41. Introvert Boss Struggles + A BossScript for Constant Complainers

Episode 41: Introvert Boss Struggles + A BossScript for Constant Complainers (Summary)

How does a reserved, introverted new supervisor overcome his lack of confidence? And what do you say to that employee who constantly complains, throws a fit, or is obviously miserable? There’s good stuff ahead now, on Boss Better Now…

Links:
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
To hear more from Joe Mull visit his YouTube channel​.
To learn how to invite Joe to speak at an event, visit ​Joemull.com/speaking​.
To check date availability or to get a quote for an event, email ​hello@joemull.com​.
To explore options for coaching from Alyssa Mullet, visit ​Joemull.com/coaching​.
For more information on the BossBetter Leadership Academy, visit Joemull.com/academy.
Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
To leave comments, ask questions, or to message us visit our Boss Better Now Podcast Facebook Page.
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Transcript – Episode 41: Introvert Boss Struggles + A BossScript for Constant Complainers

Joe:
How does a reserved, introverted, new supervisor overcome his lack of confidence? And what do you say to that employee who constantly complains, throws a fit, or is obviously miserable? There’s good stuff ahead now on Boss Better Now.

Alyssa:
You’re listening to Boss Better Now. Please welcome speaker, author, and certified MBTI practitioner, Joe Mull.

Joe:
Hola, mi amigos! Buenos Dias! Como Estas? I’m not sure if you can tell, but I just returned from a few days in the sun in Mexico. And I cannot say enough good things about the kindness and the hospitality of the wonderful people we met there. I hope each of you listening had a chance to get away this summer or in recent weeks to try and recharge as we did. And I certainly hope that your getaway included as much hospitality, homemade guacamole, and Pina Coladas as mine did. And so, with that, please welcome mi amiga, my cohost, professional coach extraordinaire, Alyssa Mullet. Hello, my friend.

Alyssa:
I think we should’ve had maracas after that then like follow it up with some surround sound of maracas. I don’t think we have that in our deck.

Joe:
Like some mariachi music or something.

Alyssa:
Yes. Uh, I, I was with you with the guacamole, but the pina coladas…no, sir. I’m a daiquiri girl.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Alyssa:
And then whatever else is the specialty of the house.

Joe:
Yes!

Alyssa:
So, if it’s some kind of other like amazing thing, I’m going to try that. Um, but no, on the pina colada, I like coconut just not that. Yeah.

Joe:
Yeah. Well, well, they had what they called the drink of the day.

Alyssa:
Oh. Ok.

Joe:
And I’m not a big drinker. Anybody who knows me well knows that I don’t really consume often. Um, but in a lot of these places, it’s basically dessert in a glass.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Oh yeah. Uh-huh.

Joe:
It’s not like I’m, I’m not a beer drinker really, by any measure. And each day…

Alyssa:
We could not be more opposite.

Joe:
Right? I know you’re; you’re fermented. Everything in your world is fermented. And I’m like, add sugar. Can I have some more sugar with a side of sugar? Right. That’s part of my issue, but they would have a drink of the day. And so, you’d be sitting by the pool and then the people would come around and be like, would you like try the drink of the day? And it was these most ridiculous things you’ve ever seen. There was one called the, uh, Viva Mexico. And the drink was literally red, green, and yellow. Like the flag.

Alyssa:
Oh cool! Yeah!

Joe:
It was beautiful and it tasted amazing, and they had electric lemonade and they had Caribbean punch. We were like, yeah, sure. We’ll try that. Great.

Alyssa:
That sounds amazing. I am…and maybe our listeners who didn’t get, you know, the… the vacay in that context, like me, will also concur, jealous as hell right now.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
We are jealous, but we will live vicariously through the little tidbits and imagine in our brains what the Viva Mexico tasted like. We will then consume an alcohol this weekend based upon our inspiration of that.

Joe:
That’s right. You know and it’s interesting because I know there are so many folks out there who have not gotten a vacation. So many folks out there right now who are still very much in the throes of a very difficult work experience or difficult things going on in their personal lives. I have to admit that I have felt guilty about talking about my trip or even just getting away. I mean, we booked it right in late June when all of the COVID numbers had seemed to really go back down, and we were on this wonderful trajectory of recovery. And then by the time we got to the end of July and August numbers were spiking again, and September was a hot mess. And so, we kind of had this pause of going, should we even do this? And, you know, with three kids under the age of 12 and wanting to keep them safe, but also knowing how many moving parts there are to having like parent coverage so that we could do something like this.

Alyssa:
Uh-huh.

Joe:
There was a total cost-benefit analysis that resulted in us going ‘We’re going to go.’.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
But coming back it is it’s… it’s… it’s I kinda noticed on the inside, I’m kind of cringing a little bit, like don’t tell anybody you got to do this because so many people haven’t.

Alyssa:
Oh, isn’t that an interesting dynamic?

