MVP Seminars Blogs

Sexual harassment permeates our culture.  Even the Centers For Disease Control has conducted extensive studies on the topic because it is pandemic, and does not seem to show any signs of slacking off. On the contrary, we are witnessing the meltdown of an ethos that has guided the American governmental, and business enterprises for generations.  Not that scandal of a sexual nature was not present in the business world, it was however, carefully hidden from public view.  The old system of hiding sexual harassment from the public has vanished.

The revelations of public and religious figures who have trampled upon the trust and integrity vouchsafed to them by the people through  irresponsible sexual behavior are almost daily events.  No one knows just how deep or far-reaching these sinister breaches of social mores may go. What is evident, however, is the fact that these events are reshaping the business landscape of the country.  It seems that the business community may require not only training in sexual harassment, but training in how to recognize the personality types that create the havoc of sexual harassment within a business community.

While there may not be a psychological milieu that can identify potential perpetrators of sexual harassment there are principles available to help recognize the "Tactics of Manipulation and Control" that create the environment of sexual harassment.  This information is also  for the timid or self-effacing types who submit to the tactic of the manipulator out of fear or intimidation.  (We also recognize that there are companies that pay victims of sexual harassment to keep quiet and not reveal the callow invasion of their persons by abusers). 

In a marvelous book entitled "In Sheep's Clothing:  Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People" George K.Simon, Jr., Ph. D. offers very practical and sobering insight into the world of manipulators.  In particular chapter nine addresses the issue of how to recognize the tactics of manipulation and control.  This chapter was of great importance to me because after years of counseling persons who were sexually abused as children this chapter gives information that helps to create healthy boundaries when one has to deal with an individual who preys upon with weak personal boundaries. 

Simon's observes:  "Traditional models of human behavior and personality are not helpful when it comes to understanding the character disturbed individual...  All character-disordered individuals, especially aggressive personalities, use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want.  The behaviors... enumerated in this chapter simultaneously accomplish several things that can lead to victimization...  It's not possible to list all the tactics a good manipulator is capable of using to hoodwink or gain advantage over others... However, a good manipulator will often throw so many of these at you at once that you might not realize how badly you've been manipulated until it's too late." 

Let's face it the business arena has become the playground of the manipulator intending to practice sexual harassment.  He is fiendishly clever and opportunistic.  He truly walks about in sheep's clothing waiting and lurking about for a personality type upon which to ply his craft.  The following are some of the tactics that Simon's cites as used by the manipulator. 
  • Minimization:  When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming.   
  • Denial:  This "Who...Me?" tactic invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior.  It's also the way the aggressor gives himself/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do.  
  • Diversion:  Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.  Sometimes this can be very subtle.  

It is very important to become as astute a possible with the tactics of manipulators so as to avoid victimization in the business environment.  However, it is often difficult because a highly skilled tactician knows when he is up against an amateur who has some formal academic training in manipulative behavior but who is yet  not experientially qualified to competently negotiate his or her skill set in this dark area of human behavior. 

Remember sexual harassment is the abuse of power, and it is therefore important to have one's head in "the game."  Corporate training in the behavior of manipulative tactics and control may not yet be mandated for businesses, but it should be.  As we have become more aware of the intrinsic presence of sexual harassment in the corporate world so must it become equally important to educate the workforce in psychological self-defense. 

In my next submission I will explore more of the diabolic methods used by manipulators to disarm and defeat the unwary and unsuspecting individual who may or may not know that he or she has been targeted for manipulative advantage. "Sex In The Forbidden Zone" is no longer merely problematic it is a corporate pandemic disease that poses a grave and substantive threat to American business culture.

MVP Seminars provides sexual harassment training, coaching, and consultation for corporate and local government institutions who want their employees and management personnel to receive mandated sexual harassment training with uncompromising excellence.
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There is an old story of Spanish origin upon which Hans Christian Anderson based his tale of  "The Emperor's New Clothes."   The story is about a considerably vain emperor who cared only about wearing the finest and most beautiful clothing.  It happened that two weavers came along who knew of the emperor's obsessive preoccupation with clothing and promised to create for him a suit of clothing unlike any other that would be made from a fabric that was invisible.

