Paul’s Story January 2010

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Paul’s Story

January 2010

Paul’s story is used in teaching working/not working
Paul is someone whose great sense of humor and quick wit make visiting with him an enjoyable adventure.   He loves video games and his computer knowledge and his programs have helped many of us try and learn new things.  At the time of this story he was 26 years old who enjoys hanging out with the guys and visiting his family on weekends. Paul has always wanted to live in his own home and he does. Another thing that Paul has always wanted to do is have a job, and he does. Paul makes enough money to support himself, do fun things and buy his family gifts for their birthdays and on holidays.
Paul’s employer is happy with the work Paul does; he gets things done and done right, is dependable and gets along well with his co-workers. He’s happy with his decision to employ Paul. One of the requirements for all employees is to wear a clean “uniform”. His uniform consists of a white polo shirt and a pair of black pants. Paul has two white polo shirts and two pairs of black pants. When asked about the expectation that he will always come to work in a clean uniform Paul says “no problem, I will do my laundry every other day”.
Things are rolling along pretty smooth, till one day, Paul’s job becomes at risk, not because he isn’t doing his job or not getting along with his co-workers, it’s because he’s wearing dirty polo shirts.
Is Paul having a job important to or for him?

  • to him, he goes to work, does his work without concerns, and earns money that he want to have

Is Paul wearing a clean uniform important to or important for him?

– for him, he’s not doing it, but he needs to wear a clean uniform to keep his job.

This is a true story. Wearing a clean uniform/doing his laundry became a huge topic of debate. There were staff members who were saying – “if he won’t do his laundry, than he shouldn’t be employed”. “He’s not taking responsibility; therefore, he should be fired”. They were serious.
Staff were stuck. To help staff move forward a working/not working was completed.


What is working/makes sense

What is not working/doesn’t make sense



Friends at work-co-workers Having a job

When staff do my laundry

Having to do my own Laundry Boss is upset, I might lose my job Conflict with staff



Paul having a job, he’s successful at

Paul has friends at work

Paul has something he feels good about

Paul wearing dirty uniforms/clothes

Paul’s job is at risk

Constant conflict between Paul and staff – all the phone calls.



Paul having a job

When Paul does his laundry

When staff do his laundry

Having to remind Paul to do his laundry

Not being “responsible”, not doing he was as hesaid he would do



Paul as an employee –

Keeping Paul as an employee

Paul wearing dirty uniforms (he doesn’t care who or how the laundry gets done)

Having to fire Paul if he keeps showing up with a dirty uniform

Common Ground –something everyone agrees on – Paul having a job.

Ideas that were generated on how to move forward:

  • Laundry service

  • Buy more uniforms

  • Talk to mom, Paul visits his family home every weekend, could she help (wouldn’t be the first person to take his/her laundry home to mom)

Lots of ideas, the working/not working helped all involved to take a step back and plan together.

Actual outcome

Paul bought three more uniforms; he now has five and only has to do laundry once a week. Mom and Paul do his laundry together on weekends.

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