What are the three worst emotions in business? Disagreement, Disappointment, and demotivation. These are all on the “misfit’s wheel of misery.” This is the second in a four-part series about how to reset work, and avoid the wheel of misery.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Three Worst Emotions in Business: Part 2 of 4
Karla Nelson: And welcome to the People Catalyst Podcast Allen Fahden.
Allen Fahden: Hello Karla.
Karla Nelson: Hello Mister, how are you today?
Allen Fahden: I’m in a podcasting mood.
Karla Nelson: Woo-hoo, it’s always a good time for a podcast.
Allen Fahden: Yeah, it sure is. How are you doing?
Karla Nelson: I’m doing fantastic. I’m really excited about this podcast, and we are gonna put a lot into a short period of time. So hold onto your seat belts for sure, this is part two of a four part series about the three worst emotions in business. And in part one we talked about the misfit’s wheel of misery, where we’re breaking down disagreement, disappointment, and de-motivation that happens when we are trying to get something done, innovate, everyone knows that meeting, the three hour meeting that goes for forever and nothing happens at the end of it.
A lot of things in regards to disagreement, disagreement, as we said in the previous podcast is going to happen. It’s just what are you doing in the midst of the disagreement so that you can get to agreement?
Allen Fahden: Absolutely. And think about the pain, this is conflict, and conflict leads to negative emotions, and then that leads to gridlock, it leads to office politics. So meetings can often cause a lot more damage than any [inaudible 00:01:55].
Karla Nelson: It’s kind of true actually now … I never thought of it that way, but you’re right. It actually creates the opportunity for all those frustrating situations. So what we’re gonna talk about, we’re gonna use a true story, a true story that we call ’37 to 36′, and we’ll get into why we call it ’37 to 36′ a little bit later, to create a context around how disagreements create these big challenges. So we were hired by a gentleman, Steve, at a large healthcare company just to audit their innovation process. So we were sitting there, we weren’t facilitating anything, we were just sitting and observing this meeting that was supposed to be about innovation.
Allen Fahden: Yeah. And the first thing we saw, and you can all relate to this, the effect of the subject matter specialists, or what we call the opinionists.
Karla Nelson: Good word.
Allen Fahden: The people who’ve studied everything in great detail, and they immediately respond that that won’t work, and here’s why. So you’re starting right off killing ideas. It doesn’t have to be this painful. The person is often a prover, and that’s because they study the status quo in a great deal of detail. So they come in really armed to say what’s gonna go wrong, but often times wind up defeating ideas and stopping the whole meeting.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. The next thing, gosh, you just … I totally get the opinionist piece. Geez Louise, let’s hire somebody, pay them a whole bunch of money, when all the answers are already in the room. You just have to put people in the right order. And the next thing we observed is posturing, everybody I’m sure has observed this in a meeting too, where people talk just to talk. Where either they wanna look like they’re the smartest person in the room, or they’re working the hardest, or they just like listening to themselves. It’s not that there’s an objective, it’s literally talking to talk. And then they overwhelm the meeting with too much that’s not getting anywhere. Or they even come in between when somebody has an idea, and then their interjection stifles any movement forward. And then everybody just kinda sits in the back of their chairs ’cause they’re like, “Bill’s at it again.”
Allen Fahden: Yeah, and it’s just like the minute there’s an idea on the table, that’s usually when it comes up. That’s like bait.
Karla Nelson: It’s like bait.
Allen Fahden: And if you’ve ever beet skeet shooting, it’s a great metaphor for an idea meeting. You know, when you’re skeet shooting you yell “pull” and somebody releases this clay pigeon, and then you go “bang”, so you hear, “Pull, bang, pull, bang.” Well in a meeting, it’s idea, objection, idea, objection.
Karla Nelson: And hence the reason, now you can explain to the listeners why we called the meeting the 37 to 36, because that literally was the whole report.
Allen Fahden: The whole report, because what happened is that well there were 37 “pulls”, ideas launched, and 36 of them were shot down. The meeting ended on what you would think would be a positive note in the sense that well, everybody kind of came to a consensus that oh yeah, we’ll go with idea number 37. Well you can imagine after that blood bath of shooting down all those ideas how good of an idea number 37 was. People have done it a million times before, it wasn’t innovation, it was just really get us out of this room as fast as you can.
Karla Nelson: Exactly. And how often do we see that happen? Everyone gets tired, so they just have to leave the room so you have to have an idea. Now hence, not even knowing that they actually implemented the idea too, ’cause I’ll take a mediocre idea any day if it actually gets implemented. But when everyone doesn’t have a part of a process and they don’t have their thumb print on it, what happens is you didn’t get buy in. So even if you walk out with the idea, if you don’t get buy in rom everybody in agreement it’s like okay, great. We just wasted two hours of our life.
