Stop Jumping to Conclusions

Shawnee Love   •   August 13, 2020

We judge ourselves with the grace that comes from knowing our underlying intentions, needs, goals and beliefs.  However, we judge others by our observations which are limited in space, time, and context and framed through our own lenses of knowledge and experience, current mental health, past experience with the individual and opinions on them.

Thus, even the perceptions of perfectly reasonable people like ourselves, are a version of reality. By becoming aware of our biases, and our capabilities to handle stress (particularly where the individuals or situations are emotionally charged), we can get better at handling them and protecting our relationships at the same time.

Blog after blog, I have been a broken record about how people’s stress levels are leaking all over workplaces and co-workers. What I want to do now is share a simple model for helping employees move through reactionary conclusions to gain the perspective necessary to handle life.

  1. Consequences: Start by asking your employee how they feel and what they said or did as a result of those feelings.
  2. Activating Event: Next, have your employee describe the triggering event or upsetting situation that occurred.
  3. Thinking: Find out what the person was thinking about as this situation was unfolding. Learn what beliefs do they hold about the event and/or those involved.
  4. Possibilities: Have the employee identify what else could have been going on and whether this is another possible explanation? Ask questions like:
    1. What proof do you have?
    2. Are there any other logical explanations which are possible?
    3. Have you encountered this type of situation before and if so, how did it unfold?
    4. Have you ever been wrong about this type of situation before?
    5. What would you advise a friend in this circumstance and why?
    6. What else is going on (in and out of work) which could be playing a role?
  5. Evaluation: Work with your employee to truly evaluate the possibilities described and discard the unlikely, illogical, or self-defeating aspects.
  6. Summarize: Have the employee describe the new or modified perspective or understanding they have?
  7. Progress: Ask your employee how they will move forward leveraging this new perspective?

This discussion should be done privately, confidentially, and may not occur in one sitting.

Coaching employees through interpersonal and emotional challenges has become a critical skill for managers today, so we hope this model helps you help your employees.