Nathan Regier

Two Mistakes That Will Kill Your Employee Recognition Program

This SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that less than 30% of employees surveyed were satisfied with their organization’s recognition efforts. Among organizations who had a formal recognition program, less than 50% were satisfied.

How can it be that even among organizations who are making the effort and have good intentions, less than half of their employees are satisfied?

Two mistakes can kill even the best-intentioned recognition efforts; Focus on recognition instead of motivation, and selective hearing which leads to prejudice. (more…)

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Ten Permissions That Will Add Positive Energy To Your Life

Do you live with silent “inhibitors” in your life, those ingrained beliefs about what you should or shouldn’t do? “Work before play,” “Don’t have too much fun, “Never take credit.” Over time, without even realizing it, these inhibitors infect our lives and can really hold us back.

That’s why I am so grateful for the Ten Permissions given to me by Taibi Kahler, award-winning psychologist, developer of the Process Communication Model (PCM®), and a father-figure/mentor for me. Permission is one of the most important and valuable gifts we can give ourselves and others. These have helped me through many stuck points and sleepless nights. I’d like to share them with you. (more…)

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Five Strategies For More Spectacular Failures

MichaelJordanEverybody fails. The question isn’t if or when, but how. How spectacular are your failures?  Here are five strategies to increase the chance of your failures becoming something spectacular.

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. (more…)

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Improving the Optics

In 2010 Ben Zimmer published an article in the New York Times called “Optics”, where he described the phenomenon where politicians fret about the public perception of a decision more than the substance of the decision itself. Of course, elected officials have worried about outward appearances since time immemorial, but optics puts a new spin on things, giving a scientific-sounding gloss to P.R. and image-making.

I watch a lot of cable news. I admit, I’m a glutton for punishment. Watching the anchors, the interviews, and the spin factory is a study in personality and drama. It’s also a study in Optics – perception management.

Long before Ben Zimmer and the New York Times, a psychiatrist named Taibi Kahler was researching how human personality influences how we perceive the world around us and filter our experiences. Kahler discovered six distinct perceptual filters that color our optics. He associated these filters with a “currency” of communication – the legal tender that influences how people conduct transactions and influence each other. It’s how they listen and engage with, or tune out and turn against, the message and the messenger. Which currency is your strongest optical lens?


If it’s logical, I’m in. I listen to facts and I’ll fact-check everything. I will listen to you if you can back it up with data. I’ll tune you out if you aren’t rational. It’s not called flip-flopping, it’s called “adjusting based on the information.”


If it connects with my beliefs, I’m in. You had me at “loyalty and patriotism.” If it seems inconsistent, willy nilly, or devoid of strong convictions, I’m out. You lost me at “I changed my mind because of new information.”


If what your saying resonates with my sense of community, family, and care for others, I’ll listen. If you don’t seem to care about the people-impact, I assume you are mean and uncaring. I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.


If it’s clever, funny or grabs my attention, I’m in. If it’s bland or infected with research and moral mumbo-jumbo, I’m outa here. Bright shiny objects, here I come!


Show me you can be reflective and open-minded and I’ll consider your perspective. If you push me to accept simplified black and white interpretations, I’ll check out because it shows me you don’t have the imagination to solve the big, messy problems.


Wow me. Sell me. But don’t manipulate me. If you show me a way to be part of something amazing, I’ll be your agent! If you try to corner me, play me, or take advantage of my insecurities, I’ll be your worst enemy. I might even call Omorosa.

Optics matter more than reality. Often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference. Who are you talking to, and how are they experiencing your message? We have data on what percentage of the population uses each perceptual filter. Happy to share; just give us a call.

Join a Next Element PCM seminar to learn how to recognize you own optical illusions and improve your vision for what’s going on around you. Learn how the strategies used by a past president, a top military general, a Pixar Studios movie director, and a NASA chief psychiatrist can transform how you communicate.

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Sharing Responsibility For Learning Outcomes

I’m writing this post on the heels the 2018 Association for Challenge Course Technology International Conference in Ft Worth Texas, where I delivered the opening keynote and a workshop on how positive and negative conflict manifest in facilitation.

In general, people don’t like conflict. The challenge course industry is no different. The majority of participants who came to my workshop and our exhibit booth agreed that they struggle with conflict too, even though most of them are in the business of helping people get along better. In the last year we surveyed nearly 2000 people in the general public about their response to conflict. 72% of all participants say they choose compromise to avoid conflict. Nearly one third habitually slip into drama. 

Drama is what happens when we fall into one of three behavioral roles and seek justification for our behavior while losing sight of effectiveness. It’s called the Drama Triangle.

The Persecutor assumes the position that they are OK, others are not, so they feel justified in using intimidation, guilt, blame, and attacks to get what they want. Victims assume the opposite position, putting themselves down and inviting criticism. Rescuers overthink and over-do for others with unsolicited advice, violating another person’s autonomy and free choice while creating dependence.

Training and Development professionals aren’t immune from drama. We surveyed over 500 L&D professionals at the 2016 and 2017 ATD international conferences using our Drama Resilience Assessment (DRA), an online assessment of a person’s risk for each of the three drama roles, as well as their capacity to choose a more constructive course of action. Participants in our survey exhibited the highest risk on Rescuer role. Rescuers often have an air of superiority with an attitude of “I know what’s best for you.” The next most common role was Victim. Many professionals we spoke with described how they switch from Rescuer to Victim if their help isn’t appreciated or their efforts backfire. Many described their bosses as the Persecutor!

There’s a better way. It’s called Compassionate Accountability; blending kindness, care, and concern with attention to results and boundaries. Compassionate Accountability replaces the roles of Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor with the skills of Openness, Resourcefulness, and Persistence to create a learning environment where responsibility for learning outcomes is shared, in a spirit of dignity.

Compassion means “to struggle with others” in a spirit of dignity and respect.

Openness is about confident transparency and support. Open people share their feelings and disclose their motives. They validate and accept others’ feelings and motives. Openness supports an environment of safety where the real issues get talked about, reinforcing the message, “We are worthwhile.”

Resourcefulness is about creative problem-solving, engaging people collaboratively to find the best solution. Resourceful people put their ego aside so that they can learn from failure and avoid getting invested in their own solution. Resourcefulness supports an environment of curiosity, reinforcing the message, “We are capable.”

Persistence is about boundaries, principles, and commitment. Persistent people keep promises, uphold their principles, and encourage others to follow through on commitments without attacking or blaming. Persistence supports an environment of consistency, reinforcing the message, “We are accountable.”

Putting it all together, L&D professionals can change how they relate to co-learners by using all three skills to engage conflict without casualties. Can you see the Open, Resourceful, and Persistent components of this statement below?

I feel anxious about where we are in the curriculum today. I’d really like to make it through section two before 4 PM and we are a little behind. What ideas do you have for catching up? I’m committed to covering the material in the most helpful way possible. 

I’m feeling defensive because I care deeply about this topic and want to be helpful. When you questioned my credentials in front of the group, I took it personal. I’d like to explore other ways of getting feedback. It’s important to me to preserve my dignity while being open to constructive feedback.

A mentor once told me, “If you are doing more work than your client, you’re doing something wrong.” Practice compassionate accountability to share the load.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, 2018

Get the book, Conflict Without Casualties!

Develop your Compassionate Accountability Skills

Get Certified to deliver Compassionate Accountability

Get connected with Next Element!




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What My Daughter Taught Me About Boundaries

A few years ago I was lecturing my middle daughter, Emily, about something that really didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. All of the sudden, she put up her hand, palm in my face, and told me in her most assertive (and slightly sassy) voice,

“Dad, you do you, and I’ll do me.”

Emily’s message was neither an act of defiance nor a plea to leave her the heck alone. It was a profound statement of boundaries. It was a statement of identity and self-determination. She’s a great kid. She follows the rules and respects her parents. And, she knows who she is. I’m proud of her for resisting these three boundary-violations and teaching me about where I should be spending my energy instead.

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With Gratitude For The Struggle

Lately, I’ve been using “With gratitude” more in my salutations. And I sincerely mean it.

Here are some things I am grateful for;

  • You, because you are here with me right now reading this post, and I appreciate that.
  • My community at Next Element for being open, resourceful, and persistent in order to practice what we preach and tenaciously pursue our mission.
  • My wife, Julie. Loving, conscientious, smart, playful, dependable, wise, and elegant.
  • Failures that invite humility and lead to better ways of doing things.
  • College-age children who come home feeling grateful for family, actually wanting to be around and talk about things that matter to them.
  • Yard work that helps me feel sore, alive, and satisfied.
  • Wisdom from people who have learned valuable lessons and are willing to share it with others.
  • My mom, my father in-law, and my other father figure and mentor, Taibi, for being the kind of parents a 50 year-old needs.
  • Fresh ground coffee and home-made whipped cream.
  • Stories of changed lives from our global network of trainers, coaches, facilitators, and consultants.
  • Opportunities to make a difference in my community.
  • A BBQ smoker I found across the street that a neighbor was throwing away.
  • Friends of 30 years who love each other and would do anything for each other no matter how long it’s been.
  • Anyone who has taken a stand against sexual assault, bigotry, and economic oppression.
  • All the bloggers and podcasters who have welcomed me on their shows and lent me their platform to share our message of compassionate accountability.
  • Trevor Noah’s fabulous new book, Born A Crime, for triggering a flood of memories from my high school years in Southern Africa. And for teaching me so much more about apartheid. I recommend the audiobook since it’s narrated by Trevor himself.

None of these things has made my life easier or more luxurious (except the coffee). They have added meaning, purpose, and connection. Life is about struggling together. There’s no greater gift than a struggle that creates something amazing. Especially when it happens with others.

Where have you found gratitude in the struggle? Will you share?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2017

Let’s stay connected. Click here to select your area of interest. 

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Dov Baron: Leadership and Loyalty Show


I recently had the privilege of presenting a pre-conference workshop, breakout session, and plenary session for the 2017 Kansas Conference on Poverty. It was a terrific experience sharing the message of compassionate accountability and leveraging personality differences to a passionate audience seeking to end poverty in our state.

I was pretty excited about making a positive impact until I heard Glenn Martin speak. Wow! Talk about putting things into perspective. Have you ever felt like others were making a bigger difference than you, like others were doing really important work compared to yours? Have you ever felt your efforts aren’t really that significant compared to others? I experience it from time to time, and here’s my story of a recent example. (more…)

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Five Most Popular Episodes On Nate’s Podcast

About a year ago I decided to start making podcasts as another way to share content that my readers and our clients were finding valuable. I made a few myself, and then began interviewing other thought-leaders about their perspective on leadership, communication, and healthy relationships. It’s been a wonderfully rewarding process and I look forward to continuing this.

In case you haven’t been following my podcast and want to give it a try, I’ve compiled a list of the five post popular episodes over the last year. Enjoy!

What is Compassionate Accountability?

In this interview I discuss the concept of Compassionate Accountability and how it can be used to improve relationships at work and home. Learn the difference between negative conflict (Drama) and positive conflict (Compassion), discover how positive conflict can be used to create amazing outcomes, and hear powerful case examples of these concepts in action.

Conflict Without Casualties Book Author Interview

I shares why I wrote the book, my relationship with the authors who have endorsed it, what’s unique about this book within the leadership field, and how it relates to Next Element’s Leading Out of Drama training and coaching system.

Leading Out of Drama

What does it mean to lead out of drama? I talk about the nature of conflict, how drama happens, and how everyone of us can make a choice to lead out of drama into Compassionate Accountability. What does drama cost organizations and individuals, and how can the concepts of Compassionate Accountability be put to work to make a difference in your life? Find answers to these questions and many more in this episode.

The Power of Questions: With Marshall Goldsmith

I interview Marshall Goldsmith, world renowned business educator and coach, on the power of questions. Marshall shares his wisdom around these topics:

  • What’s the difference between active and passive questions?
  • What are the Six Engaging Questions to start every day?
  • What are the top three questions we should ask ourselves when facing leadership challenges?
  • What are the most important things to focus on each day?

Making Better Apologies

Why do so many apologies fall flat? What makes a great apology. Using personal, real-life examples I outline a four-step process for making great apologies that balance compassion with accountability.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, 2017
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Compassionate Accountability Hits World Stage At ATD

thumb_IMG_5237_1024Returning as last year’s Newcomer of the Year, we didn’t know what to expect at this year’s Association for Talent Development International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, GA. We were committed to better focus, clearer branding, better materials, and even more emphasis on building high-quality relationships with our clients.

We were overwhelmed by the response!

Here’s what we experienced;

Companies all over the world want to build cultures of Compassionate Accountability.

They are yearning for a way to harness the positive potential in conflict.

They want more than theory and superficial prescriptions.

They want real strategies, real tools, and real behavior change.

Visitors to our booth got to try out our assessments, get live debriefing, and look through our training curriculum and support materials.

IMG_20170524_094336Using our experiential floor model, we demonstrated concepts “in action” and walked people through how to use compassionate accountability strategies to address their most pressing conflict communication challenges.

There was no down-time at our booth – we were busy continuously, keeping our team of eight on their feet! Part of it was that people wanted to go deep, spend some time, and really get to know our models and systems. Part of it, we guessed, was the intuitive appeal and attraction of conflict without casualties.


Nate’s workshop, Conflict Without Casualties, was full and the response was tremendous.

If you were at ATD and visited our booth or are part of our Next Element extended family, THANK YOU for your support and passion. If you didn’t make it and want to join the movement to transform negative drama into compassionate accountability, we’d love to hear from you.

See you next year in SanDiego!

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