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A gift of Joy

Today is National Give Something Away Day. Those that don't know me well might not realize that I am a giver. I love to create something and give it to someone I care about. This comes in many forms. Often, it's food, (don't worry this is not a life story/recipe post), a knitted gift like a hat or sweater, or in the case of my business, it's education and skills.

On National Give Something Away Day, I want to give you the gift of Joy at work (and home and everywhere in between) with a look at the concept of Outward Mindset from The Arbinger Institute. My last post mentioned their book as a great resource, and it is an excellent starting point for someone struggling with any number of relational issues because it focuses on YOU.

Let's pause for a moment and think about the last challenging conversation you had. We'll focus on work right now, but these concepts work anywhere. Perhaps you attempted to give someone at work some feedback and they didn't want to hear it, or perhaps you have a rocky relationship with someone in your office and your last conversation did NOT go well. Relive that conversation in your mind.

Instead of focusing on what the conversation was about, focus on what you felt just before the conversation began. What emotions were in your mind and heart? Here are some examples of emotions that were likely playing out, fear, anger, excitement (if they just do what I say...), disapproval, superiority, anxiety.

Next think about what outcomes you wanted to take place? These are often expectations we have of the other person. They will complete a task or achieve a goal or do what we need done in some way.

Reflecting, what emotions did you hold and what was your objective? For some it may be, "I was angry because they did not complete (insert task) on time even though they knew it was important to do so and I wanted to make sure it gets done immediately." In this scenario, you went into this conversation with an angry heart and mind and expected work to be done, without regard for the person you were talking to. Not to point fingers, but OF COURSE it went poorly!

Let's see how we can flip this around to be more outward.

1. Don't act when you're emotionally charged. This seems simple, but when work isn't completed on time, especially if someone knew how important it was, it's natural to feel angry! It's also ok to feel angry. What's not ok is turning that anger into a weapon upon someone else. Take time to calm yourself and refocus your intentions from releasing your anger to how you can help the situation.

2. View the person as a PERSON not an object. A major aspect of Outward Mindset is switching from viewing a person as a means to an end or outcome to viewing them as a person with desires and challenges of their own. One way I like to do this is to ask myself, why might this have happened? Is this a pattern of behavior or simply a one-time issue? How can I help remove an obstacle that might be getting in the way of this person completing their work on time?

3. Don't avoid the conversation. Once you begin to reflect on them as a person you might be inclined to give them a pass. "It's only a one-time thing, they won't do it again, right?" Wrong. Avoiding accountability is the slipperiest slope in leadership (more on this in another post). Ultimately this individual did not deliver their work on time and that's not ok. However, we must uncover the reason for this in order to help them for the future. Your role as a leader is to help them ensure that this won't happen again.

So have the conversation but do it when you're not emotionally settled and be curious. See them as a person, ask questions to understand the root cause (more on this later) and create a plan to ensure that they can be successful moving forward. Instead of focusing on what "went wrong" you're focusing on helping it go right next time which makes all the difference.

In our scenario above, perhaps their child has been sick and they've needed to pick them up early from school multiple times this week. This caused them to miss their deadline. Approving work from home when they have a sick kiddo could help, or create an environment where they feel it's ok to tell you what's going on and ask for help. Maybe there's another team member who can help or work accommodation that could ensure they are able to be successful as a parent and an employee.

No one likes to be held accountable, it's hard to hear you didn't meet expectations. I can tell you from experience that how the person delivering the feedback handles the conversation makes all the difference and when done with an outward mindset, growth happens quickly and the relationship thrives. Accountability is critical and it has to be done with care for individual. It takes practice, and wont' happen perfectly the first time, but your efforts will have a very positive impact on your business and relationships.

That's your leadership joy for today, hopefully I've given you something to use and learn from. For more on outward mindset, go to and check out their books. If you are interested in workshops or coaching from Performance Consulting Services, request your free session below.

How many of us have experienced a conversation that did NOT go as planned?

  • Yes! I hate these...

  • Nope, I'm perfect.

  • Yes and I'm working on getting better at them.

I am not affiliated in any way with The Arbinger Institute and am not being paid for advertisement.

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