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.
5 people you shouldn’t trust:
- Bubbly technical people.
- Cheerful surgeons. Serious work requires serious people.
- Teammates who feel good about themselves after letting others down. If you don’t feel sad about hurting others, you’re an untrustworthy ass.
- Leaders who minimize challenges.
- 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*:
- Effective decision-making.
- 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.
This blog routinely has something that is well timed. I’m going through this today because of a project I overreacted on yesterday. I’m disappointed with myself for the overreaction, but I’m excited about the prospect of better documenting and outlining the process so it’s easier next time.
Thanks Josh. You sound like a real human. The “next time” approach is the source of energy and resolve in my world. “Last time” feels more like a downer, when things went wrong.
huh? I disagree with 5 people you shouldn’t trust:
Bubbly technical people.
Cheerful surgeons. Serious work requires serious people.
I know some in both categories and they are the hardest working, attention detail oriented people around. The data is out there to demonstrate that a positive, somewhat relaxed surgical suite has fewer mistakes with better patient outcomes. Serious workers with a cheerful, outgoing personality are a serious plus. They help high performing cultures THRIVE.
I could not agree more! I am going to be much more confident going into surgery if my surgeon is confident and cheerful than if he/she is dour and fails to see my human need for reassurance.
Thanks Josie. I’ll take the grumpy surgeon who wants everything just so and bosses people around when they aren’t. There’s something comforting about a surgeon who is demanding and unhappy if things are right. But, lest’s hope neither of us need surgery in the near future.
I’m with Dan on bubbly versus serious. Good if that CVS clerk is happy (they seldom really are) but the prison guard or that student in a teaching hospital about to do some heart surgery sure ought to bring a serious demeanor to things. Can a surgeon crack a joke or something like Alan Alda on MASH? Sure. But I am not sure that “happy” is a synonym for “focused and attentive.”
My guess is that more teenagers crash cars when they are giggly than when they are serious with the other people in the car with them. I want the pilot of the small plane looking at the instruments rather than telling me a string of yo mama jokes.
The work on neuroscience and thinking says that multi-tasking is really a myth and that we can really only focus on one thing at a time. If that is a heart valve, I sure don’t want to hear a joke about Fluffy.
Thanks Dr. Scott. Interesting how you include focus. The more focused we become, the less “happy” we seem. But, isn’t it interesting that being in the flow feels great when we reflect back on it? But, if I saw you fully focused on solving a problem, I might think you weren’t happy.
I think we need to remember that “happy” is a subjective term. Those who are passionate about what they do and are content in themselves and their lives may not appear to be happy to others but I suspect they are perfectly comfortable with who and where they are in life.
Thanks MaryJo. I’m with you, I know some cheerful technical people and happy surgeons. It shouldn’t take but a moments reflection to see that overall, these folks walk a more sober path than marketing people, for example.
Love your connection between cheerful and serious. It’s a wonderful, if not rare combination.
BTW. I’m happy to concede the first two points, if you will endorse the last three.
As an engineer-technical-person, this post touched a nerve with me as well as I understand and identify with all of the points mentioned above. It’s true that as a technical person, manager, and a leader you need to be focused, decisive, and always thinking about the technical task at hand. But one lesson I learned over the years has been that while the quality of the technical work at hand obviously matters, the people I’m working with and for matter MORE. The client, the team, and ultimately the people who benefit from the work matter more. Early in my career I was a fussy, impatient, hard-driving, un-compromising engineer/leader/manager. Lately I’ve been noticing that my influence on the quality of the products and production of the team has more to do with how I treat people than any other factor. My main point is that being great technically does not give someone an excuse to treat people poorly. In fact that combination of great technical, management, leadership and interpersonal skills is what “technical people” should be striving for. I just don’t want a “pass” to be the cold technical person I used to be! Hahah. Great post Dan. Thanks for all you do!
I see you took something from the Hillary Clinton playbook. Go negative, become distrustful, screw the optimist who looks at the glass half full, lemonade out of lemons- you get the gist.
this is counter too counter-productive to the mantra you tout of elements of a Leader, real Leaders, not wanna bees or Managers who rule with a club of intimidation
People who truly have a passion for what they do have a cheerful outlook. It also behooves those in management, aka these Leaders you tout, embrace a positive outlook. This cheerful outlook is so much different than the ha ha ha’s, combined with smirks and false bravado smiles of deceit.
