We usually think of our family life to be completely separate to that of our lives at work. While this is true to some extent, most of us aren’t aware of just how much our early relationships with family members influence how we behave and the relationships that we form in the workplace in later life. After all, it is in these early experiences of family life that we learn how to make connections, resolve conflict and conduct ourselves in social situations, which are all essential skills that every manager needs to possess in order to be successful in their chosen profession.
As this article ‘Why we see bosses as parents’ explains so well, as we age, we become more like our parents, and often, we find ourselves encountering the same situations at work as we used to when we were children. Usually, we’re not even aware that we may be reacting to a colleague or manager as we did during our formative years at home – it happens because we are unconsciously recreating our early experiences of family life, whether those experiences happened to be positive or negative.
For example, we may look to our boss as a father figure without even being aware that we are doing so. This can be a positive thing if our relationship with our father was healthy and constructive, but conversely if the relationship happened to be dysfunctional we may find that we are constantly seeking our boss’s validation and approval as we used to seek our father’s approval when we were children. As a result, we may find ourselves becoming overwhelmed by emotions that don’t really belong in the workplace.
So, when we experience conflict or difficulties in the workplace, it is always useful to look back to our own childhoods to see whether our past experiences are having a negative impact upon our present behaviour. And when we begin to understand just how much our childhood experiences affect us in the workplace in the present day, we can also begin to understand what effect our current approach to parenting may have on our own children in the long-term.
We explore this very subject in our upcoming book The Working Parents’ Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Children Who Thrive, which will give parents a host of tools that you can apply successfully at home and at work. These will hopefully prepare your children to be better leaders and have a positive impact on your life as a whole. If you’re interested in getting a copy of this book at a discounted pre-publication price, please register your interest here.