Retail Observer

November 2017

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2017 44 Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain profit cultures. RO I have a confession to make. I'm currently almost devoid of mainstream media, and some days, I'm totally media-free. On some level, I realize this is controversial at a minimum and radical at best. Make no mistake, I'm not living in a wilderness cave or hiding out in my home avoiding phone calls. What began as an experiment earlier this year has turned into a tentative but fairly consistent practice: I am very selective about what sorts of information with which I spend my time. Truth be told, I've been a little like this for a while—years ago, before such widespread access to the Internet, I had a seven- year stretch where I didn't own a television at all. I missed an entire era of the popular U.S. series Seinfeld and Friends. Now, though I own a television (and enjoy watching movies), I record things I might be interested in and decide later if I actually am. I'm not a puritan about this: I enjoyed Downton Abbey and confess to Game of Thrones for sheer entertainment. But news media? Debate shows or live pundits? Incessant scrolling through polemic arguments on Facebook and Twitter? No way. At least not right now. There's a little guilt with this about being an 'informed citizen,' a person with a platform (I write, speak, publish, influence) but part of what it means to be living in this time, in my community, means I get to choose how I spend my time and where I spend my money. And I also get to pay attention for signals of compassion fatigue. It's a real thing. Especially for those who work in industries devoted to care-giving, or people whose personal lives include caring for others, especially those at the end of life or with particular disabilities. But, right now, at work and at home, in our communities and in our world, many are suffering from feeling the weight of loss, grief, sadness, and sometimes the companion feelings of hurt, anger, and even rage in the midst of great change and catastrophic events. Do these show up at work? You betcha. Since we are spending 90,000 hours at work (see my book, What Will You Do with Your 90,000 Hours?), the people with whom you share meetings and an occasional lunch are often under the influence of the daily, depressing barrage of the news. By the time this article goes to press . . . we may witness another natural disaster (hurricane or earthquake) or horribly, a mass shooting. How are we supposed to work on something that might feel like a small transaction in your store or business in the face of much bigger things? It's a distraction, to say the least, and who's to say we aren't supposed to stop what we are doing and talk about what's going on? For me, it's about measuring and carefully choosing my activities and my media (and social media, in particular), but it's also about radical self-care and recognizing when I could be experiencing compassion fatigue. Here are a few symptoms to recognize: suffering from vicarious trauma; constant exhaustion; physical tension in your body or trouble sleeping. It's different from ordinary burnout because compassion fatigue is a level of physical and emotional exhaustion that creates a profound decrease in your ability to empathize or show compassion towards another. Caring often feels too costly. What can you do? A few ideas here: get educated about compassion fatigue; set some emotional boundaries; cultivate healthy friendships; keep a journal; boost your resiliency; seek therapeutic help; go outside. I made my slow way back to some forms of media after my four- month break, and I'm super picky. I also recognize in my working relationships when I get a sense I'm not quite present for a courageous conversation or to demonstrate understanding with another. Then I know I must take care of myself in order to fully show up for whatever's next. COMPASSION FATIGUE : WHAT IF SIMPLY CARING FEELS IMPOSSIBLE?

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