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Archive of Point Lookout for 2018

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Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) speaks at a recent Senate hearingComing October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
A man, standing, explaining something to a woman, seatedAnd on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.

This page has links to articles from 2018. For other years:

October 10, 2018

A knot known as the Flemish BendHelp for Finding Help
When we find ourselves at a loss for finding a good path forward, and we feel overwhelmed by events, support can make things easier. But seeking support is difficult for some. Why is that?

October 3, 2018

A hospital patientCongruent Decision-Making: II
Decision-makers who rely on incomplete or biased information are more likely to make decisions that don't fit the reality of their organizations. Here's Part II of a framework for making decisions that fit.

September 26, 2018

Virginia SatirCongruent Decision-Making: I
Decision-makers who rely on incomplete or biased information are more likely to make faulty decisions. Congruent decision-making can limit the incidence of bad decisions.

September 19, 2018

Four clutches of reed warbler eggs, each with a cuckoo egg present, on display in Bedford MuseumColumbo Tactics: II
This is Part II of a series showing how the less powerful can adapt the tactics of TV detective Lt. Columbo when they're interacting with the more powerful.

September 12, 2018

A cat sleeping on grassColumbo Tactics: I
When the less powerful must deal with the more powerful, or the much more powerful, the less powerful can gain important advantages by adapting the strategy and tactics of the TV detective Lt. Columbo. Here's Part I of a collection of his tactics.

September 5, 2018

Peter Falk as Columbo in a 1973 publicity photoColumbo Strategy
A late 20th-century television detective named Columbo had a unique approach to cracking murder cases. His method is just as effective at work when the less powerful must deal with the powerful.

August 29, 2018

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912Please Reassure Them
When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you.

August 22, 2018

The Jolly RogerDealing with Credit Appropriation
Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation.

August 15, 2018

A large audience listening to a speakerGetting Value from Involuntary Seminars
Whatever your organizational role, from time to time you might find yourself attending seminars or presentations involuntarily. The value you derive from these "opportunities" depends as much on you as on the presenter.

August 8, 2018

Winston Churchill in the Canadian Parliament, December 30, 1941Strategy for Targets of Verbal Abuse
Many targets of verbal abuse at work believe that they have just two strategic options: find a new job, or accept the abuse. In some cases, they're correct. But not always.

August 1, 2018

Tim Murphy, official photo for the 112th CongressStrategies of Verbal Abusers
Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action.

July 25, 2018

Office equipment — or is it office toys?Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness.

July 18, 2018

Children playing a computer gameHigh Falutin' Goofy Talk: III
Workplace speech and writing sometimes strays into the land of pretentious but overused business phrases, which I like to call "high falutin' goofy talk." We use these phrases with perhaps less thought than they deserve, because they can be trite or can evoke indecorous images. Here's Part III of a collection of phrases and images to avoid.

July 11, 2018

Winston Churchill in the Canadian Parliament, December 30, 1941Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: III
When we need to interrupt someone who's speaking in a meeting, we risk giving offense. Still, there are times when interrupting is in everyone's best interest. Here are some more techniques for interrupting in situations not addressed by the meeting's formal process.

July 4, 2018

A VoiceStation 500 speakerphone by PolycomInterrupting Others in Meetings Safely: II
When we feel the need to interrupt someone who's speaking in a meeting, to offer a view or information, we would do well to consider (and mitigate) the risk of giving offense. Here are some techniques for interrupting the speaker in situations not addressed by the meeting's formal process.

June 27, 2018

Puppies waiting intently for a shot at the treatInterrupting Others in Meetings Safely: I
In meetings we sometimes feel the need to interrupt others to offer a view or information, or to suggest adjusting the process. But such interruptions carry risk of offense. How can we interrupt others safely?

June 20, 2018

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879, famed abolitionist and ex-slaveManaging Dissent Risk
In group decision making, dissent risk is the risk that dissents about important decisions will be rejected without due consideration. As a result, group decision quality can suffer, and some groups will actually eject dissenters. How can we manage dissent risk?

June 13, 2018

Delicate Arch, a 60-foot tall (18 m) freestanding natural archChronic Peer Interrupters: III
People who habitually interrupt others in meetings must be fairly common, because I'm often asked about what to do about them. And you can find lots of tips on the Web, too. Some tips work well, some generally don't. Here are my thoughts about four more.

June 6, 2018

Mohandas K. Ghandi, in the 1930sChronic Peer Interrupters: II
People use a variety of tactics when they're interrupted while making contributions in meetings. Some tactics work well, while others carry risks of their own. Here's Part II of a little survey of those tactics.

May 30, 2018

The end of the line for a railroad trackChronic Peer Interrupters: I
When making contributions to meeting discussions, we're sometimes interrupted. Often, the interruption is beneficial and saves time. But some people constantly interrupt their peers or near peers, disrespectfully, in a pattern that compromises meeting outcomes. How can we deal with chronic peer interrupters?

May 23, 2018

Jeffrey Skilling, in a mug shot taken in 2004 by the United States Marshals ServiceNarcissistic Behavior at Work: IX
An arrogant demeanor is widely viewed as a hallmark of the narcissist. But truly narcissistic arrogance is off the charts. It's something beyond the merely annoying arrogance of a sometimes-obnoxious individual. What is narcissistic arrogance and how can we cope with it?

