Do personal choices impact professional behaviors? A recent study at the University of Texas at Austin looked at correlates between relationship infidelity and misconduct in the workplace. The researchers concluded that people who cheat on their spouses are significantly more likely to engage in professional misconduct. The study also suggested that a strong correlation exists between people's actions in their personal and professional lives. It would make sense that ethical behavior and moral choices easily cut across work and home environments. We read about people's indiscretions in their personal lives daily which often bleeds into their professional lives. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for people to behave one way at work and completely opposite at home. Which is why professionals who are controlling and aggressive can't easily turn it off at home. This often leads to serious relationship conflicts, maybe even prompting a spouse to exclaim, "I'm not your employee/staff!"
So what causes a person to make poor and destructive choices? Humans are complex individuals and make bad choices for a number of different reasons. Sometimes boredom and the need for thrill and excitement motivates them. Many assume they won't get caught and become very good at lying and manipulating others. Others are seeking an escape from emotional pain and conflict that have never been addressed through disruptive behaviors. Or maybe they are impulsive, risk takers who like the conquest and seek power and control. Insecurities and feelings of inadequacy may motivate others to seek ways to feel worthy and accepted. Unfortunately, it often takes a dramatic event or crisis before they are willing to address or even acknowledge these issues. Most have lived their lives in denial and become incredibly versed in justification and rationalizations. They end up in a dark place and a deep hole that seems impossible to escape.
But there is hope. I'm in the change business so I believe in hope. If a person reaches that point where they want to learn to confront their emotional pain and learn new ways of behaving, relationships can be healed. And in healing personal relationships, the client may also bring a heightened awareness and improvement to behaviors at work as well. The first step in change is acknowledging the magnitude of pain they've caused others as well as themselves. There also needs to be a genuine desire and commitment to modify their thoughts and actions even if the relationship ultimately fails. Unpacking the boxes of conflict and emotional pain is part of the therapy process and requires both transparency and vulnerability. Confronting issues from the past and present that led up to the self-destructive choices requires introspection and reflection that can be facilitated by a therapist. Learning to incorporate healthy and constructive coping strategies to deal with stress and conflict is an important component in the change process. Surrounding yourself with friends who engage in moral and ethical behaviors will help to reinforce the changes. Identify and cultivate a relationship with an accountability person to call you out when you're going sideways. Lastly, leaning into your faith or seeking a faith can enable you to recognize that there is a power greater than yourself. And remember that humility is the antidote to arrogance.