- Coming November 22: Motivation and the Reification Error
- We commit the reification error when we assume, incorrectly, that we can treat abstract constructs as if they were real objects. It's a common error when we try to motivate people. Available here and by RSS on November 22.
- And on November 29: Manipulators Beware
- When manipulators try to manipulate others, they're attempting to unscrupulously influence their targets to decide or act in some way the manipulators prefer. But some targets manage to outwit their manipulators. Available here and by RSS on November 29.
Other topical archives:
August 9, 2017
- Counterproductive Knowledge Workplace Behavior: II
- In knowledge-oriented workplaces, counterproductive work behavior takes on forms that can be rare or unseen in other workplaces. Here's Part II of a growing catalog.
December 14, 2016
- Dealing with Meeting Hijackings
- When you haven't prevented a meeting hijacking, and you believe a hijacking is underway, what can you do? How can you regain control?
December 7, 2016
- Preventing Meeting Hijacking
- Meeting leads, meeting Chairs, and facilitators must be prepared to deal with meeting hijackers. Hesitation, or any ineffectual action, enhances the hijacker's chances of success. Here are suggestions for preventing hijacking.
November 30, 2016
- How to Hijack Meetings
- Recognizing the tactics meeting hijackers use is the first step to reducing the incidence of this abuse. Here are some of those tactics.
November 23, 2016
- Why People Hijack Meetings
- When as Chair of a meeting, you have difficulty completing a reasonable agenda, you might be the target of a hijacking. Here's Part I of a series exploring meeting hijacking.
September 21, 2016
- Counterproductive Knowledge Work Behavior
- With the emergence of knowledge-oriented workplaces, counterproductive work behavior is taking on new forms that are rare or inherently impossible in workplaces where knowledge plays a less central role. Here are some examples.
September 14, 2016
- Behavioral Indicators of Political Risk
- Avoiding dangerous political interactions is easier if you know what to look for. Among the indicators of possible trouble are the behaviors of the people around you.
September 7, 2016
- Cultural Indicators of Political Risk
- Because of fire risk, hiking in dry forests during dry seasons can be dangerous. In the forest, we stay safe from fire if we attend to the indicators of fire risk. In the workplace, do you know the indicators of political risk?
April 27, 2016
- Pushing the "Stupid" Button
- Some people know exactly how to lead others to feel ignorant or unintelligent. Here's a little catalog of tactics to watch for.
December 2, 2015
- Suppressing Dissent: II
- Disagreeing with the majority in a meeting, or in some cases, merely disagreeing with the Leader, can lead to isolation and other personal difficulties. Here is Part II of a set of tactics used by Leaders who choose not to tolerate differences of opinion, emphasizing the meeting context.
November 25, 2015
- Suppressing Dissent: I
- In some groups, disagreeing with the majority, or disagreeing with the Leader, can be a personally expensive act. Here is Part I of a set of tactics used by Leaders who choose not to tolerate dissent.
December 24, 2014
- The Perils of Novel Argument
- When people use novel or sophisticated arguments to influence others, the people they're trying to influence are sometimes subject to cognitive biases triggered by the nature of the argument. This puts them at a disadvantage relative to the influencer. How does this happen?
November 26, 2014
- Ten Approaches to Managing Project Risks: II
- Managing risk entails coping with unwanted events that might or might not happen, and which can be costly if they do happen. Here's Part II of our exploration of coping strategies for unwanted events.
November 19, 2014
- Ten Approaches to Managing Project Risks: I
- Risk management usually entails coping with losses if they do occur. Here's Part I of a concise summary of the options for managing risk.
February 12, 2014
- Some Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: III
- Skip-level interviews — dialogs between a subordinate and the subordinate's supervisor's supervisor — can be hazardous. Here's Part III of a little catalog of the hazards, emphasizing subordinate-initiated skip-level interviews.
February 5, 2014
- Some Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: II
- Skip-level interviews are dialogs between a subordinate and the subordinate's supervisor's supervisor. They can be both heplful and hazardous. Here's Part II of a little catalog of the hazards.
January 29, 2014
- Some Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: I
- Although skip-level interviews have their place, they can be dangerous, explosive, and harmful to the organization. What are the dangers?
July 3, 2013
- Active Deceptions at Work
- Among the vast family of workplace deceptions, those that involve presenting fiction as reality are among the most exasperating, because we sometimes feel fooled or gullible. Lies are the simplest example of this type, but there are others, and some are fiendishly clever.
June 26, 2013
- Passive Deceptions at Work
- Among the vast family of workplace deceptions, those that involve camouflage are both the most common and the most difficult to detect. Here's a look at how passive camouflage can play a role in workplace deception.
June 19, 2013
- Deceptive Communications at Work
- Most workplace communication training emphasizes constructive uses of communication. But when we also understand how communication can be abused, we're better able to defend ourselves from abusive communication. One form of abusive communication is deception.
May 1, 2013
- Devious Political Tactics: Mis- and Disinformation
- Practitioners of workplace politics intent on gaining unfair advantage sometimes use misinformation, disinformation, and other information-related tactics. Here's a short catalog of techniques to watch for.
December 19, 2012
- Failure Foreordained
- Performance Improvement Plans help supervisors guide their subordinates toward improved performance. But they can also be used to develop documentation to support termination. How can subordinates tell whether a PIP is a real opportunity to improve?
August 29, 2012
- Devious Political Tactics: More from the Field Manual
- Careful observation of workplace politics reveals an assortment of devious tactics that the ruthless use to gain advantage. Here are some of their techniques, with suggestions for effective responses.
November 7, 2007
- Devious Political Tactics: A Field Manual
- Some practitioners of workplace politics use an assortment of devious tactics to accomplish their ends. Since most of us operate in a fairly straightforward manner, the devious among us gain unfair advantage. Here are some of their techniques, and some suggestions for effective responses.
July 20, 2005
- Devious Political Tactics: Divide and Conquer, Part II
- While most leaders try to achieve organizational unity, some do use divisive tactics to maintain control, or to elevate performance by fostering competition. Here's Part II of a series exploring the risks of these tactics.
July 6, 2005
- Devious Political Tactics: Divide and Conquer, Part I
- While most leaders try to achieve organizational unity, some do use divisive tactics to maintain control, or to elevate performance by fostering competition. Understanding the risks of these tactics can motivate you to find another way.
September 29, 2004
- Devious Political Tactics: Cutouts
- Cutouts are people or procedures that enable political operators to communicate in safety. Using cutouts, operators can manipulate their environments while limiting their personal risk. How can you detect cutouts? And what can you do about them?
October 15, 2003
- Devious Political Tactics: The Three-Legged Race
- The Three-Legged Race is a tactic that some managers use to avoid giving one person new authority. Some of the more cynical among us use it to sabotage projects or even careers. How can you survive a three-legged race?
October 1, 2003
- Devious Political Tactics: The False Opportunity
- Workplace politics can make any environment dangerous, both to your career and to your health. This excerpt from my little catalog of devious political tactics describes the false opportunity, which appears to be a chance to perform, to contribute, or to make a real difference. It's often something else.
September 24, 2003
- Devious Political Tactics: Credit Appropriation
- Managers and supervisors who take credit for the work of subordinates or others who feel powerless are using a tactic I call Credit Appropriation. It's the mark of the unsophisticated political operator.
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
- Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
- You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
- I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
- A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
- …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
Are your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…