Tag Archives: morale

Same-Sex Marriage Legal In 50 States & How To Open Dialogue About It At Your Firm

States must recognize unions of same-sex couples, the Supreme Court ruled today.

In a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, it was Justice Anthony Kennedy who was considered the pivotal swing vote in the case. In the end, he wrote the majority opinion (via NPR).

The four justices—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito—who voted against the ruling each wrote dissenting opinions.

Keep in mind, before today’s landmark ruling, gay marriage was already legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia by legislative or voter action; or by federal courts that overturned state’ bans (see a chart on NPR.org).

Summarizing our legal process, the courts explained:

“Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes. Questions about the legal treatment of gays and lesbians soon reached the courts, where they could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law.”

In polls, support for same-sex marriage is at an all time high.

Interestingly, about three-quarters (73%) of those who say they personally know a lot of gays and lesbians favor same-sex marriage; whereas a majority (59%) of those who know no gays or lesbians oppose same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research Center.

One of the leading factors in determining support for same-sex marriage (outside religious beliefs) is political alignment. According to the same polls, 65% of Democrats and an identical percentage of independents favor gay marriage. However, only about one third (34%) of Republicans favor it, reports Pew.

Therefore, depending on where your law firm is located, and the political composition of your employees, this might become a point of contention or at least conversation.

Maintaining a positive and supportive culture within your firm is just as important as being prepared for the transition of your workplace and human resources policies given this ruling.

Control workplace gossip and negative opinion, if there is any. While Justice Roberts has the right to speak out in dissent, it’ll likely breed resentment and hostility inside your firm.

Need help? Take C4CM’s audio course “Managing the Most Difficult People at Work: 15 Cornerstones for Handling Constructive Confrontations” to gain tips and tricks for knowing what to say on a potentially divisive subject.

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Fight or Flight? One Small Bird’s Big Lesson On Being A Gracious Loser

In a rare moment of fight and flight, more than 30,000 spectators burst into applause when a lone seagull—knocked out by a stray Cricket ball—regained consciousness from a seemingly early demise.

On Wednesday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers didn’t realize there’d be a third player in the game. Nevertheless, there he was, unexpected competition: a seagull—sunning itself on the field—suddenly got caught in crossfires of batsman Adam Voges’ ball.

But, in an unlikely turn of events, as Melbourne fielder Rob Quiney lifted its lifeless-looking body off the pitch, the bird regained consciousness and ruffled its feathers with a determination to live and (what we can only assume to be) an overpowering love of the game.

Released in Yarra Park, the bird was permanently ejected, but not without first leaving a lasting impression. The seagull saved the home team two runs and cinched their three-wicket victory, reports CNN in “Down but not out: Relief as seagull recovers after being bowled over during TV cricket match.”

In the end, we’ll never know if the visiting Scorchers would have recovered had the bird not.

Crippled by a sports injury, bad day in the financial market, a losing court case, or just plain bad luck, it can be hard to recover after a loss. Law firm professionals, like any other, are victim to bad days.

Accidentally missed a deadline? Deliberately lost out after a poor strategic decision?

Managers are particularly on the hook for team mishaps. More important than the outcome, however, is how you handle the outlook afterward.

1. Analyze the events

Before anything, it’s important to gather information about the loss and investigate how it happened. Collect data. Generate an analysis.

Emotionally, you might have to “let it go,” but as a manager, it’s important to learn from mistakes. This requires an objective analysis of the facts.

2. Objectively separate the good from the bad (Don’t place blame)

Next, distill from the analysis the good outcomes. There are always positives to every negative. Perhaps you lost a court case or motion argued in court. But, at the same time, did you learn something about opposing counsel to be used in your legal arsenal the next time? Write it down, file it away.

What parts of the strategy worked, and why? Recognize what works and what doesn’t so that your firm doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

At the same time, don’t place blame. No win or loss is generated by a single player or event. It’s important in your role as manager to identify the collective good (and bad) as a learning exercise. The blame game is never productive in the long-term and only creates dissent among your ranks and resentment among your employees.

