Sunday, October 25, 2015

Humor Me

I was working with an intern that had made a mistake in his work. It was not a big deal, as I don’t give work to interns that could be catastrophic if mistakes are made. However, I could see that this person was petrified that he was going to be in big trouble.

I started the conversation by asking what happened. He explained what he was trying to do, what he thought he had done, and how his efforts had completely backfired and messed up our data. I then looked at him and said, “Boy, I’m glad I’ve never done that.” He looked at me while holding his breath, and I smiled. He realized I was just kidding and let out his breath.

I explained that I didn’t mind when people made mistakes. I shared some of the big mistakes I had made in my career, including the time I had completely deleted one of our databases.

We then had a great conversation where I asked him what he learned from the experience and how we could prevent the same kind of mistake in the future. With the pressure off, he was open to suggestions and even came up with some great ideas on his own.

Are there times when I need to be more serious? Absolutely, but they aren’t as often as you think. By using a positive attitude filled with some fun and humor, and releasing any associated tension, we can experience big breakthroughs. In this “laughing” atmosphere, we learn better and are also open to new ideas. I also find that people are more willing to bring problems to my attention.

When you find yourself in a stressful situation, be a leader that can take a step back, and look for the humor in the situation. Your teams will be grateful. 

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