Thursday, November 2, 2006

Putting down the betrayal dragon

Learning & Innovation – November 2, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Putting down the betrayal dragon

My favorite taxi driver remarks, “Tayong mga Pinoy nagiging makasarili habang lumalaon. Kanya-kanya tayo, walang pakialam sa kapwa o sa kinabukasan.” (We Filipinos are getting more and more self-centered. We simply act as we want to without care for the other person.)

Sad, but I agree with him entirely. This happens in the street. Pedestrians cross the street anytime they want unmindful of the red traffic light. Public utility vehicles stopping anywhere to pick up or drop off passengers, even in the middle of the street, without regard for the chaos that they are initiating and without thought about the safety of their passengers, other vehicles and their own passengers. Their reason is an uncaring attitude, “nagtatrabaho ako, eh ano ngayon?” (I am working, so what gives?) People using the sidewalks for purposes other than for pedestrians to walk safely on —store, restaurant, beauty salon, garbage depository, parking, garden, and cock-breeding among others.

This is also evident when businesses operate as if there is no tomorrow, as if resources will be available for as long as they are needed, as if profit is the end all and be all of business, as if they operate in a vacuum, as if their operations do not affect the environment, as if downsizing or bypassing someone for promotion is in the best interest of the long-term health of the organization, and the list goes on.

Last column we discussed several examples of betrayals in the workplace.

Can you think of other kinds of betrayal that you see and experience in your organization, team, (family, social) or individual relationships? “What happened? What story do they tell about you? (Your organization? Your family? Your friends? You, as a Filipino?) What did you feel—emotionally, psychologically, spiritually? What did you do about the situation? How did you respond to the experience of betrayal? What short-term and long-term impact did the experience have on you? What key insights, critical issues and areas of vulnerability do you read from them?”

Other than these questions, authors Dennis and Michelle Reina writes in their book, Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace, “we betray others when we are absorbed with ourselves. In our absorption, we lose sight of others. As a result, when we betray another, we first betray ourselves.” Being self-centered and selfish are acts of betrayal. They happen when decisions and are made and acted upon that affect other people’s lives without awareness and sensitivity to their impact.

“When we have been betrayed, we often feel helpless and hopeless. We feel as though we have no control over what was “done to us.” We indeed do not have control over the behaviors of others; however, we do have control over how we choose to respond. We may choose to remain angry, bitter, or resentful or to assume the posture of a victim. We may even choose to betray in return to get back at the betrayer. We may choose to embrace the pain of betrayal. We may seek to understand it and to work through it to heal, to deepen our understanding of our relationships with ourselves and with others.

“Betrayal is often not a result of what happened but rather of the how it happened. Experiencing betrayal is like experiencing a death. We have feelings of loss—of plans, jobs, dreams, relationships, trust in others and in ourselves. Our hearts ache, our capacity to trust may be bruised, and our innocence tarnished. To get over these regrettable experience, we need to go through a grieving and healing process.”

The Reinas recommend seven steps for healing: 1. Observe and acknowledge what has happened, 2. Allow feelings to surface, 3. Get support, 4. Reframe the experience, 5. Take responsibility, 6. Forgive yourself and others and, 7. Let go and move on.

And may I add, do something to rectify the wrong or to prevent it from happening. Alexander Lacson did just that when he wrote his book, 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country. MMDA Chairman is cleaning up the sidewalks of squatters. Businesses are becoming more aware and doing something about corporate governance e and social responsibility. What do we do with jeepney and bus drivers? What do we do with our politicians? Next time around, how will you respond to a personal betrayal?

(Moje is a consultant on organization and human resource development and could be reached at

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