3. Create a recovery plan

So you missed a deadline. Would it have helped to log the event on an online calendar or smartphone? Implement a strategy for incorporating online legal tools in the workplace.

A recovery plan can be anything from providing additional training for employees on a particular skill or software that was previously lacking, to boosting morale.

A key loss can be as devastating on the future motivation of your employees as the bottom line of your firm.

So, as a manager, meet with each of your team members individually to discuss their contribution. Include positives and negatives. Especially in the case of unexpected loss, be sure to show appreciation for everybody’s efforts.

So the Scorchers lost the game and two runs to an ill-fated fowl. At least there was no loss of life: something animal activists—if not sports fans—can be relieved to know.

Lesson learned? Sometimes the only lesson learned is that your team did the best they could given a situation. The fight by Perth’s Scorchers was just no match for the flight of one small seagull.

Need to boost morale? Take C4CM’s audio course, “Toxic Behavior at Work: Strategies to Reduce Dysfunction, Defuse Venom, and Improve Workplace Morale.

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Supervisor Success: Keys to Transitioning from All-Star Player to Hall of Fame Coach

Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini won a lot of games at Nebraska. His record? An honorable 67-27. But, even a win this Friday against Iowa wasn’t enough to save his job.

It’s not easy being supervisor. There’s a big difference between knowing how to play the game and knowing how to coach it.

Bo Pelini knew how to play football. He was free safety for the Buckeyes at Ohio State under College Football Hall of Fame head coaches Earle Bruce and John Cooper from 1987 to 1990. Not only did Pelini start in his last two years, he also served as a team co-captain in his senior year, along with some of football’s finest, Vinnie Clark, Jeff Graham and Greg Frey.

Although hardwork, hustle, and know-how do not necessarily translate to expert coaching, Pelini did have an equally successful career as a National Football League (NFL) scout and coach.

In 1994, Pelini earned his first position in the NFL as a scouting assistant for the San Francisco 49ers head coach George Seifert. Once there, he was quickly promoted to assistant secondary coach, and by the spring of 1994 he was promoted to defensive backs coach (source). In 1995, he helped coach in his first Super Bowl where the 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers 49–26 in Super Bowl XXIX.

But just as sun and snow are polar opposites, the success of Pelini’s program in warm San Diego looked nothing like his experience in wintry Nebraska.

So, now Nebraska is on the market for a new defensive coordinator. Luckily, they are at no loss for choices.

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldmanpredicts a few candidates: One, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, a former Nebraska QB. According to Feldman:

“Frost would fire up a fan base, as he is one of their own (he was even born in Lincoln), while also representing a return to not only the Tom Osborne era of a dominant rushing attack, but it’d be one souped-up thanks to all his time working with Chip Kelly, who is right now the hottest coaching brand in all of football—not just for his offense but for his entire innovative approach to all facets of the game.”

In fact, a few of Feldman’s choices, like Minnesota’s Jerry Kill and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl, come from a climate and style similar to that of Nebraska.

Because when it comes to tricky supervisory transitions, culture and climate play a large role.

Law firm management is just as touchy as coaching football. There are high stakes, you have to manage the players’ egos, and clients can be fair-weather fans.

Bo Pelini serves as a great example for law firm managers of what challenges lay in the wake of a promotion. A newly hired or promoted supervisor must:

  • Make the transition from team player to take-charge leader
  • Improve performance in people who aren’t used to you being the boss
  • Avoid common mistakes and problems that sabotage new supervisors (like being too strict or too lax)
  • Handle even the most difficult employee conversations and situations, even firings

One thing is for sure. Whoever takes Pelini’s place will have a plan preparing for this transition. Whether it’s a meet-and-greet session, strict diet and training regimen, or tough-love approach starting from the first huddle.

Law firm managers should do the same. Decide what kind of attitude is most effective. Be prepared for tough conversations, including talking notes for how to approach them. Set goals for employees and decide how to communicate them.