The weavers told the emperor that only those who were unfit for their station would be unable to the see the fabulous fabric.  The egocentric emperor believed the words of the weavers, and after a time they presented the emperor with his new suit of clothes.  The emperor adorned his new clothes, and he was highly pleased with their exquisite workmanship.   The weavers assured the emperor that the only ones who could not see his new clothes were "hopelessly stupid."

The emperor presented himself to his court in his new clothes and all of them praised the emperor for the regal splendor of his new clothes.  The emperor then decided to present himself before his subjects in his new clothes, and as he passed by them there was a collective gasp as they too flattered the emperor by pretending to see what obviously was not there- a suit of clothing.

A voice arose from the bewildered and shocked onlookers that shouted out the unspeakable : " But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The voice that disclosed the reality of the emperor's real status was that of a child. The child was unencumbered by the consensus of denial.  The child was untutored in the society of pretense, and so he spoke a dangerous truth.  The child did not yet understand the unspoken consensus of the status quo.  His psyche had not yet been fully socialized in polite blindness and dubious fiction.  He did not yet have full membership in the culture of the "People Of the Lie."

The child's reality calculus was indeed naive. He was not yet educated beyond his intelligence, he could see things that others dare not see.  So now in our day, and in our time a modern day emperor who was clothed in a suit of political power, and who believed that no one would dare to reveal the unspeakable has found that a lone voice arose to brave the storm of mockery and criticism to speak the unspeakable.

In a Southern California city, an "emperor" of sorts has been found wanting by the electorate because it seems that he routinely practiced sexual harassment of females within his periphery.  A woman came forth who believed that "Further Silence Is Impossible" and made the painfully ironic disclosure that the emperor  wasn't "...wearing anything at all" and created a groundswell and outrage, and support for the victimized.

The mantel of political invincibility was a mirage, and now it seems that one can indeed fight city hall when city hall threatens to destabilize the body politic.  For too long women have had to suffer in silence, and keep the unspeakable acts of harassment and abuse hidden.  For too long girls, and women had to wrestle with buried rage within because of those who exercised power over their lives.  Sexual exploitation  is always about the abuse of power as Poling has told us.

I have known and counseled women who have gone to other counselors about sexual harassment only to be victimized further by said counselors.  These women have had their lives further shattered by those who are suppose to be bastions of safety and trust.  Little wonder why their healing seems to get stuck in the muck. The women victimized by the emperor will never forget, but they will find wholeness through the love and support of family, and friends.

Politics is the exercise of power over others.  Sexual harassment is the exercise of power over others too. The weavers had told the emperor that his 'new' clothes could not be seen by those who were unfit or hopelessly stupid.  The emperor wanted to believe the weavers so that he could continue to play with the sexual betrayal of women.  The invisible was all too visible to women who had been exploited and came forth to tell their stories.  (Very interesting facts are often revealed in depositions).  Facts that will never be known to the public.

What has happened in this southern California city needs to become a white hot social topic.  We need serious dialogue about sexual harassment within the public sector.  MPV Seminars is devoted to instructing both businesses and city governments about sexual harassment.  If your company is in need of our services please contact MVP Seminars for topic specific information.

For more about Dr. Rich and his teaching ministry, please follow this blog and visit his website.

