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Politeness as Dishonesty

Politeness softens the edge on our feelings but does so at the cost of cutting a good understanding of where we stand. If doing this purposely, are we dishonest? Early in our marriage, my wife showed me a wallpaper sample for our bedroom. I politely said I didn’t like it. The next day, returning from […]

Danger of Humbleness

Michelle Held (Twitter), an entrepreneur who helps businesses develop corporate pro-social presences and mentors nonprofit start-ups, prompted this post. She requested elaboration on how people misinterpret others not telling the truth as lying after reading, “Why Employees Lie Even When the Truth is Better.” The truth is not necessarily clear. It often varies depending upon […]

More Money, Less Thinking

We can make tremendous money when we help people think less. As Alexander Chernev points out in “Customers Will Pay More for Less” (Harvard Business Review, June 2012 edition), “People rely on decision shortcuts, or heuristics, that trade accuracy for reduced cognitive effort.” Translating to a service economy, thinking is the service and simple solutions […]

The Truth About Authenticity (Pt 2): Dislikeable Authenticity

Most would claim they like authenticity; it’s a form of honesty. Yet, what happens when we run into authenticity we don’t like? The truth is that we are likely to rationalize it as inauthenticity without knowing it. The workplace offers significant stress points that challenge authenticity’s likeability: Personality differences Insecurities from talent differences, altering the […]

Why Problems Occur (Alert #8): Demarcation over Gradient

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Why Problems OccurWe run into problems when we forget that truth is often unclear. We prefer sharp demarcations in defining our problems to the fuzzy gradients that truly exist. While it’s important to define the problem, we extract the real value when we attack those […]

Golfing Analogy: Working with People

People often feel that playing politics in the workplace is something dirty and to be avoided. Well, cleaning house and taking out the garbage is dirty work too, but it’s necessary. Still, it’s hard for some to see this as anything but compromising, “not being who I am.” Yet, as we saw with honesty, euphemisms, […]

Our Personalities: Crashing Others’ Expectations

As computers and robots are able to perform more of the mental and physical tasks of humans, we are finding they can become more unnerving to us. Why is that? “Mapping the Uncanny Valley” (The Economist, July 21, 2012 edition) examines the work of Kurt Gray (University of North Carolina) and Daniel Wegner (Harvard) to […]

Manager – Employee Relationship: “Acid Test” Question

Even though we tend to focus on employees complaining about their managers, they do compliment them too. However, one employee over fifteen years ago totally transformed how I look at manager-employee relationships. In his case, we were having lunch refreshing our connection. We discussed training, his career and his manager. I eventually asked, “How do […]

Problem-solving Technique: Train Brain to See Smaller Parts

  In 12Most I wrote about business lessons from various battles. Pydna in 168 B.C. – the titanic clash between two undefeated armies, the Macedonians and the Romans – illustrates flexibility’s inherent power by working with smaller units. We can become better problem solvers if we can train our minds to see the smaller aspects […]

Clarity vs. Truth: Problem-solving Implications

We often assume two words have the same meaning. If true, there would be no need for the two separate words. Distinguishing the difference develops our problem-solving skills in very much the same way that higher resolutions allow cameras to picture things that lower-resolution ones can’t. We won’t see problem-solving opportunities using a low-resolution perspective […]

People Easily Make False Confessions

When we approach problems too logically and reasonably, we tend to place too much faith in the dominance of consciousness and to discount subjective influences that vary by person. For example, the Innocence Project, by using DNA evidence, has helped to exonerate 271 people wrongly convicted of crimes, but almost a quarter of these people […]

Eloquence Trumps Honesty in Trust & Likeability Wars

Intuitive approaches often work because we don’t believe they do. Advertising is an excellent example: it influences us because we often believe it doesn’t. This extends to our complaints about politicians not answering the question. Todd Rogers and Michael I. Norton researched this and were asked to “Defend Your Research” in “People Often Trust Eloquence […]

Why Employees Lie Even When the Truth is Better

A labor relations expert emailed me describing a trial in which an employee lied about a previous injury even when the truth would have helped her receive compensation. He wondered whether such lying was just something the employer had to accept. First, I would broaden the context by asking: Why did the employee feel the […]