Drama-Based Storytelling Lowers Emotional Intelligence

Storytelling is fundamentally human. Stories give meaning to our lives and make connections between people and across generations. Stories can also mislead us in ways that reduce our ability to think clearly, respond thoughtfully and seek the best obtainable truth, especially when emotions run high. In his TedX talk, Tyler Cowan, an economist, warns us to be suspicious of stories that oversimplify the messiness of our lives in exchange for media hype.


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Four Signs Your Boss is Toxic, And How to Handle It

A toxic boss can ruin a great work environment and leave a wake of drama. You can let it take you down, or take initiative to stay out of the drama and be a positive influence.

Four signs your boss is toxic:

  1. Questions motives instead of asking curious questions. Toxic bosses regularly jump to conclusions and assume nefarious intentions. If they would ask curious questions instead, they’d find out that most people are doing their best and trying to do the right thing.
  2. Motivates with intimidation. Toxic bosses are willing to undermine dignity to get what they want. They believe they are OK and others are not-OK, which enables them to sleep at night even when they abuse their people during the day.
  3. Lacks awareness. Toxic bosses lack insight into their own behavior, motivations, or impact on others. They are clueless about how ineffective they are.
  4. Low emotional intelligence. Toxic bosses have a toxic relationship with their own emotions. They don’t know how to express them in healthy ways, and they don’t know how to deal effectively with other people’s emotions.

Four tips for handling a toxic boss: (more…)

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Turning Social Media Drama Into Positive Energy

“You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” – Tim Fargo

I wish I would have met and interviewed Tim Fargo a long time ago. It might have saved me some heartache from misguided Facebook posts or e-mails sent in the heat of the moment.

Tim Fargo is an entrepreneur, 2X Inc. 500 winner, international speaker, best-selling author, and president and CEO of Social Jukebox, a social media content management system. Tim wrote the Amazon best selling book, Alphabet Success, which distills the business and leadership lessons he’s learned through his journey of building and leading several highly successful companies.

Recently I interviewed Tim about social media drama, and how to turn it into positive energy.

The full interview is posted on my podcast.

Hear Tim’s wisdom on how to stay positive with social media. The first half focuses around healthy personal habits with social media. The second half focuses more on strategic use of social media. If you use SM for your business, there are some great tips in here! Learn about Social Jukebox, a terrific tool for being strategic in your social media activity.

Other nuggets from this podcast:

  • What’s the value of being strategic?
  • Who do you want to be online?
  • The role of social media in politics
  • Analysis of how Donald Trump is using of Twitter
  • When is it time to disengage?
  • From echo chamber to Social Media strategy
Copyright 2017, Next Element Consulting

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CWC + Discussion Guide

Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive guide for balancing compassion and accountability to build relationships that are safe, curious, and consistent.


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Four Counterproductive Myths About Conflict

This article was originally published in Fast Company

Conflict has a bad rap. Just think of the word. Ask people the first things that come mind when they hear it, and they’ll often say things like, “run away,” “somebody gets hurt,” “I hate it,” “fighting,” or “war.” Most peoples’ negative associations with conflict come from personal experience. Mine do, too. I grew up the son of Mennonite missionary parents. Mennonites are a Protestant denomination known for nonviolent conflict resolution. The early messages I heard growing up were, “Turn the other cheek” or “Find a way to solve your problem without resorting to violence.” My parents dedicated their lives to building more peaceful and uplifting relationships with others.

Conflict can be destructive, but it by no means has to be.


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What Can Basketball Teach Us About Drama?

Dr. Stephen Karpman loves sports. He is also an internationally acclaimed psychiatrist, author, therapist, and former athlete himself. As early as 1965, Karpman was doodling circles and symbols trying to figure out ways that a quarterback could outsmart the defensive halfback in football, or how offense beats defense in basketball. (more…)

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Five Questions Every Consultant Should Answer

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. (more…)

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A Working Definition of Drama

No, we aren’t talking about stage performances. We’re talking about the drama that causes a pit in your stomach, makes you want to scream, and sucks the life out of you like an energy vampire.

According to Gallup research, negative behavior costs the US economy more than $350 billion dollars annually in lost productivity. Add to this the psychological, physical, and emotional toll and the drag on our economy is unbelievable.

It’s easy to identify the behaviors of drama: gossip, secrets, triangulating, blaming, avoiding, blowing up…the list goes on. A working definition that helps us get a handle on it is a bit more difficult. Over the last ten years advising and training leaders on how to deal with negative workplace conflict, we’ve evolved this definition of drama.

Drama is what happens when people struggle against themselves or each other, with or without awareness, to feel justified about their negative attention behavior.

  • Drama is about struggling against. There’s always a winner and a loser. The fight may be internal, between people, or involving companies and nations.
  • Drama happens with or without awareness. How each person behaves in drama is predictable and habitual. It’s highly predicted by personality and amazingly consistent from day to day.
  • Feeling justified is the modus operandi in drama. If I’m in drama, my ultimate motivation is to be able to say “See, I was right!” This is why drama has such a negative impact on productivity; because people are spending energy trying to feel justified.
  • Drama is all about negative attention behavior. Humans need attention. Period. If we don’t get it in positive ways, we’ll get it negatively. It’s the next best thing, and far better than being ignored.

HelpWriteNextBookBeyond-Drama-Book-w_reflections-and-shadowThat’s our working definition, one that we introduced in our first book, Beyond Drama, and will continue to evolve in our next book. What’s your perspective? How does this fit with your experience? Does it provide any insights? If you’ve been exposed to our work, how has this definition worked for you? Will you leave a comment?


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