May 16, 2018

Portrait of a woman titled "Monomania of Envy"Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VIII
Narcissistic behavior at work can have roots in attitudes and beliefs. Understanding which attitudes or beliefs underlie narcissistic behavior can sometimes have predictive value. Among such attitudes or beliefs are those related to envy.

May 9, 2018

Jump ball in a game of basketballUnethical Coordination
When an internal department or an external vendor is charged with managing information about a large project, a conflict of interest can develop. That conflict presents opportunities for unethical behavior. What's the nature of that conflict, and what ethical breaches can occur?

May 2, 2018

A shark of unspecified speciesNarcissistic Behavior at Work: VII
Narcissistic behavior at work prevents trusting relationships from developing. It also disrupts existing relationships, and generates toxic conflict. One class of behaviors that's especially threatening to relationships is disregard for the feelings of others. In this part of our series we examine the effects of that disregard.

April 25, 2018

Mistletoe growing in abundance in the Wye Valley, WalesNarcissistic Behavior at Work: VI
Narcissistic behavior at work distorts decisions, disrupts relationships, and generates toxic conflict. These consequences limit the ability of the organization to achieve its goals. In this part of our series we examine the effects of exploiting others for personal ends.

April 18, 2018

A high-occupancy vehicle lane on Interstate 5 northbound near Shoreline, WashingtonNarcissistic Behavior at Work: V
When someone at work exhibits narcissistic behavior, others respond. Some respond by accommodating the behavior, and those accommodations can include special and favorable treatment of the person behaving narcissistically. That's one place where trouble can begin.

April 11, 2018

Santa Claus arrives at 57th and Broadway in New York in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeNarcissistic Behavior at Work: IV
Narcissistic behavior at work is more damaging than rudeness or egotism. It leads to faulty decisions that compromise organizational missions. In this part of the series we examine the effects of constant demands for attention and admiration.

April 4, 2018

A Mustang GT illegally occupying two parking spaces at Vaughan Mills Mall, OntarioNarcissistic Behavior at Work: III
People who behave narcissistically tend to regard themselves as special. They systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this part of the series we consider how this claimed specialness affects the organization and its people.

March 28, 2018

A tangle of cordageFour Overlooked Email Risks: II
Email exchanges are notorious for exposing groups to battles that would never occur in face-to-face conversation. But email has other limitations, less-often discussed, that make managing dialog very difficult. Here's Part II of an exploration of some of those risks.

March 21, 2018

Three gears in a configuration that's inherently locked upFour Overlooked Email Risks: I
Working together to resolve issues or make decisions in email is fraught with risk. Most discussions of these risks emphasize using etiquette to manage emotional content. But email has other limitations, less-often discussed, that make managing email exchanges very difficult.

March 14, 2018

Donald Trump, as a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President in 2016Is It Arrogance or Confidence?
Confusing arrogance and confidence can cause real trouble — or lost opportunities. What exactly is the difference between them?

March 7, 2018

George Orwell's 1933 press card photo issued by the Branch of the National Union of JournalistsNarcissistic Behavior at Work: II
Narcissistic behavior at work threatens the enterprise. People who behave narcissistically systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this Part II of the series we consider the narcissistic preoccupation with superiority fantasies.

February 28, 2018

Daffodils of the variety Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'Narcissistic Behavior at Work: I
Briefly, when people exhibit narcissistic behavior they're engaging in activity that systematically places their own interests and welfare ahead of the interests and welfare of anyone or anything else. It's behavior that threatens the welfare of the organization and everyone employed there.

February 21, 2018

Prof. Tom PettigrewThe Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable.

February 14, 2018

OverwhelmedHow to Get Overwhelmed
Here's a field manual for those who want to get overwhelmed by all the work they have to do. If you're already overwhelmed, it might explain how things got that way.

February 7, 2018

Capturing ideas in a brainstormNine Brainstorming Demotivators: II
Brainstorming sessions produce output of notoriously variable quality, but understanding what compromises quality can help elevate it. Here's Part II of a set of nine phenomena that can limit the quality of contributions to brainstorming sessions.

January 31, 2018

A serene mountain lakeNine Brainstorming Demotivators: I
The quality of the output of brainstorming sessions is notoriously variable. One source of variation is the enthusiasm of contributors. Here's Part I of a set of nine phenomena that can limit contributions to brainstorm sessions.

January 24, 2018

Passing the baton in a relay raceUnderstanding Delegation
It's widely believed that managers delegate some of their own authority and responsibility to their subordinates, who then use that authority and responsibility to get their work done. That view is unfortunate. It breeds micromanagers.

January 17, 2018

A voltmeter with a needleHigh Falutin' Goofy Talk: II
Speech and writing at work are sometimes little more than high falutin' goofy talk, filled with puff phrases of unknown meaning and pretentious, tired images. Here's Part II of a collection of phrases and images to avoid.

January 10, 2018

Tree rings, "documentary" evidence of past environmental conditionsOn Reporting Workplace Malpractice
Reporting workplace malpractice can be the right thing to do. And it's often career-dangerous. Here are some risks to ponder before reporting what you know.

January 3, 2018

The squash harvestPolychronic Meetings
In very dynamic contexts, with multiple issues to address, we probably cannot rely on the usual format of single-threaded meeting with a list of agenda items to be addressed each in their turn. A more flexible, issue-driven format might work better.

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