Whew don’t know what you were drinking yesterday, but my recommendation is stay away from it, even if it was water for its contaminated with jaundiced pessimism. Naysayers are a dime a dozen as they say, a downer, even in project “leading”
Thanks Don. It sounds like you’re unhappiness with my post moved you to action. I’m delighted. 🙂
I know some people who are truly passionate about excellence, for example, and are pretty darn grumpy. There’s always unhappy with anything less than perfection. (Which is nearly all the time.) They’re hard to get along with, but they push me to be better.
Perhaps the 80/20 rule applies. Life needs to be 20% sad or it’s out of whack. 🙂
Regarding the drink. I have a sip or two of adult beverage, from time to time. But not enough to have a major impact. Frankly, I lean toward the dark side as a matter of temperament. Most of the posts I write are my way of answering something I don’t like or don’t want.
W. Edwards Deming. THE guru on excellence / quality. Or Peter Drucker, the guru on leadership. If you are using Hillary Clinton as an anchor point, she shared a lot more of the same kinds of personality and focus as those two guys (and we can generate a list of many more).
Sure, have a cheerful outlook. Avoid doing Godzilla Meets Bambi on some problem. But joking about how mad the customer got before they left sure is not going to generate a culture of excellence.
I also find it a bit funny that you talk about the “Hillary Playbook” and use the phrases “Go negative, become distrustful, screw the optimist” to describe her as opposed to that other guy who seemingly shows a good bit of racism and fascism as he talks about anyone around him he does not seem to like. Trust and Truthfulness go hand in hand, and there is certainly a big gap between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump in that regard. I want a leader (at any level) to be dependable and trustworthy and serious in all aspects of things that affect me or my co-workers.
I’ll end the political dialogue on this one. Email scandals, evasiveness on Benghazi, even to Vince Foster’s mysterious suicide ? the day b4 testifying on her issues. She has a long record of manipulations and deceit. If you choose to wear that blanket of head in the sand good luck with it. And be careful around those Dr’s and Engineers who are killing off Bambi with a smile. They went to the Bill Clinton school of Amoralty- whatever works for me and I’ll smile while I’m doing you
Happy 4th and remember the integrity that drove that 4th of July to occur
Haha – you just described my boss!
Thanks CB… I hope it’s the building trust stuff. But I fear it’s the darker side of the post that your reference.
Dear Mr. Rockwell,
I always appreciate these articles and I’m thankful for the uplifting messages each day. I will have to kindly disagree with your statement on distrusting ‘Bubbly Technical people’. As a Technical Support Manager I feel having a consistent upbeat positive attitude (as does our team), is exactly the cornerstone of our teams success. Within Technical Support it is easy to let the always constant problems get to the team. But I attempt to positively foster a wonderful and happy place to work. Due to that we have extremely low employee turnover, because I feel the team genuinely loves to come to work with each other each day (a rarity in this field). I agree that as a Technical Group we have to face the hard facts to keep things working, but we can do that too and be bubbly. I hope you might be willing to reconsider that point.
Thanks Ashley. It looks like the first two illustrations on the list of five are a bit of a distraction. My wife, a CPA, told me she always hated being labeled because of her profession.
I’ll hang loosely to the first two and hang on to the last three firmly.
I so rarely disagree with your point of view. :/ I am envious of those who can take a different approach than all others and show a positive response when the rest of the group is ho-hum or upset. I’d love to think my surgeon is happy because he is doing something he loves on a day-to-day basis and has the confidence to show me a smile before he saves my life! 🙂
I think the people brave enough to show a different face in light of bad news are the ones that change course…they are the leaders we need in tough situations.
I would, however, agree with points #3 and #4 and, partially #5 (Happiness over responsibility is a hard one for me…you only live once…what if your responsibility is to live a happy life? If the actions let others down who depend on you, however, I wholeheartedly agree with #5)
Thanks Dianna. I appreciate your thoughtful response and input.