Finally, it’s important to know how to motivate your team—and it won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Seen from the outside, Pelini’s record is respectable. But, when the going got tough, Pelini’s program didn’t get going. His record is only 9-16 against Top-25 opponents, and—worse still—only 2-8 in his last 10 games against ranked teams.

It’s when pressure was building and the stakes were at their highest that Nebraska folded. And, yes, the boss gets the blame.

It’s tough to be supervisor. So, make a game plan.

Need help? Here’s a start. The Center For Competitive Management’s audio course “New Supervisor Success: Keys to Transitioning from All-Star Player to Hall of Fame Coach.”

During this power-packed event, you will explore the most important aspects of your multi-faceted supervisor role, and learn key techniques and practices to help you better delegate, motivate, plan, and coach employees for success.

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Electric Shock Study Shows We’d Rather Hurt Ourselves Than Others (& How To Apply This Attitude To Pro Bono Work)

Pro Bono. Three words that—in this economy—no lawyer wants to hear.

Or maybe they do?

Pro bono is essentially providing legal services to poor, marginalized, or at-risk individuals, groups, and communities without pay; usually it’s done in order to serve a higher purpose—the provision of justice.

Some say pro bono work is altruistic and therefore difficult to incentivize among attorneys. Economists at Princeton University, however, may disagree with this statement after a recent study.

“Molly Crockett, a psychologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, combined the classic psychological and economics tools for probing altruism: pain and money,” writes John Bohannan for Science magazine

The scientist’s task? To find out who many electric shocks would be dolled out—and to whom—when money was at stake.

The pain given via electrode was deemed “mildly painful, but not intolerable.” And the price tags of each shock varied, from $0.15 to $15.

The randomly chosen “decider” in the trial was given a choice of number of shocks for money, and the shocks were either to the decider, themselves, or to another participant—although the decider always got the money.

Although society would like to believe that people would be willing to give up some sort of gain, financial or intrinsic, to avoid the distress of hurting somebody else, this idea has yet to be supported by previous scientific research, points out Bohannon.

In fact, the opposite result–that people are not altruistic–has been proven time and time again, as far back as the 1960s with Stanley Milgram, whose psychology experiments are some of the best known and widely discussed.

In 1961, Milgram sought to test our obedience to authority figures. He was motivated, in part, by the behavior of Nazi war criminals, many of whom were facing trial at that time, such as the infamous Adolf Eichmann.

Subjects in Milgram’s experiment were instructed to give a series of escalating electric shocks to an unidentified person in another room. The shocks ranged from 15 volts to 450 volts. Although the subjects were separated, they could communicate between the walls. Participants dolling the shocks could hear the (faked) reactions of their counterparts, which included screaming, banging on the wall, and complaints of heart conditions. After a while, the participant would hear nothing on the other side of the wall. Throughout the experiment, the subjects were not threatened or yelled at, rather, they were given stern and consistent instructions not to stop administering the volts.

So did they?

A (no pun intended) shocking 65 percent of the subjects followed orders and administered the final—and seemingly fatal—450-volt electric shock to the person in the next room.

But today, it finally seems possible that altruism—or at least incentivizing it within people—can exist.

In the more recent study, the results show that while participants did not like the pain of receiving a shock (they were willing to make about $0.30 less money per shock on average to receive fewer of them) people were willing to lose twice that amount, $0.60 per shock, to hurt an anonymous other less. The full results can be found online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fifty years later, society can finally sigh in relief knowing that people are more caring and altruistic than they first seemed in Milgram’s portrayal.

For lawyers, however, pro bono work is not actually altruistic. On the contrary, it can provide law firms with many profitable opportunities, among them:

  • Networking opportunities for lawyers
  • Boosting a lawyer’s or firm’s reputation
  • Enhancing team-building among lawyers
  • Boosting staff morale
  • Creating a positive and altruistic corporate culture
  • Fundraising opportunity for a firm working with charities or other endownments
  • Enhancing skills and experience of younger lawyers
  • Providing leadership opportunities for younger lawyers
  • Attracting paying clients through high-profile pro-bono work
  • Attracting young talent to the firm who value an idealistic corporate culture

So, sign up for pro bono work today. Do it for the philanthropy–as the electric shock study shows, we’d rather help others than ourselves. And, of course, do it for the profit-seeking aspects, too. It can’t hurt.

