Word-Of-the-Week #910: Enable

January 13, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Enable the limits you define in relationship to someone or to something.

Do you take on more than your fair share of responsibilities? Is it because others tend to procrastinate, and you want to get the job done? Does that ever make you feel resentful?

This word came up for me because I have been enabling people and I know longer want to do that! Enabling “is doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves.” I am married to Mr. DIN (Do It Now) which has made me become Mrs. DIN after being together going on 19 years.

I ‍love having a list and checking things off when they’re completed. What makes me crazy is having to follow up repeatedly on others who are not doing what they should be doing. While I am no longer in the workforce, I am on two volunteer boards. I realized that one of the main reasons I was being an enabler was because I have a lot of empathy. I always think of how I would feel if it were me and I want to be helpful. But I also realized I was doing that at my expense many times.

That caused me to create boundaries about what I no longer wanted to do.

I am adding excerpts from “The Difference Between a Bad enabler and an Enabler at Work” by Ryan Carruthers.‍

“This article is all about enablers in business and how you can learn to be one. Despite all the great things we’ve already said about business enablers the term enabler isn’t at all good. There’s a difference between a bad enabler and a good enabler in business. Here’s why:‍

  •  A Bad Enabler‍ 

In a negative context, an enabler can be someone who supports someone else’s bad behaviour or even addiction. They avoid the hard conversations about the behaviour of someone else and instead provide them with the means to continue their destructive behaviour. 

They may even provide financial support, so the destructive behaviour continues. Bad enablers make excuses for the person they are supporting. 

The reputable wellness publication, Healthline defines enablers as: “Someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior.” 

Enablers want to help, but, despite their good intentions, they fail to actually help the person they care about. They may believe that without their help (or what they think is help) the person who’s suffering from an addiction or negative habit would be worse off. Healthline lists several indicators of negative enabling behavior: 

Ignoring or tolerating problematic behavior.

Providing financial assistance.

Brushing things off.

Not maintaining your stated boundaries.

Feeling resentment toward the person they’re supposed to help. 

These indicators reveal a flawed mindset around what is best for the other person. 

Now that we know what an enabler is in the negative context let’s move to shed light on what a good enabler is in business. ‍ 

  • A Good Enabler 

An enabler is a leader or manager who supports their team and helps them accomplish their goals in a positive context. They don’t hold their teams back but clear the way to do what they do best. 

The best leaders give their team an understanding of why their work is essential. These managers help team members to contribute fully. 

An enabling leader takes the team’s vision to the rest of the company as an advocate. They work to build bridges and cultivate cooperation and goodwill with others in the organization. Enablers also aim to remove obstacles to their team’s success. 

Both enablers create the opportunity for individuals or teams to act. Whether that’s good or bad depends on the context. 

This week’s focus is on enabling. Are you doing things for others that they could and should be doing themselves? Have you set clear boundaries? Do you work to build bridges and cultivate cooperation and goodwill with others?

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