Workstorming - why conversations at work go wrong, and how to fix them

This post is my summary of this book, so this is only parts of the book... The story in this book is real eye opening, it has a real example in real world, how to handle it and it will make you think.

Leonardo da Vinci summed up my situation claimed that he said, 'An average human looks without seeing listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking

When you place a higher value on noticing, you pick up the nuances and subtext of because conversation more easily, observe the impact of tone and body language more acutely and learn from every interaction, whether it goes well or goes awry. Instead of listening without hearing, and talking without thinking, conversations become richer and more fulfilling.You can also dominate the conversation by remaining silent.

LESSON 1: Start to notice how little you notice.

Watch for the warning lights


when the accusations and the criticisms are starting to fly and you're beginning to sound alarmingly self-righteous.
Blamestorming is a strategy for one-upmanship, in which we justify our own behaviour and assign fault to others. It's heavily driven by our emotions and is therefore very reactive.
How can you tell when you're Blamestorming? It's when you're more committed to finding fault than to resolving an issue.


When your emotions take over, inflaming your conversation to the point where logical thinking and rational discussion are thrown to the wind.
How can you tell when you're escalating?  You'll notice the intensity of an argument increasing fast and the speed of conversation will accelerate too.

Yes, But...

When you brush aside someone's opinion because they don't tally with yours or dismiss their solution don't feel heard.
How can you tell if you're in Yes... but? you'll know that either of you is listening, next time when you go into a meeting where people have differences of opinion, notice how often you cut each other sentences.


When a conversation flow and rhythm starts to fall apart because you're trying to take control of it.
How can you tell when you're in Dominatricks? The conversation feels competitive, you'll start to notice you're interrupting the person you're speaking with and not taking time to pause, listen and reflect.

Mixed messages

When you're speaking at cross-purposes or making assumptions without checking for mutual understanding.
How can you tell when you're in Mixed Messages?
- you're not 100 per cent certain what's been said, or when an action needs to be delivered, or who's accountable
- you're not confident that others are on the same page as you

Pay attention to the signals

When we ignore the warning lights, we are likely to end up in one of the following places:
- The tangle - where crossed wires lead to uncertainty and confusion, uncoordinated action and frustrated expectations.
- The Big Argument - where a conversation spirals into a bitter row with a work colleague, a supplier or even a customer.
- The Bad Place - where you're left feeling angry, upset or disconnected with someone after a conversation has gone wrong.
- The Lock Down - where someone withdraws from the relationship and is reluctant or unwilling to discuss it.

Make a choice

Having noticed the warning lights, you're still at liberty to say "yes But.." or to employ dominatricks and blamestorming or even escalation. It's your choice, but the difference is that you can choose consciously. Every time you see a warning light, you can press on regardless or you can change direction, you can do so with open eyes.
Conversation are filled with choice points. you can continue a conversation or stop it, speed it up or slow it down, maintain its rhythm or break it up. You'll only see the choice points if you pay attention to the underlying dynamics of the conversation rather than listening through you opinions.

LESSON 2 : Respond consciously instead of reacting unconsciously.

Take charge again

How to reclaim your time and your sanity

We have four principal coping strategies, each of which has an impact on how we conduct conversation. We could think of these as modern day survival strategies :


The way we organize our time. Our tendency is to fill every available space in our already-bulging calendar so out commitments run back to back.
What's the impact of stacking? You have no space to think, or tolerance for things to overrun or time to deal with new issues as they emerge. In the process, you compromise your recovery time and become vulnerable to burnout.


The way we manage our attention. we run from one conversation to the next, frantically trying to keep up, getting the illusion of speed but not necessarily the satisfaction of progress.
What's the impact of spinning? just because you are physically moving from one conversation to the next, it doesn't mean you're mentally or emotionally engaged in them. as we already seen the more you spin the more your attention span diminishes. Spinning lends itself to thinking errors, shallow conversation and loose ends.


the way we deal with the waves of information that crash over us. we skim to pick out the headlines and the Urgent issues and the focus is on speed rather than depth.
What's the impact of skimming? Skimming is an essential coping strategy for dealing with certain types of situation. But if you skim when you're listening, you won't take take the time to listen to the subtext or gather detailed information. When you listen this way, it leaves people with the experience that they're not getting heard which in turn erodes the quality of your conversation and your relationships.


Spilling the way of boundaries get blurred. We're spilling when we are reading our email during meeting interrupting a one in one to take a phone call or checking who send a text message during a meal at home.  What's the impact of spilling? People are left feeling that they don't have your attention or that there being ignored.