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Famous Movie Quotes To Make You A Better Boss

When you’re having a rough day, it’s fun to imagine how you’d quit your job. In fact, you may even fantasize about using a famous movie quote on your boss after you storm out of the office during one such disgruntled occasion:

  • “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer” –Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
  • “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” –Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in Dirty Harry (1971)
  • “Do you like apples? Well, how do you like them apples?” –Matt Damon as Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • “Hasta la vista, baby.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator in The Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

An alarming fact for managers is that despite high rates of unemployment, people are still quitting their jobs in droves. More than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, which refers to them as “Quits.”

It seems there are a few things employees just won’t tolerate—with or without an economic recession. A recent study by Accenture (via Forbes) reports the following reasons people leave their job, and it may surprise you:

  • Dislike boss (31%)
  • Lack of empowerment (31%)
  • Internal politics (35%)
  • Lack of recognition (43%)

So what can law firm managers learn from this survey? First, leadership is not just commanding, sometimes it’s also camaraderie. Second, employees need to feel empowered. Third, leave gossiping and favoritism at the door. And finally, reward your employees for a job well done when deserved.

Here are four ways to retain your law firm professionals and the movie quotes that will help you remember them:

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” –Strother Martin as The Captain in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

One of the most cited reasons that employees leave their jobs is because they dislike their boss. In a profession like legal services, where positions are extremely hierarchical, it can be easy to fall into ranks. First years get all the dirty work, partners get all the recognition from clients. In order to keep your associates from quitting in a fit of rage (and maybe even starting their own competing firm) be a boss that listens.

Keep tabs on all your associates. Do they seem stressed? Overworked? Do they complain a lot? Make sure your subordinates feel comfortable voicing their concerns or asking questions.

If you feel out of touch, take one or two younger associates to lunch. Ask them about their work satisfaction. Really take note of their responses with two-way communication.

Make an open-door policy. If you need expert advice on handling difficult conversations with your employees, read C4CM’s guide here. If you don’t know how to write formal or informal policies on boss-subordinate communication, or want to know how to create an open-door policy, find guidance for managers here.

If your employees don’t like you as a boss, it likely means you’re failing as one.

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” –Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing (1987)

Another reason employees quit their job is a lack of feeling empowered. Employees will work harder and longer if you give them ownership over their work.

People don’t want to be micromanaged. Associates like coming up with case strategy—even if you don’t take it, make sure all ideas are welcome.

You can also empower employees by giving them trust. Allow flexible schedules. Alan Hall for Forbes comments, “In essence, corporate leadership can still achieve productivity and happily engaged employees by offering them more latitude in how employees accomplish company and personal goals.”

“For example, must every employee’s workday start at 8 and end at 5? Could a working parent start their workday later or accomplish a portion of their workday or workweek from home?”

Also, don’t assume that an associate isn’t working just because they’re not at their desk. Give associates a task, a deadline, and trust them to complete it. If you’re stopping by a subordinate’s office too often, you’re stopping them from doing their job efficiently and from achieving their full potential.

For more advice on how to transform your firm into a flexible workplace, take C4CM’s online course here.

“This isn’t personal, Kay. This is business.” –Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

Office politics (like regular politics!) are the worst. Nobody likes to tip-toe around an issue because a certain team member can’t be criticized. Nobody wants to join a team where certain people are favored over others. Office politics are disheartening and counterproductive. Lead by example. Don’t gossip in the workplace and do encourage people to voice their opinion, even if it’s dissenting.

Having a hard time tempering toxic talk? Learn about minimizing office politics and gossip with C4CM’s course here. Also, take the smart woman’s guide to office polics here.

“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody.” –Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954)

Finally, employees quit because of a lack of recognition for their hard work. No, not every job well done needs a pat on the back or year-end bonus. But, it can be easy for managers to focus on mistakes rather than to reward achievements.

