Issue No. 113 | September 28, 2016

Supporting the Good

Ever since I wrote a book on career development over 20 years ago, I've always coached people on their careers. I love talking to people about how they can get the most out of their calling.

I developed a tradition, early on, that whenever someone would tell me that they had left their job, I would congratulate them. It didn't matter if they left of their own accord or if they were fired or downsized. Reframing their situation as an opportunity for celebration immediately created a context where they could look forward and not be bogged down by the past.

Researchers indicate that there are four ways that we respond to people's good or bad news. We are either passively supportive (nod support for their win but check our phone for messages) passively destructive (try to one up them or turn the conversation to ourselves) actively destructive (discount their success and make it seem small) or actively constructive (be genuinely interested, have desire to learn more, be understanding.)

Obviously option 4 would be one that we would aspire to using, however just having good thoughts about it are probably not sufficient. What is required is to build a habit that allows us to immediately understand the importance and value of what is being shared with us. My tradition of congratulating someone puts me into a headspace where I am paying full attention to his or her important issue.

Finding your own customs of support will require some practice to build but you'll probably have a few opportunities today.

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© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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