  • Stacking antidote - create spaces in your day between commitments  schedule apps in your day between meetings in which you have nothing planned and turn them into Your calendar like any other commitment and use them for thinking time or to have conversation that's important but not urgent
  • Spinning antidote -  manage your attention you're not always going to give people your undivided attention but you can notice when your attention drifts away during a conversation and then bring it back to the person your speaking to.
  • Skimming antidote -  Go deeper not shallower
    have your conversation but take them deeper rather than skimming so you can get on to the next task take an extra minute to get clear. Listen. Think about the other person's perspective or check who's taking accountability this way you reduce the chance of mixed message and people will have the experience that you're listening to them rather than tolerating them.
  • Spilling antidote - put the boundaries back in. Turn off your email during evening and weekends. If someone urgently need to reach you they can call you and they have a message. Technology should not be allowed to control us and dominate our lives. We should control technology. As you take on regaining control life's challenges won't go away depending on your job. Your clients will continue to call and emails will stream into your inbox. You still need to juggle competing demands and commitment, but you don't need to wait for life to slow down before taking hold of the reins.

LESSON 3 speed doesn't always lead to productivity.

Engage your brain

Mindless reaction

Mindlessness occurs when we get stuck in a narrow or fixed view of the world or react without thinking about our values or the wider context of a given situation.

Emotional triggers

If a threat is confirmed by your limbic system, even if it's on the basis of fleeting Impressions physiologically processes are activated in preparation for fight flight or freeze response.

Autopilot and mental rules

Sometimes it's because you're applying a mental group that you learn in the past without considering for the current context. Our mental rules are mostly invisible to us the consequences of this are significant for any organization wanting to create a culture of innovation.

Mindful responses

- You need to notice your own thoughts and feelings since you don't choose them. You can't switch them on and off, but you can choose how you respond to them.

- You need to be open to new information and alternative perspectives. When interacting with someone else being mindful requires considerations for the other person's context and this is where listening comes in. You can say the name thing to two different people and later reflect that it was mindful in one instance and Mindless in the other.

- You need to be able to reference your own commitments and values. If you can reference your values in this difficult situation, you're more likely to find your voice and give mindful response.

Get your rational brain involved.

When you operate on autopilot, you're drawing on the areas of your brain associated with habits and the retrieval of memories the application of a mental rule occurs. So quickly and automatically that you don't even notice. It's happening. Perhaps it's Accurate to say that the rule things you. This work perfectly well much of the time except when it doesn't we've already seen how you can get caught out. If you apply the rule without considering the nuances of the current context and assimilating new information and the odds of this happening are greatly increased when you're spinning and skimming.
It's not always that involving your rational brain give the right answer every time, but it allows you to think through the options and reference them against your values and commitment before taking action. just as you cant see your reflection in boiling water, so you can always see a situation clearly when your emotion are raging.

Restore the pauses

The commas and full stops are poses that help you create meaning, no word was ever as effective as a rightly time paused. when you stack your conversation they lose their coherence.
Reclaim the punctuation marks in your day instead of letting them get squeezed out and use this moment to engage your rational brain reflect on your values and decide the best way forward.
A study found out that their employees who had the highest productivity then put in the longest hour instead. They took regular breaks on average. They took 17 minutes breaks before 52 minutes of work when you're caught up in coping strategy of stacking spinning skimming and spilling it feels as If you don't have a moment to lose and must push on.

Choose your Channel

Bearing in mind that the potential for ambiguity make extra efforts to explain your contacts when communicating by email or text. as a general rule never tackle an issue by text or email the fact that email is easier and avoid a face-to-face conversation doesn't mean that it's right if you want to resolve a conversation, that's Wrong move up as far up the communication chain as you can switching to a channel that allows you to hear the other person's tone of voice or better still see their body language, but the first job is to think before you act.

Lesson 4 the busier you are the more pauses you need.

Listen before speaking

Being present doesn't take longer.

The idea that we don't have time to listen is mostly an excuse. listening starts with being fully present in the conversation that you're in.  this doesn't necessarily increase the length of your interactions, It can make them shorter. When we give people our full attention. They feel that they're speaking has value because there are being heard.

Practice being in the conversation you're in.

Your thoughts and feelings are never going to change all together. So the best option is to notice them and keep bringing your attention back to the conversation you're in before the process repeats itself. each time You mentally drift away, your return your attention to the conversation again. over a period of time, This will become a habit. As you become more present, your affinity with people will deepen and your productivity can only go up.

Lesson 5 : remember that silence is an anagram of listen.

