I am reposting this article because it’s as true today as it was three and a half years ago when it originally posted. Last week our team had a mini retreat to step back and reflect on how we were functioning as a team. As we evolve and grow it’s important that we tend to the team dynamics so critical to our success. What we realized again is that what really keeps us happy and productive isn’t the content of what we are doing, but how we are with each other while doing it.
Don’t make it personal
Failures are about everything EXCEPT a person’s worth. It may feel embarrassing, painful, discouraging, or even justified, and it’s not about who you are as a person. If you or others make it personal, they are derailing the possibility of learning.
Guest blog by Paul Larkin, Owner of Wavelength Consulting, Certified LOD and PCM Provider from Melbourne, Australia. Paul will be joining the Next Element team at Association for Talent Development International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, May 20-24. Paul is a trainer, consultant, professional bicycle racer, and works with high-performance athletes around mental toughness.
Conflict – for many, it’s a scary word, but for the best leaders, athletes and organisations, conflict is energy conveying a simple message: something is an opportunity to learn and improve.
This understanding underpins Next Element’s Leading Out Of Drama framework, alongside the skills required to navigate conflict without compromising dignity or accountability. We call this Compassionate Accountability.
The sources of conflict are many: change, the gaps between reality and expectation, and the presentation of those things that challenge each of us personally – whether in communication, environment or motivation.
For many who will be attending the Association for Talent Development International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, this understanding is part and parcel of our professions. We diagnose, train skills, design strategy, and on good days we get to contribute to the big wins – like Tour and World Championship performances I was lucky enough to be a small part of during my career in sport.
I’ve recently been working on an organisational learning and development program, where my research took me back to Danny Kahneman’s superb, Nobel prize winning research – captured best in 2011’s Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman’s research demonstrates how we all are subject to cognitive biasses and shortcuts that lead to predictable, often significant errors.
Much of Kahneman’s research deals with statistical processing errors, but what stood out to me this time around was how consistently Kahneman refers to another predictable result of humans operating under cognitive load: conflict.
Research shows that cognitively exhausted (the technical term is ‘ego depleted’) individuals exhibit:
- decreased discipline
- increased impulsivity
- heightened aggression in response to provocation, and
- impaired cognitive performance in logical decision making tasks
These costs cannot be overstated: strategic planning and implementation is compromised, customer relationships ruined and trust throughout organisations destroyed. In high risk industries, passengers and patients die. Conflict seems to cause even more damage than cognitive biasses and shortcuts.
So, knowledge is useful, but is a terrible predictor of behaviour. What can we do to improve?
There are a range of approaches focussing on the gaps that occur when individuals and teams are operating under stress and load. Many work to correct error with specialist technical interventions – checklists, identifying assumptions and biasses, and modeling outcomes.
Other, strength based approaches, provide guidance as to personnel suited to tasks while often failing to recognise that technical aptitude will in some circumstances exacerbate the risk factors we seek to correct for.
Research from high risk industries show that each of these types of interventions is valuable, but more often than not, ego depleted individuals and teams cease to use them altogether.
So, what about an over-arching, scaleable, skills based framework? A framework allowing teams and individuals to identify and exploit conflict to better use technical solutions, improve resilience, and build strong, empathetic and accountable relationships in each interaction?
If the value of an approach that goes beyond high performance and technical solutions, all the way to psychological safety and high performing relationships sounds like something you’d like discuss more, drop by and see me and the Next Element team at Booth 1822.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, 2017
In the two decades I’ve been working with people around behavior change, I’ve been exposed to a lot of models, from personality models, to change models, to conflict models, even models I’ve made up myself because nothing else seemed to work. What they all have in common is they claim to unlock the key to behavior change.
A model is any system or framework that attempts to organize knowledge in a more understandable and useful way. I assume the purpose of a model is to help common folk like you an I make sense of complicated stuff so we can be more effective in our lives. For me the real question becomes, “Does it make sense and am I more effective using it?”
Recently at an international conference for Process Communication Model® (PCM) Master Trainers, I was inspired by a presentation by two friends and colleagues of mine who trainer PCM in Germany and Austria. They provided a terrific contrast between models of personality that typecast people, and models of communication that teach people how to communicate for better relationships. I asked these PCM gurus to share their perspective in this guest post. Thank you to Uwe Reiner-Kolouch & Rainer Musselmann for sharing your wisdom and experience.
It’s here! We are excited to release Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading with Compassionate Accountability, now available for pre-order through our website.
Act now to take advantage of special deals on the book and discussion guide, now through June 1.
Also just released, my podcast interview about the book.
- Learn about pre-order specials
- Read early praise from NYT best-selling authors
- Get a sneak peak at the first few chapters, and the discussion guide
- Q&A with the author, Nate Regier
We appreciate your support. Will you help us share the word?
