Five People You Should Never Trust

As a general rule, don’t trust anyone who is always happy.

When things go bad, feeling happy is denial.

anyone who doesn't feel at least a little sad about screwing-up has reached their potential

5 people you shouldn’t trust:

  1. Bubbly technical people.
  2. Cheerful surgeons.  Serious work requires serious people.
  3. Teammates who feel good about themselves after letting others down. If you don’t feel sad about hurting others, you’re an untrustworthy ass.
  4. Leaders who minimize challenges.
  5. Colleagues who choose happiness over responsibility. You can’t rely on anyone who always places personal comfort over meaningful service.

4 ways to earn trust through sadness:

#1. Don’t roll in the mud, but at least acknowledge sadness in others.

It’s not a sin to feel sad. Don’t quickly cheer someone who feels sad about screwing-up.  

#2. Explore learning. What have you learned about yourself? Anyone who doesn’t feel at least a little sad about screwing-up has reached their potential.

#3. Expect action. Don’t get sucked into coddling someone who screwed-up. Ask them what they would like to do about it. Attack helpless-sadness head on.

You can’t turn your back on sadness and press through screwing-up at the same time.

#4. Give people – who feel sad about screwing-up – new opportunities to deliver value, as long as screwing up isn’t a pattern. New opportunity re-energizes. Learn from the past. Look to the future.

Sadness and optimism:

Humans are able to feel conflicting emotion at the same time. You can be happy you’re pregnant and terrified at the responsibility all at once.

Leaders feel sad about past screw ups and optimistic that – with work – things will be different next time.

Realistic optimism is a leaderly way to respond to sadness after past screw-ups.

A little sadness increases*:

  1. Influence.
  2. Persuasion
  3. Generosity.
  4. Creativity.
  5. Persistence.
  6. Effective decision-making.
  7. Over-all success.

How might leaders navigate sadness in colleagues and teammates? In themselves?

*Adapted from The Upside of Your Dark Side by Rob Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener.

Note: This post isn’t about depression or debilitating sadness.

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