Tribal Leadership Tip #5
Ban Night of the Living Dead Conversations
Most organizations have lots of Stage Three (“I’m great and you’re not”) bullies who thrive on dropping the culture around them to Stage Two (“My life sucks.”) Remember, Stage Three and Stage Two have an inherent dysfunctional relationship with one another. One of their techniques is to have a ready supply of “I will crush you like a bug” stories they can use to put anyone back in their place. Here are some we heard while writing Tribal Leadership:
1. Remember when you did ______ and I saved you?
2. Don’t talk to me about teamwork, because you did _______ a year ago.
3. This is ironic coming from you. Remember ______?
Like Night of the Living Dead–a movie where zombies would rise from the grave over and over—these lines open conversations that never go anywhere, never resolve anything and never make life better for anyone. They are tactics of control and manipulation. It’s time to elevate the cultural conversation.
Needle Moving Challenge
In the movie, zombies would only die if they were shot in the head. Here’s how to shoot these “Night of the Living Dead” conversations in the head so they won’t rise again:
1. Next time a Stage Three bully drags one of these conversations up, say the following: “I’ll talk about this on one condition…when we’re done with this conversation today, we’re done with it. Deal?”
2. Send the bully an e-mail saying that you’re grateful you two resolved the issue, and because its resolved, you will both will never bring it up again.
3. Next time the person brings up the issue, remind him or her that you’ve moved past that issue. If that doesn’t work, say “you’re the one who agreed we were done with this.” Pull up the e-mail if necessary.
Stage Four can only form when you’ve effectively dealt with bullies and elevate the conversation.