Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I sometimes find it quite interesting how stuff happens. Sometimes there are topics, circumstances or what appear to be coincidences that happen that just make me wonder about the cosmic design.

First, I frequently share with couples who are seeking my help in counseling that I prefer to have us all start on the same page by using the following definition of 'love' : Love is ... valuing the other person AND refusing to devalue the other person. (as espoused by Everett Worthington in his book, "Hope-focused Marriage Counseling") I have found that due to varied family of origin issues, past relationships, trauma, and assorted reasons, people come to my office with widely differing ideas about what love is. I, too, have my own issues, past relationships and traumas that inform my definition of what love is, so this helps everyone be able to have a common reference point for whether certain behaviors, attitudes and values are 'loving'.

I had just such an occasion recently to help a husband evaluate his own behaviors and attitudes toward his wife by sharing this definition for his consideration. So, here we are, using words like evaluate and value and it makes me curious about how value is created. Value is a quality that is assigned to a person or a thing or a concept based on a personal or societal standard, or more often, by personal reasons. In my experience working with couples and families, there seems to be a trend to give lip service to how much we value the other person, but to behave in such a way that we communicate to the other that they are not valued. So, I find this definition of 'love' to be useful in helping couples evaluate (determine the worth) of their attitudes and behaviors.

Okay, so, let's transition to the next thing that happened to catch my attention: I received my annual performance evaluation at work today. That is right, a time honored tradition from corporate America designed to measure productivity and determine all sorts of Human Resource data. However, I have found that it is often difficult to separate the person from the performance and to actually walk away from a 'performance' evaluation without feeling like it was a 'person' evaluation. This time, for me, it was actually pretty decent. Here are some good excerpts:
*satisfactory job knowledge, understands and performs most phases of job well, occasionally requires assistance or instruction.
Okay, so far so good...
*Room for improvement, frequent errors, work requires checking & re-doing.
Wait, what? It just said that I only *occasionally* required assistance or instruction...
*Usually gets the job done on time, works well under pressure, follows up in a timely manner.
That's a little better, but c'mon... *usually* ? Who wrote this evaluation form anyhow?
*Proceeds on own with little or no direction, progressive, makes some suggestions for improvement. (in relation to Initiative and Creativity)
That sounded more promising, but this is beginning to feel like a validation roller coaster...
*Inconsistently accomplishes normal requirements of job.
Now I'm totally bumfuzzled! Is this good or bad? It seems to indicate that someone thinks that I'm doing a normal job of things, albeit inconsistently.

Actually, taken out of context, the above statements could be applied in any way I chose (as I illustrated with my comments after each). The gist of the performance review indicated that overall, I get the job done and do it well. The only real issues were some prodding to improve my paperwork and organizing my schedule more efficiently, both of which are valid points.

The one part of the evaluation that really got to me was: *Generally does not communicate well with clients, staff, and others. Paperwork is unclear and untimely. (Written and Oral Communication category)
Okay, okay, I get the paperwork thing already. I admit I need to tighten up in that area. But seriously, I'm not an effective communicator? This really attacked my sense of self. If anything, I consider myself to be an above average communicator. I'm not just referring to my speaking ability, but I also consider myself to be a great listener. In fact, those are two really important factors in my profession.

So, although I thought that the performance evaluation went well overall, part of me walked away with a sense of self-doubt about my value to my workplace and to my clients. I had to ask myself if the quality of my work and efforts were of value. (don't read too much into this, my self-doubt didn't last long. I'm still the same slightly arrogant, confident person I was before my evaluation.)

Okay, so... again... one more thing about the how we value each other, a friend brought the following article to my attention: (CAUTION: By clicking on the following, you are leaving this blog and will be presented an article about marriage, libido and sex drive. It may not be appropriate for all readers) A Letter from a Sex-Starved Husband. I found it to be an interesting read and it brought to my mind the comparison of a 'performance evaluation' and how men in general, determine whether they feel 'loved' (or 'valued', remember the definition from earlier?)

I was curious whether this man felt frustrated that his 'job' in his relationship was being valued by being compensated in a way that made him feel loved. It seemed to me, that in many categories in his relationship, he seems to meet the standard of being a good husband, a loving, caring compassionate husband. But there is this one area that bothers him. It doesn't change how he values his wife (does it?). He claims to love her enough to be able to fill volumes about how wonderful she is... but the long term effect of feeling devalued in this one area has created self-doubt in whether he is truly valued in the relationship. His closing paragraphs sound eerily similar to disgruntled employees who are looking for another job.

It makes me wonder how similar things would be if someone were to compare job turnover to divorce rates.

1 comment:

DaveE said...

I read your post and the long letter you linked to from the man who wasn't getting sexual fulfillment in his marriage. I think I understand what you're trying to get across. I think I see the connection you're making between job satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in a marriage. When you throw your whole being into a marriage or your work and you get little internal satisfaction from the object of your devotion (job/wife) it makes you wonder what it's all worth.
I have one question--and you can take it as rhetorical if you like--who is the intended audience for this post?
I love you with all my heart and being,