Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Friday, March 18, 2016

"How to unlock resistance to change"/ "I'm unionized can I sue my employer or union?"

Apr. 29, 2015 "How to unlock resistance to change": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 29, 2014.  I like it because it's about psychology.  It's also kind of like therapy where someone asks some inquisitive questions and dig deep to find out how to solve a problem:  

The Discomfort Zone

By Marcia Reynolds

(Berrett-Koehler, 164 pages, $22.95)

Most of us prefer comfort to discomfort in conversations. So the thought of purposefully heading into what consultant Marcia Reynolds calls The Discomfort Zone is unnerving. Who needs it?

Well, actually, the person you are conversing with might desperately need it. To help people think differently, you have to disturb their automatic processing of ideas and activities. That means challenging their beliefs and bringing to the surface the fears, needs and desires that hold those beliefs in place. That requires plunging into the discomfort zone.

“People need to be aroused by surprising statements about their behaviour and by questions that make them stop and think about what they are saying. If you break through their mental frames, they will stare at you for a moment as their brains look for ways to make sense of what they are considering. Then a burst of adrenalin could cause an emotional reaction, anything from nervous laughter to anger before an insight emerges. If you act on this moment by helping to solidify the new awareness, their minds will change. If you do not facilitate this process, a strong ego may work backwards to justify the previous behaviour,” she writes in her book The Discomfort Zone.

This is not a book about difficult or confrontational conversations. There are other books that can help you through contentious conversations, where you may be under attack or have to deliver a highly unpleasant message. Those books, she notes, focus on the speaker and how to deliver a message that will achieve your preferred outcome.

This book shifts the spotlight to the person you are speaking with. You don’t have a message to deliver. You don’t tell him what you want. Instead, you provide an initial jolt, with a question, and then help him to discover and create a new reality on his own.

The discomfort zone is obviously emotional – and also involves uncertainty. It’s those two elements that can lead to success, along with your own gentle questioning to lead the other individual into reassessing the situation. The discomfort is primarily experienced by the recipient of your intervention. You may also experience discomfort or may not, depending on your outlook, skills, and the situation.

The other person’s negative emotions should be viewed as a good sign. That indicates learning is probably occurring.

“You have broken through a protective barrier in the brain. The person is finally confronting her rationalizations or seeing her blind spots. Because of this, a clearer and broader understanding of the situation can emerge,” she writes.

Ms. Reynolds gave the example of Dawn, who joined her husband’s retail business a few years ago after being laid off from a large scientific research company where she held various leadership positions. But it wasn’t going well. She believed her husband never fully backed her ideas and would not help her overcome resistance from other managers.

She sought help from a leadership coach in overcoming that resistance – but instead was asked questions that led her to realize that what she wanted was not possible in her current job.

The coach asked Dawn why she thought no one wanted to implement her ideas – was it because no one liked them or because her husband would not support her authority to implement them?

The question forced Dawn to admit that she had very little support from either her team or her husband, and that if the company were a board game, she would not even be on the board. “I’m out of the game,” she said.

It spurred a conversation that led Dawn to confess that she didn’t enjoy her job. That she didn’t even enjoy getting out of bed every day and, in fact, she felt trapped.

The breakthrough moment came when the coach asked: “So Dawn, who is trapping you?” The process helped her to understand that, in fact, there were other possibilities.

She began to free herself from the job by working with her husband to hire a general manager who could assume some of her responsibilities. With more time on her hands, she is now doing volunteer work, improving her skills, and seeking work with a larger corporation.

Discomfort for her. But, as a result, a breakthrough she pursued.

Such conversations involve building trust beforehand. You must also settle into the flow of the discussion, set and maintain your emotional-based intent, hold the highest regard for the other person and yourself, and trust the process.

The book offers a number of helpful tips to probe in a tender way and maintain equilibrium in the discomfort zone. The value of such conversations is obvious, and if you want to try helping others through the discomfort zone, the book may be a good place to start.


Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Carrot Principle and other books on rewards and recognition, look at putting your passions to work in What Motivates Me (The Culture Works, 243 pages, $30.50), which includes a passcode for a motivational assessment.

Consultant Steven Overman illuminates a cultural shift toward an economy rooted in the common good in The Conscience Economy (Bibliomotion, 190 pages, $29.50).

Canadian consultant David Hurst’s The New Ecology of Leadership (Columbia Business School, 346 pages, $19.95), a thoughtful, eclectic look at organizations, has been released in soft cover.

"I'm unionized can I sue my employer or union?": I cut out this article by Daniel Lublin in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 29, 2014:


I work for a hospital in a unionized role. I have a grievance against my employer and the union supposedly representing me is refusing to advance that grievance, telling me that it’s not going to go anywhere so it’s not worth their time and effort. Since the union is not taking the case forward, do I have any recourse in the courts?


No. If you are part of a union you cannot sue your employer in court, you must make use of the grievance procedures in the collective agreement. That said, unions have a duty of fair representation toward their members that prevents them from making decisions in bad faith, arbitrarily, or in a discriminatory manner about which grievances to pursue. You can file an administrative complaint against the union for its decision not to proceed with your grievance, but you cannot sue your employer or the union in court.


I have been sworn at and yelled at by my employer time and time again. I can’t take it anymore. I honestly wake up in the morning and don’t want to go to work because of my supervisor. I want to quit but I don’t know if I’ll be eligible to claim employment insurance benefits until I find other work. Recently, I recorded one of these insulting sessions with my supervisor. Do I have just cause to quit my job and possibly get unemployment benefits until I find another job, or even have some kind of court case?


If you are forced to quit, then it is not a true resignation. When your employer makes the job intolerable you can leave work, treat yourself as dismissed, and sue for severance while you look for another job. In order to show the job was intolerable, you need to convince a judge that no reasonable person could be expected to persevere in these circumstances. Ongoing abuse, harassment, and bullying can be good reasons to leave and sue, but the onus is on you to prove the environment was intolerable, and that is where your recording will be helpful.

Unemployment benefits are available for employees who can show that they left work for a good reason, such as ongoing harassment and bullying, or even in a response to a demotion or pay cut.

Feb. 22, 2016: 

"Not all passions come with a paycheck": I cut out this article by Jessica Napier in the Metro on Apr. 22, 2014.  I cut it out and put it into my inspirational quotes. 

She said how we changed our passion from baking pastries into a business can change the way we experience that passion.  That totally reminded me of this woman who works in this administrative department at work.  She often bakes pastries for us and says she wouldn't turn it into a business, because then she wouldn't like the baking anymore.

Mar. 18, 2016: This week at work was so busy at the restaurant.  Long lineups. 


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