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"She Made Me Mad"

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"She made me mad!" Ever said that? Of course you have. We all have. As if she -- whoever SHE is -- crawled inside our heads, flipped a bunch of levers, and cranked up the dial labeled, "anger."

Others don't make us mad. Or happy. Or anxious. WE pull our own levers and turn our own dials.

In fact, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we all face -- whether as leaders at work or in our personal lives -- is our propensity to believe we know exactly what's going on around us. What we see is what everyone else must be seeing, right? So, our truth is also their truth -- and our emotions must match their emotions, right? No so.

Put 50 people in a room. Stage an incident. You'll get 50 different stories about exactly what happened there. More importantly, you'll get a plethora of different emotions, based on what the various stories are about. Scary stories might create the emotion "fear." Funny stories might create "joy." Et cetera.

Remember Shakespeare's admonition, "Nothing in this world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so."


With apologies to Shakespeare, "Nothing in this world is good or bad, but 'storytelling' makes it so." If you want to change your feelings, (bad feelings like anger, frustration and sadness or good feelings like delight, happiness or curiosity) examine the story you're telling yourself.

Stories are assumptions. Remember the old adage you learned somewhere along the way: "If you assume, you make an "ass of  u and me." Storytelling...making assumptions...is especially troublesome when you're in a leadership role. I like Will Roger's thoughts on the subject: "It isn't what we don't know that gets us into trouble; it's what we know that isn't so." If I didn't know better, that concept could make me mad.

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Shirley - anyone who reads this post and recognizes the benefit of "re-thinking" communication should take (or send employees to) your Crucial Conversations training. I was a student of yours and found the training practical, engaging and entertaining.

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