When We Are Our Own Antagonists at Work

It is one thing to get in our own way. Yet it is another to shut ourselves off from the possibility of learning how we do so, and thus ensure that we continue to fail ourselves.

The Dark Side of Nice

There are some really, really nice people at work. They are so nice that they remain unaware of all the damage that they do, not in what they say, but in what they do not say. We all need to look closely at the choices that we make when we choose to be dangerously nice to others.

The Open Secrets That Halt Organizational Change

Unless system members are able to name openly what they all know, and work with the fallout, there will always be workarounds, disempowerment, skulking, and a great deal of unproductivity and unhappiness. That’s an unpleasant place to live and work.


It seems simple to just work around people who are difficult, obnoxious, and self-centered at work. Yet whenever we do so, it seems that it does more harm than good. Understanding rather than avoiding these people can make a world of difference.

The Heart of Engagement

At the heart of employee engagement are the emotional experiences that people have at work. Ignoring this reality is problematic, for workers and organizations alike.

From Knowing to Doing

Now you face the choice: Do you pause, speak a moment of truth, name what is right there to be named, and invite the other to join you in making right what is wrong? Or do you stay where you are, hiding in plain sight?

The Messiness of Change

Insight into our selves opens the gate to changes in behavior ... but we still need to walk through that gate and into the light and act as if we belong there.

The Right Conversations

Getting into the right conversations means getting out of the wrong ones.

Moments of Truth

There is a simple, profound way to move from destructive relationships at work: moving toward moments of truth.

Inspect Thyself

In the Ostrich Effect, people look away from that which makes them anxious, setting in motion a sequence of events that get them stuck with difficult work situations, problems, relationships and people. This post focuses on what it means to interrupt that process. It begins with reversing the act that led them into the Ostrich Effect, that of looking away.

Signs of Stuckness

In the Ostrich Effect the problems that capture attention are acceptable; they can be admitted to, talked about and invested in. But they cannot be fully solved, not really.

Counterfeit Problems

The Ostrich Effect occurs when we look away from that which disturbs us and fasten onto something else that is less likely to trigger our anxiety. This happens at work far more than we realize. We have a moment that triggers us—our anger, guilt, competitiveness, resentment, sadness. We do not feel safe enough to openly acknowledge this, to ourselves, much less to others.

The Stories We Tell

The Ostrich Effect is marked by people looking away from the realities of tough situations. Spooked by what those realities might mean for them, they avert their gazes.

The Rock and the Hard Place

In difficult moments, we often silence ourselves because we are anxious about what might happen if we do otherwise. This is a tricky place in which to be, torn between competing dictates to speak and not speak. But when people talk directly about what they feel in the moment, emotions dissipate.

Introducing the Ostrich Effect

When people discover that I am an organizational psychologist, they often tell me that they have some problem—a crazy boss, needy co-workers, departmental conflict—that would make a "great case study." I nod and smile or offer a companionable grimace. What I do not tell them: their uniquely astonishing situation is neither unique nor astonishing.