I came across this really interesting tactic and I just wanted to pop in and share it with you guys, make sure you have it in your hip pocket.
It's amazing the way that we can sometimes get ourselves caught up with negative assumptions. They can rob us of joy. They derail productivity. And can ruin reputations.
Dr. Ryan Niemieic, who's a PsyD published this approach in Psychology Today, and I turned it into a Mad Libs type of tool, which makes it first really easy to remember, second really fun and then third, super easy to do!
There is a printable guide that you can use as we go and keep as an easy point of reference, so if you haven't already gotten it, please do download it here and let's go ahead and dive in.
The power Positive Psychology gives us is the ability to reframe any of these negative circumstances we sometimes think we're in. In the corporate American setting or wherever you are in your day-to-day life, it's got the power to snap you out of a negative, circuitous thought pattern. I know it can help you guys because it's helped me rebuild relationships, deliver better-- make better political alliances and communicate more simply and directly – ultimately get my job done better.
Here we go! This is the Mad-Lib part is where we start so fill in the blanks for this scenario:
Alright now here's the next really critical piece: That person is so [blank] whatever adjective comes to mind, whatever you've been feeling so intensely. The negative thoughts you're thinking about that person? Pop that it in the adjective blank for your Mad Lib.
Now enters mindful strengths and positive reframing. When you’re applying this to today's corporate setting wherever you are in your day job, you're gonna save yourself a ton of emotional baggage by doing this.
Dr. Niemieic makes it super easy in his Psychology Today article and he says:
“To reframe something is to offer a new perspective, to give yourself a different view of the situation.”
Bottom line guys, is there another way that you can look at the situation through the frame of strengths?
We all know that this person is getting under your skin and those actions feel really negative to you, but let's think about where that other person might be coming from.
What other ways can you look at this situation? Try to imagine that you don't know this person, that you don't have history with them, that you're hearing about what happened. Imagine a co-worker is telling you about something that happened to them, you as the listener, you’re completely objective. You don't know this person from Adam or Eve.
Keep imagining that this person really means well and that whoever did this action means well, that they want to do good in the world and they want to do a good job in their day job.
Now ask yourself: How could they have thought that what they were doing was important and going to get them a good result?
In the whole wild scheme of things, what possible thing could they have been thinking that would have made sense for the action that they took?
Another thing to keep in mind is: What else could have been motivating them?
My husband and I have this conversation in traffic all the time! He attributes negative values to other drivers, like, “This guy's driving up my bumper, he's so hateful! Why is he being so aggressive?!” And my response is typically, “You don't know what that person is going through - we have no idea where that person's going to, where they're coming from, what's motivating them to get where they are.”
It’s true some people make bad decisions and don't have good intent but other times they do. Maybe they're dealing with an emergency or crisis or they're physically uncomfortable, you never know.
It’s such a hard habit to break and it's so trite for me to say don't make those kinds of assumptions because of course we make those assumptions. But next time you find yourself making the assumption, this is the trick: Just take a second and imagine what else they could be trying to achieve by the way that they're acting?
All right? Now this is the really cool hack, this is the fun part: Step 3 in the Mad Libs challenge. Work it backwards, go back to that last sentence that you completed in the Mad Lib, so-and-so is so adjective; and replace those adjectives. Dr. Niemieic gives some really great examples in his Psychology Today article. I like this:
• Replace stubborn with perseverance
• Replace distracted with highly curious
• And the one that's really fun to me is, replace hyperactive with zestful
• The other one is slowly progressing, replace that with prudent or cautious
I personally have recently had an example of working with someone who I perceived to be a micromanager, it gets so super painful for me. I really like to be pretty much left alone to do my job - I do it really well and consistently. That's why I keep getting called back to do it. So I used this Mad Lib challenge and I replaced micromanager with highly invested in the success of the project, and also potentially insecure; so this person is highly invested in the success of the project and is insecure.
That helped me approach the situation differently. Not only the work that I was doing as a direct deliverable to her but also my communication with her so that I could give her more assurance. I could pre-emptively address what would help her feel more secure by giving her all the data points she needed and conduct the conversation differently; and it’s worked really well for me, I hope it works really well for you.
Now it's your turn!
Go back to that sentence, find the adjective that you used and try to think of another way to frame it in the lens of strength. In what other ways could this potentially be a strength?
We know that this is all an imagination exercise. There are people out there that you will just never get along with but for 99% of your relationships, where you have friction and you start having these negative thoughts, this Mad Lib challenge is going to work like a dream.
It can change lives, it can change your relationships, it can change how you're perceived by them and how you perceive them. It's a wonderful tool and I’m so glad Dr. Niemieic posted it. Here is the link is to the Psychology Today article and the Pure Wow summary where I originally found it.
I hope this works for you. Again, don't forget to grab your free printable Mad Lib guide here. It will guide you through this challenge. You can keep it as a quick reference document anytime you encounter these negative thoughts. Or, if you have a peer or co-worker or a friend who is constantly down on other people, maybe just send this to them and recommend that they see it and apply it.
Alright guys that's it for this episode for TheRealCrew.com’s Masterclass, How 2 Minutes of Mad Libs Can Change Your Life!
With love joy and gratitude,