And another thing that we observed in this meeting was there were several individuals who would say, “You know, I don’t really get that.” And then someone else says, “Hey, I think what Bill was trying to say is …” And then another person jumps in and says, “You know, I think what Fred is actually trying to say about what Bill said is …” And somebody else just comes up with a completely different idea. So it’s just mass chaos, right? So it’s not even idea, bang, idea, bang all the time. It’s somebody building on another idea, and then it’s bang still, and then still another idea, another pull. So it gets very wordy, it gets very time consuming, and nothing’s getting done.
So with that, go ahead, did you have something to add?
Allen Fahden: I was just gonna say, and guess what? This causes emotions to happen.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. So there’s a lot of emotions going on in this room, and we’re gonna talk about five of the emotions of disagreement. So when disagreement happens, these emotions were happening right in front of us as the meeting are happening. But guess what? Nobody ever talks about the emotions, they just keep on dredging forward. And we’re gonna break it down. So Allen, I’ll identify the emotion, and then you can identify what was happening in the meeting that was creating these emotions for the team.
So the first thing we observed was people getting angry.
Allen Fahden: Yep. And usually that comes from a comment like, “Well that idea’s not gonna work.” So what happens is everybody starts defending, and you can just feel the anger in the room sometimes. Somebody’s face gets a little red, and they start defending themselves, it derails all the energy that you had, and it turns around into anger.
Karla Nelson: You got it. And one of the biggest things that we’ve experienced, and this isn’t in the context of the 37 to 36, but another client we worked with, a big military contractor. And they had some really bad news for their team, and they went in, and instead of just giving them the news they create serious anger in less than 30 seconds. We taught the process for two hours, then they got to solve their own problem for two hours, but they went through all of the same things leadership did. And guess what? Came up with the same idea. The difference is, they came up with it, and it took four hours. But nobody got to be angry because they were the ones who solved the problems, right? Too bad they probably still aren’t using the process moving forward. I don’t know why people love the asprin more than the vitamin, but it’s just the way life is sometimes.
Another emotion that people experienced in this room was fear. And I would even say one or two people were experiencing panic in one way, or … Because they were experiencing more than others, right?
Allen Fahden: Yeah, it’s like the list of fears, you’ve probably seen it where death is only number seven. And the first one is public speaking. Well right up there with public speaking, ’cause it’s very much the same thing, is telling your idea to somebody, especially if you tell your idea to a bunch of people. That makes you vulnerable, that makes you think oh my gosh, am I gonna get beat up for this idea? Are they gonna think I’m stupid? Are they gonna think maybe I’ll get marginalized, maybe they won’t like me anymore, maybe I’ll lose my job, maybe I’ll be in the next layoff, and then nobody will hire me, ’cause I won’t get a good reference, and then I won’t be able to have any money, and won’t be able to buy food, and I’ll starve, and then I’ll die.
Karla Nelson: Yeah, and think about that. Just from sharing what you think your idea is, right?
Allen Fahden: Yeah. So everything I just said happens in about a half of a second too.
Karla Nelson: Yeah.
Allen Fahden: It’s like gosh, I’m wondering why I’m feeling crazy. Well, that’s what’s underneath.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. And another one, and I think this was probably the most pronounced emotion in the room, the emotion that disagreement causes is frustration, right?
Allen Fahden: Oh yeah, that’s a mover emotion, Karla. So you would be-
Karla Nelson: Yeah, I know that one.
Allen Fahden: Let me at least quote you, “Well, nothing’s gonna come out of this meeting.”
Karla Nelson: Oh man I can’t stand meetings like that. And one of the things with being a mover too, and everybody has that level of frustration it’s just different for each, and we’ll get into the mover, shaker, prover, maker in some of the as we call push your buttons kind of situation. But in being a mover, you’re taking your point guard and sticking them on the sidelines. Because if nothing’s gonna come of it, and you’re just wasting their time, it’s so frustrating. I would even say over time it’s gonna lead to anger. You might be frustrated in the meeting, but it’s like you’re wasting my time. And I think there’s different levels of frustration for each of the core natures of work.
However, man being a mover, that’s really frustrating for me. I feel marginalized, I feel like you don’t value my time or my skill or anything. And then if you take the control of the meeting everyone goes, “Oh, you always have to be in charge.” No, I just need to have something happen. Why be here if it’s not.
Allen Fahden: That’s a big lead to disengagement too.
Karla Nelson: Ugh, yeah.
Allen Fahden: Resignation is kinda like when somebody’s resigned to good things not happening, then that’s when they’ve got an attitude going on.
