Self-Defeating Habits of Otherwise Brilliant People: Part Two

Here is part two of last weeks webinar on 'Self-Defeating Habits of Otherwise Brilliant People'. For a refresher, here is a link to part one.

4. That's how factions form

That's how factions form. We begin to attack the people. If we can instead of attacking the person be realistic and invite that person we are venting to to be a sounding board and problem solver with us. It sounds much different. I had a challenge with Jack this morning in a meeting and he questioned my data, and I found that really frustrating and part of it was really embarrassing because I had made an error. Do you suppose Jack would be willing to talk to me about this issue? And the other person can say, “oh yeah I think he probably would be”. It invites more of a conversation as opposed to more of a ‘Jack is clueless, Jill is pushy’. Keep in mind, factions in organizations are fluid and typically everyone except that leader, in this case the CEO, belongs to more than one faction. 

5. Negative statements leak between factions

As factions form, negative statements leak between groups. In other words, gossip happens. We talk about the leader of the group and we talk about the group. People, generally speaking, can’t wait to share the information. Now in this day and age of tweeting and texting and all kinds of other technology, about how long do you think it takes for that information to get back to either Jill or Jack? About two seconds in all reality. As a matter of fact there was a group that we did some work with that the VP of sales actually threw an estimator under the proverbial bus at the national sales meeting. 

She stood up and said, this person is the biggest block to our success as a sales team. That information, even though they were at a secluded resort, was back to that person in a matter of a few minutes, thanks to technology. And the sad fact is that Jack and Jill both feel betrayed by one another. Remember they are avoiding each other, so they may be being polite. They are not sharing information so them hearing this through the grapevine can be devastating

6. Mistrust spreads to their groups

It allows mistrust to spread and at this point Jack and Jilll have lost control. The conflict spreads and takes on a life of its own. And therefore, either one or both go to this CEO, who doesn't belong to a faction and ask for a resolution. You have to do something, this situation is out of control. 

7. Elevate

Well it’s unfortunate this person has to make a decision they are both valuable individuals to the company and he or she is wondering, can't you just get along. Do we have to have victims and bullies...why is this happening. 

8. Terminate

When they are not able to resolve the issues, somebody has got to go. And we are just going to pretend in this case, it is Jack. It is a difficult decision, but one that is made often in organizations. So the thinking is great, it is over, we can all relax, right? 

9. From afar and in a bar

What we know is there is a stage 9, and we call it from afar and in a bar. Now it may not be in a bar, but it is off the work site, because Jack is no longer an employee there and he is continuing to fight the battle. What does Jack want? He wants to see Jill’s demise. She was the cause of his problems, so he is looking for reinforcements and he is going back and listening to see what is going on in the organization. 

Cost of Mistrust

You know this can be very costly, if you have been in any kind of experience where this has happened. Our friends at Gallup say it costs 34 cents every payroll dollar, an expensive proposition. What we know is we can predict these destructive forms of disagreements and we can also reverse it, that’s the good news. 

What determines where we end up on this continuum?

How does it determine where we end up on this continuum? Where do groups find that they are one end of the continuum or the other? As we talked in the first place it doesn't really matter if it is a government or a school or a business. Is it the fact that one place has money and the other doesn't? No, it’s the individual and collective response to disagreement and frustration.

30 Frustrations a day

Doctor Stroebel found that all of us face about 30 frustrations a day. Frustrations may take different forms; you might call it a disagreement or disappointment or find offense to something. All of those things happen to us and they are out of our control; what is within our control is our emotion and behavior. And this is what makes the difference, it is the assumption of being focused on personality or focused on the problem. So we are going to talk through this example. 

Let’s talk about blaming others, the assumption is, “I am suffering because of their stupidity” and what do we do? The emotion is we are inflaming. And hopefully this person has never waited on you or worked for you, or been this person. But when you are in this stage of inflammatory thinking, it is all about that other individual. It is all their fault and they can't change.

So the emotions become hostile, indigent, and we flood with anger. And we avoid, or we attack that person's reputation. Now sometimes we blame ourselves, the assumption is this is another thing that I have screwed up. i am such a loser. So the emotion becomes depression, hopelessness and the behavior is I give or withdrawal. 

Here is an example, let's pretend sales are down, reflexive thinking is well let’s blame marketing. They are good ones to pick on because they are lazy and they don't do their jobs. I become angry and I pick a fight and walk out of the meeting. Later on I think I was so dumb to take this job. And I get depressed and I withdraw. Remember after anger comes depression. 

But if we begin to look for the reasons and are reflective and identify that there is something going on. We can become calm, curious, and concerned instead and we start searching for solutions and open the dialogue. 

I want you to imagine that you are in your car on a two lane road. There is one lane of traffic going your way and one lane going the other way. And you’re stopped at a traffic light. and the car in front of you is a little bit older, a little bit rusty. When the light turns green, instead of moving forward they put their car in park, get out of their car, open the door to the back seat, reach in and start monkeying around with something you can't see. They are not moving forward and are holding traffic in your lane up.

Now I want you to put yourself in that situation, you can't go around them, there is opposing traffic. So you are stuck waiting until they finish doing whatever it is they are doing before they can move forward. Now there is typically three responses.

  1. Blame Others
  2. Blame Self
  3. Reason

We will pretend this is a female driver and it is all her fault or maybe it is my fault before we look for the reason. What of if instead of blaming her, we looked for the reason? Now this comes from a true story, and it was written up in a small town newspaper in Minneapolis area. The driver of the car was a mother of a toddler. Her baby in the back seat was choking. So what is any parent going to do? They are going to take care of that child, they are not going to let that child choke to death. They are going to take care of that child and not worry about who is behind them.

So I want you to keep in mind that when we are reflective, we are looking at that constraint or pressure hidden from view as opposed to what we call this stinky twins. BO or BS, blame others or blame self. So one mantra I want you to adopt is to look for the BIBs, the ‘baby in the backseat’. When something has gone awry, I need to look for the reason. 

So if we go back to those nine steps or conflict that we put jack and Jill through, let’s think about this. If jack is able at the very beginning to look for that reason, there is a greater likelihood (as a matter of fact a 97% likelihood) that the situation can be resolved right then and there and it won’t go any further. The group won't split up into factions, the anger and mistrust won't build. And Jack won't eventually lose his job. 

So the difference between the person screaming or swearing or going forward for help is simply an unconscious assumption. And we know that assumptions are the gateway to our behavior, experience, and our legacy. So if we all face 30 frustrations and day, that is about 10,000 a year. Think about everyone you interact with? All of your colleagues, all or your customers, all your family members, we all got this going on. And the difference is going to be how we view what is going on. So its not the people, it is our first assumption or our inflammatory thinking. It is sweating, it is factions, it is fear. 

Part three will be posted on Thursday!