Sunday, November 30, 2014

3 Keys to a Sunny Work Climate

A long time ago, in an office far, far away, Bart Snarf—a disgruntled co-worker of mine—declared: “Who needs a sunny work environment when it is easier to make it rain and get everyone muddy?  Besides, it’s fun.” Bart did enjoy it until one day his bottom was bounced out the door.  Today, I’d like to respond to Bart by commenting on his (and my) three favorite techniques.   

Bart blaming me
1. Blaming
I know blaming comes naturally, Bart.  When something goes wrong, find the culprit and cast blame. That keeps the focus off of you and even gives you a (false) sense of superiority. You should have followed Bixby’s example. Remember Bixby?

He was our first corporate manager right out of college. When something went wrong, he’d ask for a clear definition of the problem.  I remember you telling Bixby once in earshot of everyone: “The accounting is wrong and it’s all Dave Trottier’s fault.”  But Bixby didn’t acknowledge your accusation; instead, he asked you and me to find a solution.    

Let me tell you, Bart, I felt relief and some empowerment in being part of the solution. And I knew inside that Bixby knew that I, indeed, was to blame. In other words, I was still accountable for my work, but without the shame and humiliation.  And that was motivating for me, and the beginning of the end for you.

Bixby’s continuous use of the problem-solving approach freed employees to come forward when they goofed, and your blaming eventually stopped.  There was a greater sense of teamwork and more was accomplished.  Bart, for more on squashing the blame bug, read this

2. Taking things personally
My inner child crying out to Bart
This trick is closely related to blaming because it’s about avoiding being blamed. And, yes, I remember your excuse: your parents were monsters that bit the heads off of rats for amusement.  I get that, but most everyone has some level of defensiveness as a leftover from childhood.  We all feel your pain, but what can a wounded soul do?

You have free will, Bud.  That means you can do what you want.  You can choose to not take things personally and assume that good will is intended by the other.  Change the perception.  Bixby would love you for it.  Often a comment is not meant personally anyway.

For those remarks that are intended as personal, when you respond as if they weren’t, that patient response may disarm your attacker.  In any case, you make yourself free and independent.  Wow, imagine that!  And remember, if you lose your cool, you lose.  If you’re still with me, Bart, and want to learn more about not taking things personally, read this.

3. Having to be right
It’s confession time, Bart. We’ve all painting ourselves into the I’ve-gotta-be-right-no-matter-what corner more than once. The solution?  Avoid getting emotionally invested into your “rightness.”  A key to this is to not be so cocky in the first place.  Rather than “You idiot, the answer is X,” say, “I believe the answer is X; what do you think?” 

And then reason with the other.  Be persuasive rather than punishing. Use a friendly or collegial voice tone rather than a superior (know-it-all) voice tone.  Only the strong seem to be able to admit their weaknesses, and I’ve seen you bench 350.  Now do it emotionally. Bixby smiles on those that do. For more on this issue read this.

For families, too?

What’s that you say? Your kids blame you for everything? Maybe, it’s time to do some re-framing and see situations differently than you have in the past.  

Imagine a family environment (or office climate) where members focus on solving problems (rather than blaming), assume good will from others (rather than taking things personally), and consider the views of others (rather than always having to be right).  Bart, it’s time to let the sun shine in...and keep living.

No comments:

Post a Comment