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Archive for 2015

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Henny Youngman in 1957Coming April 22: Quips That Work at Work: Part I
Perhaps you've heard that humor can defuse tense situations. Often, a clever quip, deftly delivered, does help. And sometimes, it's a total disaster. What accounts for the difference? Available here and by RSS on April 22.
"Will" Rogers, humorist and cowboy philosopherAnd on April 29: Quips That Work at Work: Part II
Humor, used effectively, can defuse tense situations. Here's Part II of a set of guidelines for using humor to defuse tension and bring confrontations, meetings, and conversations back to a place where thinking can resume. Available here and by RSS on April 29.

This page has links to articles from 2015. For other years:

April 15, 2015

Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and President Bush in a press conference on September 17, 2001Overconfidence at Work
Confidence in our judgments and ourselves is essential to success. Confidence misplaced — overconfidence — leads to trouble and failure. Understanding the causes and consequences of overconfidence can be most useful.

April 8, 2015

A laptop with password stickiesWhy We Don't Care Anymore
As a consultant and coach I hear about what people hate about their jobs. Here's some of it. It might help you appreciate your job.

April 1, 2015

The business end of a spark plugCreating Toxic Conflict: Part II
Some supervisors seem to behave as if part of their job description is creating toxic conflict among their subordinates. It isn't really, of course, but here's a collection of methods bad managers use that make trouble.

March 25, 2015

The flagship store of the Market Basket supermarket chainCreating Toxic Conflict: Part I
Many managers seem to operate as if their primary goal is to create toxic conflict among their subordinates. Here's a collection of methods for sowing toxic conflict that can help bad managers become worse managers.

March 18, 2015

A studio publicity photo of Alfred HitchcockSuspense Is Not Your Friend
Most of us have to talk to other people at work. Whether to peers, subordinates, or superiors, sometimes we must convey information that can be complicated when delivered in full detail. To convey complicated ideas effectively, avoid suspense.

March 11, 2015

Brendan Nyhan and Jason ReiflerHistorical Debates at Work
One obstacle to high performance in teams is the historical debate — arguing about who said what and when, or who agreed to what and when. Here are suggestions for ending and preventing historical debates.

March 4, 2015

A highway sign on the way to AbileneVirtual Trips to Abilene
One dysfunction of face-to-face meetings is the Trip to Abilene, which leads groups to make decisions no members actually support. It can afflict virtual meetings, too, even more easily.

February 25, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer conferring in the Oval Office in 2010Grace Under Fire:Part II
When we debate at work, things sometimes turn unpleasant. Out of control, one party might maneuver the other into losing control. If we have better tools for recognizing these tactics, we're better able to maintain self-control. Here's Part II of such a toolkit.

February 18, 2015

Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Darryl IssaGrace Under Fire:Part I
If you're ever in a tight spot in a meeting, one in which you must defend your actions or past decisions, the soundness of your arguments can matter less than your demeanor. What can you do when someone intends to make you "lose it?"

February 11, 2015

A schematic representation of a MOSFETBottlenecks: Part II
When some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks," they expose the organization to risks. Managing those risks is a first step to ending the bottlenecking pattern.

February 4, 2015

The Niagara River and cantilever bridgeBottlenecks: Part I
Some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks." The people around them repeatedly find themselves stuck, awaiting responses or decisions. Why does this happen and what are the costs?

January 28, 2015

The cockpit of an A340 Airbus airlinerThe Limits of Status Reports: Part II
We aren't completely free to specify the content or frequency of status reports from the people who write them. There are limits on both. Here's Part II of an exploration of those limits.

January 21, 2015

The REI parking garage in Denver, ColoradoThe Limits of Status Reports: Part I
Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.

January 14, 2015

Panama Canal constructionAvoid Having to Reframe Failure
Yet again, we missed our goal — we were late, we were over budget, or we lost to the competition. But how can we get something good out of it?

January 7, 2015

Melrose Diner, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe Power and Hazards of Anecdotes: Part II
Anecdotes are powerful tools of persuasion, but with that power comes a risk that we might become persuaded of false positions. Here is Part II of a set of examples illustrating some hazards of anecdotes.

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