Law firms work as a team, from the receptionist who greets the client to the paralegal conducting docket research to the associate on doc-review. Some of these employees may not have been a part of the flashiest and most recognizable parts of the case—they may even have been absent from the courtroom or off the official record—but their commitment and work is real. It deserves recognition.

Write letters of thanks to your employees after a big project. A simple, handwritten letter goes a long way in recognizing somebody’s effort in a very personal way. Law firm managers and leaders, in general, hold a lot of responsibility. Wield it wisely, widely, and graciously.

Still uncertain about what your employees need? Become a better listener and better leader by attending C4CM’s audio course on improving employee engagement and enhancing your influence here.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much these days for an employee to reach his or her breaking point. Boosting morale may be a manager’s most important task of the day. Otherwise your best talent may be Gone With The Wind, mimicking Clark Gable as Rhett Butler when they say to you at their wit’s end: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

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Healthy Workplaces: Would Your Law Firm Pass A Stress Test?

Yesterday, the Federal Reserved told JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs that they didn’t survive their “stress test”.

In an attempt to perform due diligence on the ability of our country’s largest 18 banks to cope with a severe economic recession, the Fed ran some tests. And, after the blood work came back, the Fed told each bank whether or not it was allowed to raise its dividend, how much it could give its stockholders in a quarterly payout, or if it could buy back more of its own shares, reports The News Tribune.

Basically, the Fed told these two top-tier banks to shape up by September, or ship out.

But, banks aren’t the only ones to worry about their health these days.

Lawyers are stressed. There’s no need to run any treadmill tests to know that law firm employees are plagued with high billable hours, high-stakes, and high stress.

Not surprisingly, emotional exhaustion has been linked with lawyer burnout.

In a study of public service lawyers, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of low personal accomplishment were qll highly correlated with lawyer burnout, according to authors Susan Jackson, Jon Turner, and Arthur Brief for the article “Correlates of burnout among public service lawyers” in the Journal of Organizational Behavior,

Many would argue that the long hours of lawyers—much like investment banks—are to blame.

Surprisingly, however, another study found that work hours and stress were not highly correlated among lawyers. In fact, although feelings that legal work was invading nonwork life were prevalent among attorneys, this feeling was not shown to be associated with the number of hours worked.

Jean Wallace in the article “It’s about Time: A Study of Hours Worked and Work Spillover among Law Firm Lawyers” for the Journal of Vocational Behavior (1997) believes that while work hours may not be to blame for feeling overwhelmed, it’s still important to find the cause.

It’s easy to imagine that stress is more likely a result of household composition (young children) or workplace conflict, more so than pure length of office hours.

Nevertheless, stress plays a role in our attitude at home and at work. And, it impacts how individuals interact.

A new study shows that stressed men, in particular, have diminished activity in the area of the brain responsible for sympathizing or understanding others’ feelings, reports Rick Nauert, PhD, for PsychCentral

Thus, stress doesn’t just affect the person in question feeling that emotion, but also his colleagues in proximity.

As a law firm manager, what can you do to alleviate workplace stress?

1. Provide professional stress management services.

Whether it’s better healthcare coverage for counseling or stress-management classes, provide professional services for your employees. Make sure these services are not stigmatized and ensure they remain confidential.

2. Be a positive force in the office

Stress is an overwhelming emotion. But, it’s also a contagious one. If you’re feeling stressed, take a moment out of the office or, at least, close your office door. Take some privacy so that the feeling passes as opposed to spreads.

Attitudes are contagious. Do your part to stifle negativity and reinforce positivity.

3. Exercise

There are a myriad of benefits to exercise. Besides a healthy heart, exercise boosts healthy attitudes and is a stress suppressant. Encourage employees to go to the gym by offering “exercise hour” at lunch, discounts to local gyms, or installing a workout room in the office building.

Conduct “bike to work” days and organize sports teams for both men and women at work.

A little bit of running can go a long way to running a happy office place.

4. Be tolerant

It goes without saying that professionals should never yell or snap at fellow employees. As a manager, if it happens, don’t hesitate to discipline your subordinates.