There is some research that indicates trying to be happy makes us unhappy. Perhaps we should worry less about being happy and worry more about living meaningfully?
Leaving a legacy of positive life accomplishments is a good happy, rather than simply being stoned all the time and going through life “relaxed,” right? I think I recall research from 50 years ago that indicated that a frontal lobotomy, where the tissue of the frontal lobe of the brain is actually disconnected from the rest of the brain, eliminated some of the negative aspects of personality. (On occasion, I see someone who I think might actually benefit from a treatment like that, but I digress…)
I am happier when I have completed some challenge, but that also makes me focus on completing the next one. It is all really about balance, right?
Happy should be a byproduct of behavior and choices made, not a goal to achieve. Ya think?
Very interesting article! I particularly found it interesting that the study found people experiencing happy thoughts are more prone to stereotype. That is quite surprising. I suspected the happy group would find more people innocent rather than guilty!
Thank you for the thought-provoking insight today. Never did I dream I would wake up today and discover that not being happy can be … a good thing. :l
We humans are a strange bunch, aren’t we?
@ Mr. Simmerman,
Thank you for your inclusion that it’s all about balance. I think this is the other side of the discussion that is most important.
Happy holiday to both of you. We are not a perfect bunch in this country but, I dare say, I am still extremely HAPPY to be an American! 🙂
DJ – Have Great Fun out there!
I totally agree with you about so called “higher ups” that are constantly cheerful, joking, smiling in time of big budget shortfall in our industry. Just can’t trust them. Seriously!
Thanks Pilgrim. Your comment reminds me of the difference between happy and optimistic. We can feel the weight of challenges and still believe that working hard can make a positive difference.
I think you missed the mark a little on this post. There is always a risk with generalizations and a couple of the untrustworthy folks seem to be wrongly categorized.
Bubbly technical people? I am an ENFP and although not bubbly (unless medicated) I am far enough outside the INTJ circle to be considered absolutely manic by some of my IT colleagues and I work every day to be a trusted advisor, a trusted coach, a trusted team member and a trusted employee.
A serious surgeon is good but if you cant be cheerful and still be serious, well the customer is going to get no empathy and no understanding.
You cant separate Cheerfulness from other emotions that lead to connection.
the list should have included liars, opportunists, minimizers of all kinds, and the list goes on well beyond 5.
Thanks Jim … Cheerful. Thanks for jumping in. I agree. It’s possible, even desirable, to connect sadness and happiness. We are able to feel contrasting emotions at the same time.
I’m not endorsing the idea that we should try to be sad. But, there’s nothing wrong with those who lean toward the dark side. I’ll go as far as to say that sadness is useful. When you’re sad about something – not depressed – you are motivated to change it.
Now, painting technical people with a broad brush seems to ignite some responses. As I’m sure you can see.
I’m thankful for your comment and enjoying the conversation.
My pastor once preached a message about every one wanting to live on the mountain top. The analogy being that when things are going good and everything is rolling your way you are on the mountain top. He pointed out that although there are times that it is wonderful to be up there, if you look around you will notice that there is nothing growing up there. You need to get down into the valleys (analogy for things going poorly) to see the real and extraordinary growth take place.
That has stuck with me for a lot of years. sometimes its what keeps a persons head up reminding yourself that these times are putting into me things that will not be added any other way. You can run with that a while too (good things, bad things).
Thanks for the response and the everyday food for leaders!!
You really stirred the kettle today, and that’s great! It shows all of us care to various levels of certainty, whether we agree or disagree on all the points is fine!
Everyone of us needs someone sometimes to be all the above in your Blog! I just hope these individuals bring their best!
I would like to say. It takes more energy to express sadness then it is to smile and move on. Positive thinking is paramount. Take a moment to reflect on a problem but don’t dwell on it. Positive thinking makes positive results. Don’t complain about a situation unless you know a manner in which you can change it. Have you ever heard the expression “Smile it makes people wonder what you are up to.” I think most people that show cheerfulness all the time were probably brought up with this notion. What a concept try it.
Always great posts here! Timely! I’m not a perfect leader; but I am pursuing excellence in leadership. Thank you Dan for helping bring clarity and hope as we serve in this capacity.