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Workplace harassment persists. That's really not news. Our discussion last week of Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, made that point clear. (Click here if you missed that post.)  The EEOC, in its recently released study on workplace harassment, presented a startling piece of information: Training as a prevention tool does not seem to have made an impact. No, the EEOC is not telling you that you can stop providing anti-harassment training. But if training is not shown to have made a dent in workplace harassment, wouldn't employers' efforts be better spent elswhere? To that I would say, "Hold up there, you don't have the whole story." So now, of course, I will give you the rest of the story... Click here to read the entire post on The EmpLAWyerologist...
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Whether they want to report it or not, one piece of is spreading rapidly: Gretchen Carlson, a former host at Fox News (and, yes, a former Miss Asexualharassmentfreepressjournal.inmerica) has sued Fox News for sexual harassment and retaliation. Let me say this at the outset: I am not going to try to evaluate who has the stronger case, or who I do or do not believe. We have for that--unless the case settles. "OK", you might be wondering, "what's your point then?" Here it is: even this early on in the case, all of us, employers and employees alike, can learn  a lot from this situation.  Click here to read the entire post on The EmpLAWyerologist... 
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As stated in my previous leadership post, an excellent leader has systems by which and through which the business or organization is managed. This makes it much easier to manage well.  These systems help keep your leadership stool in balance - a balanced focus on employees, on customers, on finances, and on operations. In this post I'll focus on the basis for having employee, or human resource, systems. Human resource systems are essential to excellent leadership because, collectively, the employees are the business, especially to customer perception. Therefore an excellent leader should assure that all employees are treated well and that there are channels for their voices to be heard by senior leadership. An excellent leader absolutely must have compassion for employees. This can be demonstrated to the employees by assuring that all members of management treat employees well. The biggest single factor in employee satisfaction, other than fair pay, is the employee's direct boss. If the direct boss treats the employee fairly and communicates well there is a good likelihood that the employee will feel satisfied, especially if senior management is also fair, communicates well and demonstrates beyond question that they value the employees. There is absolutely no reason for a boss not to treat employees well - certainly never any excuse for an employee to be abused even in the slightest. Three examples of important parts of an excellent human resource system that can prevent abuse of employees are:
  • A strict, well written, thorough policy essentially stating that absolutely no sexual harassment will be tolerated
  • A well written, detailed policy on employee discipline for poor performance or unacceptable behavior
  • A well written management policy and procedure manual clearly stating, among many other things, that abuse (verbal or otherwise) will not be tolerated and that this could lead to immediate dismissal from the business or organization
  The first two policies should be clearly spelled out in the Employee Handbook and all three should be thoroughly written into the Human Resource Policy and Procedure Manual. The first two policies should be thoroughly covered during employee orientation during the employee's first week of employment within the organization. The third policy should be thoroughly covered during the first week on the job for any new members of management. If you, as a senior leader, have excellent versions of these essential pieces of a human resource system then you have made your job of management much easier and have taken at least one step in assuring that you have a world-class business or organization.
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For many years [over 20] I have studied and researched early childhood sexual abuse and its harrowing trauma.  My studies have taken me to places that have challenged, frightened, angered, and offended me.  I have counseled persons who were victims of incest, spousal rape, both episodic and tenacious long term abuse.  I have counseled persons whose souls were wrapped around a false sense of culpability and blame for their victimization. They can see themselves as less than others, and more remarkably not fully human.  In some sense the abuse  created within the victims a mythic sense of self.  Virginia Wolfe, a victim of sexual abuse called herself an ancient one who was older than others.  Some believe that Mary Shelly's Frankenstein was modeled after the fetid and decaying  human matter that abused her too. Sexual abuse is built upon the systematic brain-washing of the victim.  This is referred to as seasoning in some circles.  In his powerful and epic work entitled 'Soul Murder' Leonard Shelgold, M.D., writes of the type of brain-washing that conditions the victim for abuse by using the icy words of Orwell: "Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling.  Everything will be dead in you.  Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity.  You will be hollow.  We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves." Judith Lewis Hermann writes: "The perpetrator's first goal appears to be the enslavement of his victim, and he  accomplishes this goal by exercising despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life.  But simple compliance rarely satisfies him; he appears to have a psychological need to justify his crimes, and for this he needs his victim's affirmation.  Thus he relentlessly demands from his victim professions of respect, gratitude, or even love.  His ultimate goal appears to be the creation of a willing victim." You say, well what has this kind of information to do with sexual harassment in the workplace?  Well, few victims of sexual abuse tell their stories.  They keep them to themselves fearing the social consequences thereof.  They have been trained to keep terrible existential secrets.  They will display a decided perfectionist attitude at work.  They will do everything for others, and rarely do anything  positive for themselves.  They are masters of detail and seemingly tireless. A strong policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment will go a long way in making these persons feel safe and secure in the workplace, and besides it is the law.  The victims of sexual abuse take a long time to heal from their trauma.  Sometimes it takes a lifetime. But many can overcome their enormous pain through therapy and group support.  Lets's make the work environment safe for these persons too.
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