At the same time, be observant. Is a particular employee acting out? Have you noticed there’s a law firm professional that nobody wants to work with? It’s possible that one of your employees is particularly stressed.

If so, find out why. Whether it’s personal or professional, problems are more easily addressed by two people than by one.

Lead by example—that includes being compassionate and tolerant of others. So, find out who is suffering from stress and offer a helping hand. Stress turns into an epidemic. Left untreated and untested, you may find your workplace productivity—in addition to morale—left for dead.

-WB

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Does Your Law Firm Have A Case Of The Blues?

Almost exactly six months ago, Dewey & LeBoeuf earned a place in the nightly news after a mass exodus of its law firm partners provoked media attention.

According to a Dewey spokesperson, the firm earned a mere $250 million in 2011—substantially less than their reported earnings in the (already circulated) publication, American Lawyer. Not only did outside sources seek an explanation, but insiders also looked to place blame.

Bloomberg calls it “Law Firms’ White-Shoe Blues,” where corporate mismanagement and outdated business practices are to blame. While the author is waiting for the other white-shoe to drop for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and Sullivan & Cromwell, it’s important to address a second key issue of mismanagement: morale.

The financial crisis is just one of the reasons law firms fail today.

Why else? Inefficiencies in hourly wage, partnership practices, and lack of modernization.

However, a more normative assessment of law firms would likely include negative attitudes, internal conflict, even associate despair.

In sum, law firms have a case of the blues.

In 2007, a survey found only four of 10 lawyers would recommend the career. And, lawyers are notorious for having high rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

Not all law firms, of course, are dominated by desolation. But, all firms are, at least, prone to minor negativity—complaints about long hours, difficult colleagues, or hard-to-handle cases.

So, how can law firm managers dispel bouts of negativity?

For Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done and contributor to the Harvard Business Review Blog, there are three simple steps:

1. Understand how they feel and validate it. It’s natural to complain. There’s a reason for the phrase, “misery loves company.”

It’s equally possible, however, that the phrase could be, “misery loves aggression and argumentative retorts,” if it (quite accurately) reflected the real-world reaction of managers.

When faced with complaints in the workplace, it’s easy to respond in the opposite—with positivity For example, “Yes, the hours are tiring and long, but we’re well compensated for it,” or “No, I don’t think this task is unfair.”

For leaders, it seems especially important to refute and rebut negative comments.

But the opposite, in fact, is true. Employees who complain want commiseration and validation for their point of view. That’s step one in neutralizing negativity: understand how others feel, and validate it.

2. Find a place to agree with them. Next, even if you don’t agree with the entirety of the complaint at hand, at least try to find an aspect of the comment with which you can relate.

As soon as a second person justifies and validates a complaint, the negative Nancy will also feel a sense of solidarity with her colleague. Sharing and communication is what forms the foundation of a cooperative team.

And, as backward as it may seem to leaders, solidarity (whether negative or positive) can actually bring about positive outcomes. The last step shows you how.

3. Find out what they are positive about and reinforce it. After commiserating with Mr. Scrooge, Esquire, try to find a point that he is positive about.

“This doesn’t mean trying to convince them to be positive. It means giving attention to whatever positive feelings they do show—and chances are they will have shown some because it’s unusual to find people who are purely negative,” writes Bregman.

Seize any opportunity to praise positivity, even when it’s minor. After ten complaints, was there just one productive comment? Reward it! Did employees hate, for instance, all the long hours of last night’s casework, but loved the free delivery dinner? Invite the company to cater again (and quickly).

Don’t underestimate the reinforcement of good and reasonable comments, or the importance of downplaying the more emotional ones.

Eventually, the attention you give positivity will eliminate the norm of negativity around the office.

“The truth is, it’s often easier to teach this stuff than it is to do it. In the heat of the moment, I can still get frustrated with other people’s frustrations,” admits Bregman.

“But following these three steps has helped tremendously. And having a partner who reminds me of them? That helps even more.”

So, next time your officemate is about to send a rash email, say something he might regret, or grovel in his general grouchiness, remind him to take three deep breaths (and follow these three steps).

-WB

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