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Vail Daily column: Too much tough love or not enough?

Is it really “tough love,” or when we believe we are administering “tough love” is it more out of pure love for those we are trying to help grow or protect?

Personal experience tells me that many people talk a good game, or use “tough words,” but when it comes right down to it, few of us have the courage, stamina, or patience to actually administer “tough love” when it is required. We defer to silence instead of action.

Intuitively, we know that sometimes we will be placed in a position where we are given the opportunity or maybe forced to make difficult decisions when trying to help people grow or learn. The simple part is knowing what that “tough love” action or non-action in some cases should be, executing and actually seeing it through. Well … not so easy.



The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we choosing a path of “tough love” for the right reasons, or are we using “tough love” as a manipulative tactic? Too often parents, spouses, and some managers hide behind the premise of “tough love” only to drive a personal or hidden agenda.

If our motives are based out of pure love, and honest intent to really help someone, we have no reason to fear the possible outcomes or lose heart when enforcing our decisions or actions.

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Remember that “tough love” is a concept, a philosophical approach to helping people get to a point where they see for themselves the changes that have to be made in their own personal or professional life. “Tough love” should never, ever, include acts of violence. In one man’s opinion, mine, acting out in violence or physicality in any way and then hiding behind the “tough love” moniker is not pure love, it is pure cowardice.

If we understand the why, how, what, and when to administer “tough love” and we know that by standing our ground, staying committed to the desired outcome or change, we can move forward knowing we are doing the right thing for all the right reasons.

Really, how many parents continue to extend driving privileges to a child who has their second or third speeding ticket? Even though the state may not have pulled their child’s license, the parent can certainly revoke driving privileges. Instead, what happens is that it becomes too inconvenient for the parent or siblings or friends to have to drive the child everywhere so the parents cave in and give them access to the car again. What happens is that discipline is abandoned in the face of convenience.



The same happens in the workplace. Management sometimes turns a blind eye towards certain situations or even individuals where they know what the right thing to do is, they know they need to administer “tough love” or at least make tough decisions, but ultimately choose not to. Whether it is because of a tendency to avoid conflict, to act passive-aggressively, or fear of losing an employee, they forget that sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good of the company.

Most people also have to be reminded that the outcome of “tough love” administered out of “pure love” is generally positive and better than the fears in our imagination want us to believe.

Let me know your view of “tough love” at gotonorton@gmail.com and together let’s make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of http://www.candogo.com. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.


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