists, by guest blogger, Dr Lynley McMillan.

So you are a workaholic and your Partner (boss/parent/friend/flatmate) is not? Oh boy, time to think fast and sharpen your communication skills – here goes…

  1. Ditch the bias

Firstly, being a workaholic is neither good nor bad, it just is. A bit like having brown hair, or black. It just is. No point panicking and no point pathologising – it’s just the way we are. What really matters is that we understand other people’s experience of workaholism (psychologists call this empathy, or theory of mind – it’s written about a lot in the literature on Aspergers and Social Skills).

  1. See it from their viewpoint

If your partner is not workaholic, they can probably stop at 5pm, mid-task, without worrying about the unfinished part (while you would stay at work until it is done). They probably go home and are psychologically present with the people and routines in the home (whereas you might still be working in your head, thinking about work, sending emails from your i-phone, or talking on the phone). In the weekends, they probably don’t give work much thought (whereas you may be planning what to do Monday, or percolating on your latest great idea). In short – they are where their hands are. Fully present. Engaged. And as a result, they are likely to see you as ‘distracted,’ ‘always working,’ and not paying the family as much attention as you should. Sound familiar?

  1. Put the cart before the horse

The remedy is rather simple – talk about your workflow, and let them know when work is lumpy/demanding – so they have fair expectations of what you can do, And plan things to do together when the workflow settles down. Ask them how they feel about it. TALK! (Oh yes, and listen more than you talk – that usually helps big time!)

  1. Get funky, get creative

Success does not lie in a pill or a magic solution – don’t believe what the pop psych books tell you. Be gutsy and creative and design your own system to live successfully with workaholism. Some of my clients’ partners like them home at 6 pm and don’t mind if that means they need to work later in the evening to make up for it. Others would rather all the work is done before you get home so that once you arrive, you really are there. And finally, some get up at 5am to work, while everyone else is asleep – so the family don’t feel ‘robbed’ by their body being present but their mind at work.
So let’s not point the finger at workaholism, or the people who have it – let’s learn to live successfully with it. (Tomorrow’s blog – can animals be workaholic?)

A sunrise reflected in the water, with a bare tree in silhouette.

Rising before the sun may allow you to combine extra work time with domestic tranquillity.

This photo, by Flickr member James Marvin Phelps, has attribution and non-commercial licenses.

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