When Your “Little Brother” Shows Up at Work

Earlier this afternoon, I was in a business meeting with an employment defense litigator and a fellow workplace investigator, discussing my law practice expansion into workplace investigations.

The workplace investigator knew I had entered her professional fold but hadn’t realized I was continuing to practice family law. She said, “That combination makes sense. When people have a workplace complaint, they are often in difficult circumstances, so you must be able to navigate their emotions.”

I replied, “Well, you know how they say that we reenact our family dramas in our workplaces.”

Both colleagues smiled and said they’d never heard this before. It was fun to watch them scanning their memories with this context in mind.

If you’re working in a group and one of your teammates bugs you the way your little brother once did (and probably still does!), that’s no coincidence. It’s psychology. And I believe that when you’re working with others, your past and present family issues come up.

If you are enduring something as heartrending as divorce, you need a psychologically-oriented professional who can wade through your complicated family dynamics and present you with workable strategies to move your life forward. And if one of your employees has lodged a complaint of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, you’ll want to engage an investigator who can apply those same deductive skills to reach fair and well-analyzed factual conclusions about what took place in your organization.

Of course, familial matters and workplace misconduct are both complex and nuanced issues that defy simple comparison. But child custody litigation, premarital agreement negotiations, and workplace investigations all require someone who knows how to mediate human conflict. The health of our families and workplaces depends on it.