Due to popular demand I’m republishing this post on making better apologies. New this time around is my podcast interview on the topic. In this podcast I share personal stories, examples and insights about:
- Why do some apologies fall flat?
- What makes a great apology?
- How does it work in real life?
- What’s the difference between guilt and shame?
Here’s a template of what’s covered in the podcast.
You messed up. You did something wrong. What comes next makes or breaks it with your boss, employee, friend, or partner. How you apologize can either turn things back around, or make things worse.
A good apology takes humility, creativity, and skill. Here’s a formula for apologizing that can help everyone involved maintain their dignity and move towards creative problem-solving. Follow these four steps to make your apology sincere, effective, and productive.
Step 1: Share your feelings (Openness)
You messed up. You did something wrong. It doesn’t feel good. The first step is to identify and share how you feel about what you did. Are you embarrassed? Ashamed? Scared? Angry? Get real and get honest. The person to whom you are apologizing will respect your honesty. They don’t want fake emotions or false penitence. They want to know how you really feel. Trust me, it may be awkward but it works. Hiding or distancing yourself from your feelings gets you nowhere.
Step 2: Identify your behavior (Resourcefulness)
You messed up. You did something wrong. What did you do? Describe what you did. No excuses. No rationalizations. Just describe it. Unless you are explicit about your behaviors, you are avoiding responsibility. If you don’t know what you did, find out. The other person wants to know you understand what it is you are apologizing for. Vague statements like “I’m sorry for whatever may have bothered you.” are meaningless and disrespectful. Statements like “I didn’t call Johnson before Friday and that left you without the information you needed.” shows you own your behaviors and understand the consequences.
Step 3: Make it right (Persistence)
You messed up. You did something wrong. Make it right. Admitting your behavior behavior is fine. Making it right shows that you can turn mistakes into stepping stones for success. Apologies are not about feeling ashamed. They are about moving forward. What are you willing to do to fix it? Maybe it involves simple behaviors you can control. Maybe it involves asking for help to learn something new. Maybe it involves changing your attitude and approach to problems in your life. Regardless, you can only control your next move, so be prepared to suggest behaviors you are willing to implement today to change things going forward.
Step 4: Be receptive (Openness)
It’s great that you’ve come this far. An apology means you are trying to rebuild a relationship with someone else. So this is the time to stop and let them respond. Are they satisfied with what you’ve offered? What do they need and want to make things right? Stop, ask, and listen.
Here are a couple examples of this four-step process in action.
“I feel embarrassed (Step 1 – Open), because I forwarded the minutes to people who were not part of the executive team and by doing this I disclosed information that was not supposed to go beyond this group. (Step 2- Resourceful). I am willing to personally contact each person and let them know what I did and ask them to delete this message. (Step 3: Persistent). How does this work for you? (Step 4: Open).
“I feel angry (Step 1 – Open) that I missed the sales meeting this week because I know how important this is for our team performance. (Step 2- Resourceful). I’ll review the minutes and check in with you to make sure I am up to speed on what I missed. (Step 3: Persistent). Is there anything else I can do?” (Step 4: Open).
We’d love to hear from you. Will you try out this formula and let us know how it worked for you?
Here’s an interesting site dedicated to better apologies, and some fun picking apart the botched ones from famous blunders.
Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC, All rights reserved
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Are you the kind of person who holds tightly to a plan and conscientiously sees it through? Or are you the kind of person who adapts quickly and can turn on a dime?
Do you prefer playing offense in the game of life by researching a plan and executing it to the best of your ability? Or do you prefer playing defense, honing your agility and ability to read an opponent?
I’m continually surprised by how many companies are engaged in drama-based relationships with the consultants they’ve hired. Are any of these characteristics present in your relationship with a consultant?
- Consultant gives you advice from an emotional distance and doesn’t seem to care about what you are actually going through. If the advice doesn’t work, they blame it on you.
- Recommendations seem generic, not suited to your situation.
- If you question their advice, they become defensive.
- They tell you to “trust them” because they are the expert.
- They keep you dependent on them instead of building your own competence and confidence.
- They over adapt to please you or say what you want to hear instead of telling you the truth.
- They squirm when you ask about metrics or return on investment.
If you are looking to hire a consultant and want to avoid drama, require that they answer these questions to demonstrate that they will be open, resourceful and persistent with you.
Only 30% of people who get married continue to have happy, healthy marriages.
Over forty years of research on healthy relationships, pioneered by the work of John Gottman and Robert Levenson at the University of Washington, has pinpointed what qualities successful relationships have in common. Their research has found two types of couples. Gay or straight, rich or poor, with or without children, couples are either Masters or Disasters.
Masters are those who are happily together at least six years after getting married. Disasters are those whose marriage has broken up or who are chronically unhappy.
My review of the research revealed three secrets that happily married couples know and practice. These secrets all have do with the practice of compassion, or “struggling with” your partner.