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The Capitol Building Riot Reveals a Brutal Truth About Fostering Change (Especially With Employees) That Few People Are Willing to Admit

The Capitol Building Riot Reveals a Brutal Truth About Fostering Change (Especially With Employees) That Few People Are Willing to Admit

Last week, thousands of people gathered at a rally in Washington, D.C. Whether you agre or disagree with their position, we all have the right to

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Last week, thousands of people gathered at a rally in Washington, D.C. Whether you agre or disagree with their position, we all have the right to protest.

Some later forced their way past police and security and entered the Capitol building where lawmakers were debating the counting of electoral college votes. Whether you agree or disagree with their position, what happened next was tragic

A friend later emailed to say he agreed with the intent of the protest. He just wished it hadn’t gone wrong. 

But here’s the thing: When protesting, or standing up for yourself, or expressing your opinion, or sending a message, or trying to influence behavior goes wrong… then you haven’t just failed at whatever you hoped to accomplish. 

Your cause actually takes a step back.

Hold that thought.

When I was a child and did something wrong, my parents didn’t get mad. They didn’t yell. They didn’t discipline.

They just showed their disappointment. In me.

And boy, did that suck. I hated disappointing them.

And I never got to get mad back. I never got to feel unfairly treated. In my head, I never got to shift the focus off me and onto the harshness of the punishment. All I could do is marinate in what I had done.

Which, in terms of behavior and attitude change, worked a treat. 

The same is true where employees are concerned. 

When your employees make a mistake, it’s natural to try to make sure they don’t make the same mistake again. So you give feedback. You correct. You discipline. 

Yet heavy-handed discipline can often shift the focus off the underlying event and onto the disciplinary action.

As with my parents, get punished too severely and it’s natural to dwell on how “unfair” the punishment is — instead of on correcting what we did to deserve the feedback, the correction, or the discipline.

Most employees are their own worst critics. The employee who shipped the wrong product? He knows he messed up; he already feels bad about it. The employee who gave a customer an inaccurate proposal? She knows she messed up; she already feels bad about it.

Neither will forget what happened — and both will try really hard to make sure it never happens again.

That’s the outcome you hope for. 

And that’s why, sometimes, the best thing you can do is look an employee in the eye, nod, and walk away.

After all, your only goal is that the employee to learn from a mistake. The act of forgiveness is often much more powerful than any act of discipline can ever be.

Just like, in broader terms, ensuring you express your feelings, your opinion, your disagreement, etc. in such a way that people can only focus on what you have to say.

Instead of the way you chose to say it.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

This article is from Inc.com

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