Karla Nelson: You got it. And then the next emotion of the disagreement and gridlock that we saw in this meeting was indignation. That’s when it gets a little higher on the level of almost anger, but the other side of anger.
Allen Fahden: Yeah, and that’s when you say an idea won’t work, and someone quote unquote knows, at least in their mind that there’s a pitfall to look at, it starts all kinds of other emotions that make people inappropriate, make people bad and wrong, and it’s like, “Well how dare you?”
Karla Nelson: And this is the way the meeting ended, was the emotion of guilt and shame when they picked a mediocre idea. Right? Because who said what at the end of the meeting?
Allen Fahden: Yeah, and somebody said, “Oh that idea? We did that last year.” And then somebody else said, “Well, and you couldn’t make it work. Why would we do it again?”
Karla Nelson: Oh my gosh, this actually happened not too long ago with a client we were working with. And the entire team worked for one hour to create their marketing plan, and that’s exactly what the leadership said, “Hey, that’s the idea we picked last year.” And I kind of stood up after working for a whole hour getting an insane amount of work done and I said, “Yeah, but did you implement it? No.” Of course that person was a prover, so they were sitting there going, “Oh well that’s what we chose last year.” It’s like well, you could choose the best idea but if you don’t do it, you don’t do it. Right? You still gotta get to the point of implementation.
So what we’re gonna talk about now after these emotions here of anger, fear and panic, frustration, indignation, guilt, shame, is that how can we look at a mover, shaker, prover, maker, and what are the buttons that somebody is pushing of disagreement for each? Because everyone responds differently, and has different triggers in the context of a meeting. So Allen, since you’re the shaker, you can go ahead and [inaudible 00:14:01] that one first.
Allen Fahden: Oh yeah. The sign of doom when somebody says, “Oh, that’s not gonna work.”
Karla Nelson: You can just see it on a shaker’s face too when you say that.
Allen Fahden: Yeah. Or, “Oh, that’s all wrong. That’s all wrong.” It’s like oh my God. And here’s the shaker, a shaker’s come from is you don’t like my idea, you don’t like me. There’s some big emotions that go down after hearing it’s not gonna work or it’s all wrong.
Karla Nelson: Yep. And then the push button for a mover is, oh I love this one, this one frustrates me, ’cause you have to pick something, right? And you’ve gotta start working with it. “Who picked this idea?”
Because the thing with a mover is, is that you have to start somewhere. And after running through the process you could shift that idea completely after going through the objections and new ideas associated with it. But you have to start somewhere to start churning, versus the bang, bang, idea, bang, idea, bang, objection. ‘Cause that’s just madness, and it’s spinning. So you have to pick an idea.
Another challenge that we run into with movers in their response is … And I think we talked about it earlier Allen, is they resign if there’s not a movement forward. So a lot of times that’s why if you see somebody in the room that typically takes control of the room, they look at it as leadership. Well if they’re not allowed to do that, there’s a huge amount of frustration that happens if they have to just sit there for an entire hour. And that they have the idea, bang, idea, objection, idea, because that’s madness to a mover. It’s just madness.
Allen Fahden: Absolutely.
So the prover, different set of buttons. When a prover gets their buttons pushed it’s really driven, when they make a comment it’s driven by the thought that hey, I see what’s gonna go wrong, I better warn everybody, otherwise I’m not doing my job. So there are great motivations here, but often times people will misinterpret these emotions and call the prover doctor doom.
Karla Nelson: Or Eeyore.
Allen Fahden: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: Pessimist. “You’re such a pessimist.”
Allen Fahden: Or, “Is your glass always half empty?” “Oh, there’s a black cloud over there, is there?” Or sometimes they’ll even say, “Well you raised the problem, why don’t you solve it?”
Karla Nelson: Yeah.
Allen Fahden: What a prover really loves is just the ability to have people accept the warnings that they give, because they’re very important warnings. But that doesn’t happen.
Karla Nelson: One of my favorite ah-has from a facilitating group of CEOs, I literally just looked on accident the other day I just happened to go through some old notes, was the ah-ha, provers aren’t so bad after all.
Allen Fahden: That’s right.
Karla Nelson: We’ve got that different context, but I read it and I just started laughing, I’m like yeah. So we often focus on what-
Allen Fahden: Anytime that a prover has come up and said, “Thank you.” And I’d say, “Well for what?” “For allowing me to come up with objections and not have anybody shoot at me for that. And then also not having me have to fix it. I can just come up with the objections and leave.” and oh, that was so good.
Karla Nelson: Yeah, that’s what many times over again. But I love that, “Provers aren’t so bad after all.” You gotta feel bad for the provers sometimes, they’re just unsung heroes until you allow them to work in their strengths.
