About two weeks ago I deployed to Afghanistan.  The train up to this long road ahead in a tumultuous war torn country has been less than exciting.  Our Battalion has trained hard to prepare for the rough road ahead at a large cost…morale.

Prior to leaving the United States our Battalion’s morale was at an all time low, it was hard to find a single person could use our motto “Trojan Horse” and say they meant to say it with pride rather than sarcasm.  Sometimes service members don’t understand the meaning behind the importance behind all the painstaking hours, but either way this optempo has bred a morale that is so low it has started to breed dissension and bad talk.

What do I mean by dissension and bad talk?  When the going gets tough, there is always someone to pass the buck to.  I wish this wasn’t the case, but it seems like there is never a time when this theory fails to prove truth.  Low morale in an organization breeds a culture where leaders find it acceptable to bad mouth or talk down to their subordinates and peers about other leaders in their organization to seemingly prove that they are not the reason for all the hurt and pain the organization has suffered and rather their counterpart is at fault.  Now, I am not at liberty to use specific examples but this exact behavior has permeated the community that I work in…and is a dangerous tool to burn bridges and break bonds.

Instead of giving you all the examples of how bad mouthing coworkers can be detrimental to an organization, I’d rather spend time discussing a resolution.  Self awareness is the key to almost all workplace flubbers.  The self aware leader is conscious of what comes out of their mouth and who they are sharing information with.  Developing self awareness in community discussion around work will help every leader become more selective with their words and in turn more selective about the topic of their conversation.  This in turn will affect the organization as more of us would be working together rather than spending more time chatting about who’s fault it is that the current work day sucks.

Practicing self awareness is the hardest part.  I always tell my subordinates to think before they talk (though most of the time I have to remind myself of this as well).  Sometimes, this sounds demeaning but it is honestly effective.  Most people don’t understand that what they are saying effects not only the person they are talking about but everyone else who is around to hear the conversation.  If every person in your organization took the time to slow down and think through their off hand discussions to become more self aware, the organizational morale would increase as most conversations would prove to increase morale in the long run.  It seems so simple yet self awareness is way more complex than we want to think.  Take some time to watch the video below on self awareness and knowing yourself…it is eye opening.

Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself