Embracing What’s Wrong to Get to What’s Right – Tony Schwartz – Harvard Business Review

Tony Schwartz describes CEOs as Chief Energy Officers and writes here about his experience of re-orienting a meeting where he was feeding the group many new ideas with enthusiasm, and not receiving the warm welcome he had hoped for.  Instead he was hearing about people’s stress and lack of recognition for the work done so far.

My two favourite points in his response:

“Because human beings have a strong “negativity bias,” we pay more attention to our bad feelings than to our good ones. It once clearly served our survival to be vigilant about what might go wrong and that instinct persists. Today, it may serve to buffer us from disappointment, but it also promotes disproportionate and destructive discontent. The simple question “What’s going right?” provides ballast in tough times.”


“The highest skill — whatever your role — is the willingness to embrace opposite feelings without choosing up sides. Acknowledging bad feelings is key to being able to address what’s causing them. Recognizing they’re only one part of the story frees us to notice what we feel good about and grateful for, which helps us to feel positive even in the face of ongoing challenges.”

I’d add a third observation from the first rate materials and training that I have received from the National Managers’ Community in the Government of Canada: Behind every complaint is a commitment.  Whereas in my early days as a manager my instincts might lead me to wonder why people were “just being oppositional” when work needed to get done,  when now I take the space for explorations of the values that people are indirectly expressing when they are  complaining, I have found important information that may provide a jumping off point to a better working relationship. The number one reason that people are complaining:  they want sufficient time and space to submit a good product.

via Embracing What’s Wrong to Get to What’s Right – Tony Schwartz – Harvard Business Review.


How to Handle Stress in the Moment – HBR

Some good tips here on managing stress on the spot.

My favourites:

– Identify your stress signals so you can react appropriately.

– Re-frame stress as an occasion to focus on something important that matters to you.

They also mention taking three deep breaths before you respond.  What I’ve found is that I may have time for just one but it is the equivalent of when we say “3-2-1, pause” at the end of a tutoring session.  One deep breath is often enough time to think instead of react.

I’ve also found the benefit of doing a quick check to see if a decision or feedback is really required on the spot or not. If not, no harm in asking to pend a decision when you’ve had more time to think on it.

via How to Handle Stress in the Moment – HBR.

Crucial Skills » Regaining Your Boss’ Trust

D.Munoz-Santos / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Crucial Skills » Regaining Your Boss’ Trust.

This is quite a good and practical piece on how to regain your boss’s trust after things to awry.

I particularly appreciated that the authors suggest that you examine the story you are telling yourself about a situation to see if you are making it unnecessarily dire and therefore filling your own world with extra anxiety, thus making the situation even worse.

In addition, they give some good suggestions on how to repair the relationship itself including: going the extra mile and proceeding with the optimistic view that both parties want to advance the relationship for the better.