Make your meeting count.

Work backward not forward

Make sure that three questions are asked before invites are sent out.
- What the purpose of the meeting this clarifies the reason for having it?
- What are the intended outcomes these enhancers what you want to come away with?
- Who's meeting is it ? This tells you who's accountable for it

First get clear on purposes and outcomes and then figure out how to make them happen. You can practice this approach in relation to any Endeavor or project, and doing so for meetings is a good place to start. after a while, It becomes a way of life.

What kind of meeting is it

Operational meetings

Reset the purpose and intentions as follows. This is to raise issues and opportunities on key projects and to agree priorities for the coming week and month.

Meetings for decisions

Before going into a meeting where I decision needs to be made you have to be Crystal Clear who the decision maker is. Literally stated the word decide means to cut off the alternative, but if you don't know who's making the decision Then it will be you who is accountable. Your choices are

- Make a unilateral decision if he's already made up his mind. It's best to be honest about it so that he doesn't waste everyone's time.
- Make a decision after input. It's perfectly legitimate for you to hear the differences of opinion around the table and then make the call given that you are accountable for the decision.
- Take a majority vote. If you go down this route, you must be clear in your own mind that you'll accept the group decision. Even if it opposes your own.
- Look for a full consensus by opting this strategy. You must consider what it's going to do if there's a split decision.

Meetings to create new ideas

Meetings to resolve issues

What to do How's the time and double the value? Seven question to ask Is there a clear purpose and outcomes for the meeting who's meeting is it
have people done the preparation that's been asked for is it essential for everyone to be here? Do we need the allocated time? Do we need to meet in person or we can tackle the conversation remotely have we got agreement for how we will conduct a meeting? Each of these steps will help you combat the down side effects of stacking Spinning Skimming and spilling you'll have a fewer meetings and higher quality conversation. It is said that people who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

Lesson 6 : Time wasted in meetings can be bought back.

Identify motivations

Notice what motivates and demotivates you.

Talk about motivations

If you manage people make sure you talk about motivations in your one-to-one conversations instead of just checking on the progress against goals and objectives. The investment of time would have been tiny compared to the effort involved in interviewing hiring and embedding a replacement.

Be aware of clashes.

You can start to make mindful choices about how to reconcile your motivation when you get them out in the open and discuss them in the process. You reclaim your power.

Lesson 7 . What motivates you may demotivate others?

Challenge truth

when you feel stuck imagine your issues as a sculpture of a plinth in the middle of the room. Because I sculptor works in a three-dimensional medium, he or she needs to give as much as attention to the back of the sculpture as the front and will consider how it looks from above and below. in the same way, If you consider the first, second and third perspective when faced with a challenge, you develop a more dynamic view of it and can avoid becoming stuck in a single interpretation.

The best way of getting a three-dimensional perspective is to create regular opportunities to listen to each other story. All of these have their appropriate time and place, but the first challenge is to be curious about each other's World which forces you to listen slowly and helps prevent me Opia. Even they can an hour to stop and listen to people's stories will be repaid many times over in the deepening of relationship. So long as you set the ground rules and don't let judgment and blame creeping start by acknowledging that you are only speaking a truth. And not the truth and then here each other out

Agree working assumptions

To deliver any collective project successfully you must get your assumption out in the open in doing so you recognize that you're operating in a world of series rather than the truth and you reduce the chance of stumbling into the tangle if circumstances change you can update your working assumption. Accordingly, but you'll be making a conscious choice to do so.

Sharpen your storytelling skills.

The best storytellers understand their audience hold people's attention and manage the pace and rhythm of their interactions.

Create a shared story.

A collective story is sometimes needed which extends Way Beyond the legal closes in a partnership agreement and which resonate across all stakeholders create a shared sense of belonging.

Show people the future.

Great story needs to be meaningful and compelling taking people to a different world.

Understand your audience

Your story need to penetrate into the life of your listeners. So they say, yes me too. You must adapt your story to address their consideration while maintaining a core message like a golden thread that binds them all together. It must evolve and be retold many times without losing its essence.

Describe the challenge

the tradition of Storytelling usually involves a protagonist who faces a challenge to overcome the odds and defeat an antagonist. The challenge can never be trivial, it requires plug and courage, and inner struggle needs to be overcome in order to fulfill the outer struggle. by continually making connections between the future and the current reality, the challenge is crystallized.

Strive for Simplicity

the best stories will leave you with a simple and memorable message. Don't overcook them.

Lesson 8 : share stories rather than arguing over the truth.

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