So the last is the maker. So the maker, remember, is a later adopter that is a doer, that does not mind routine. So often people look at them and go, “Oh gosh, just such a stick in the mud.” Or they just literally don’t wanna be in that meeting because innovation hurts them, right? It’s challenging. They hear all this stuff and they’re thinking about all the checklists that they’re gonna have to do in order to make this stuff happen, or they’ve disengaged because they know that this meeting is like every other meeting where nothing’s gonna happen, and they need to go back to their desk and do some real work.
And one of the other things that you hear said to makers is … And I hate to say this, but many years ago I was guilty of this … Is, “How come you never have anything to contribute?”
Allen Fahden: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: That’s a nice thing to … And it really was out of innocence. It wasn’t a negative comment, it was just I was curious. I was like how can you go into a meeting, and then not have something to say? It just was, I was completely curious about it. And now obviously with makers, they don’t wanna be in the meeting. Don’t make them have to be in the meeting, right? Because they’re gonna be more effective at their desk, and they’re not gonna also have all those ideas associated with being a later adopter, that it’s messing with their surroundings. “We just cleaned this place up,” right? “You guys are gonna make a mess of it again.”
Allen Fahden: Yeah. And when they’re outside the meeting their whole lives are contributions. So that’s …
Karla Nelson: That’s so true, isn’t that funny? Oh my gosh, that’s so true. They’re the ones who do the replication over and over again. Right? So they’re always contributing, they just in the meeting, that’s not the place for the maker.
Allen Fahden: So having gone through these, there’s even something more powerful and more subtle than the words. Albert Mehrabian did research on this and he found that only 7% of what’s received in the communication is content, 38% is tone of voice, and 55%, and some people estimate up to 70% is visual. What does that mean? You can kill an idea with a look. What’s powerful is the words that aren’t said a lot of times. And you can deflate another person with your body position. Somebody comes up with an idea and you’re immediately folding your arms, or you’re looking away, worse yet, rolling your eyes, or something like that. It’s deflating to people, and again, to just-
Karla Nelson: Yeah, especially that darn eye roll. And you get it all the time, and people don’t even do it on purpose sometimes. It’s the natural response to those negative emotions. So the solution here to defeat the negative emotion of disagreement, right, is not to use the old model, which is critique equals conflict. Right? That’s the old model.
Allen Fahden: Yep, instead critique an idea in a context where you can accept its faults. So that there’s acceptance rather than resistance to the idea. Imagine that nobody could kill an idea, but instead the critique said okay, these are just little nits we’re gonna have to solve to make it work.
Karla Nelson: And the thing is, the current process, everyone’s stepping on each other. So just as we were talking earlier with the skeet shooting, idea, objection, idea, objection, which is madness. And they’re all stepping on each other. Right? The solution is to put people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. And having the facilitator in a process that I always like to say keeps everyone in their lane. Or don’t co-mingle the animals. I mean sometimes literally we have to have each group leave the room simply because the emotions that happen through the ideation process, people are just so … Well they have different core natures of work. So they’re so attached to it that it creates conflict.
Allen Fahden: Yeah. So imagine instead, a model of doing this that holds people in their magnificence instead of their smallness. That automatically accesses what’s right about people and their ideas rather than what’s wrong about people and their ideas.
Karla Nelson: Yeah, that’s just reminds me of the 97% of failure is process failure, but the first thing we do is point the finger at somebody and say it’s people failure, right? I love that, hold them in their magnificence. And the idea here is how do we get everyone rolling in the same direction? So the current model, our natural inputs and outputs don’t equal each other. So what happens, if you could think of a tug of war, you’re just pulling in the opposite directions and you can’t move forward.
Allen Fahden: Yeah. Imagine two people in a row boat facing each other, and they’re both rowing furiously. So their both rowing away from each other, but they’re in one boat. So what happens to the boat? It goes nowhere, or it goes slowly in the direction that the perhaps the strongest person in rowing in. Either way it’s miserable, it’s a waste of energy and it’s what happens with disagreement and conflicting energy.
Karla Nelson: Yes. So we need to eliminate, or no, not eliminate disagreement, ’cause it’s gonna happen. But we need to have a different process when it does happen, so that we can speed up agreement and get 100% buy in from the group. So I know this was a really, really rich podcast, and there was a lot to take in, in 27 short minutes. But this will wrap it up, and visit us next time for part three of the four part series where we are gonna talk about disappointment and how to overcome that in business.
Allen Fahden: And you won’t be disappointed.
Karla Nelson: Awesome. Join us next time. We’ll see you then.
Allen Fahden: Bye bye.