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
So, then it’s like, did the vacation do what it was intended to do if you have to kind of hide in the shadow and feel this guilt and shame around it? Like, what’s that like, that’s…that sucks. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t say my jealousy to obviously, to, to shame you or to guilt you in any way, but that’s, you know, something that I can absolutely identify with and just in general terms of my life, you know, mommy shame and mommy guilt and all the rest of that stuff. So…

Joe:
Oh yeah. And, and when, when people say, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so jealous. You got to go on that trip.’ Like I’m not internalizing that, like, that doesn’t bother…I totally get it. That’s, that’s more banter and acknowledgment of, ‘Oh, that sounds wonderful.’ And most people who say that are glad that the people in their orbit get to go and do something like that.

Alyssa:
Yeah absolutely!

Joe:
Um, I don’t know. I think that it, it’s just, I continue to sort of be in awe of this life that I get to live, which has been relatively tragedy free, and I have this amazing partner and these healthy kids and, you know, I get to do this work that I love and, uh, you know, in a financially stable business…you know, it…there are lots of ups and downs, ups and downs, but I’m just incredibly grateful, like almost bordering on guilt. So there…that’s all sort of mixed in…it is sort of extreme gratitude.

Alyssa:
Uh-huh.

Joe:
And almost feeling guilty about being so blessed. Does that make sense?

Alyssa:
Absolutely. It does. We get this thing of, you know, overwhelming gratitude in trying to, you know, to acknowledge all of those things in our life. And for me, how that kind of translates generally is I have this negative habit of, I do that and then I think, okay, so when is the other shoe gonna drop?

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Like, it’s like trying to ward that off. And so, then I have to think as twice as many negative things and make it…

Joe:
To mentally prepare. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Exactly. Exactly.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
So, an interesting dynamic. I think that would be something to explore maybe on a future episode of this guilt and the gratitude and the balance of all of that, because I, I definitely think there’s, um, like some interesting tactics and strategies that we can use specifically in the workplace in how we approach those things.

Joe:
Yeah. Well, even just being…

Alyssa:
What they do to us as a professional.

Joe:
Right. Right. Even just talking about them, just doing this, just sitting, being like, yeah, I kind of, I’ve noticed this thing about myself with this little trip that we took, that I kind of feel guilty about it, but it’s, it’s, it’s guilt and gratitude in really odd overlapping kind of way.

Alyssa:
Yup.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
It’s you can feel all the things it’s all right. You can feel all the things.

Joe:
And all those things can be true. Like all of those feelings can be spot on. Like an acknowledgment that I’m getting to do some things others can’t do and an acknowledgment that it was still really important for us to do it and an acknowledgment that I’m grateful for it.

Alyssa:
Yes, absolutely. So, I want to go back if I could, to the opening.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Where I, I was very specific because I was going to mess that up then the opener, the MBTI practitioner, and I want to make sure our listeners know you, as an MBTI practitioner, was one of the first ways in which I experienced you, Joe Mull, in a professional setting.

Joe:
Oh, that’s right!

Alyssa:
So, you administered the MBTI…what are they? Assessment?

Joe:
Instrument.

Alyssa:
Instrument.

Joe:
Or assessment. Yup.

Alyssa:
Instrument. To the team that I was on. Um, and I have to be very frank and honest and say, I thought you were a damn liar, Joe. A damn liar. Um, because it came back that I was an introvert and I was like, um, no, ma’am. Nope, Nope, Nope. Look at the job I have. I am like…no.

Joe:
Look how verbal and outgoing I am. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Right?

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
So that thus began my storied history as being a covert introvert.

Joe:
Um, also your new album: Covert Introvert by Alyssa Mullet. It’s a quiet secret collection of songs that you listened to by yourself.

Alyssa:
Wow! Go to a standup comedy club tonight. You’re on fire!

Joe:
My friend, uh, thank you for acknowledging the MBTI stuff for anybody listening, who doesn’t know the MBTI stands for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Uh, and it’s an assessment and an instrument that helps us sort through some preferences we have in our personalities that are innate, that we were born with, for ways in which we take in information, make decisions where we get our energy from, um, how we prefer to, um, orient our day-to-day lives. It’s a really, I have found, powerful way to think about, uh, how we need to flex our style to work with people who are different than we are. And, um, there’s a lot that’s been written about the MBTI, especially in the last few years, it’s getting a really bad rap. And most of that stuff is crap from people who don’t understand how the instrument is supposed to be used.

Joe:
It is imperfect without question. Um, but I see a lot more good than bad in it. And so, um, for friends or, or listeners who have an interest in that sort of thing, uh, could do a little Googling and, uh, learn more about that. And we’ve, we’ve talked about MBTI dynamics on the show before, and especially introversion and extroversion, um, which is actually a perfect teeing up to the first thing that we’re going to talk about today. Um, we got, an email.

Alyssa:
Yay!

Joe:
From a listener who had a question about whether he can be successful as an introverted boss. So, let’s get into some mail.

Joe:
Alyssa, this email is one of my favorite that we’ve ever received. So, I’m going to read it to you in its entirety, and then we’ll chat. ‘My name is Tintin all the way from the Philippines, or as we like to say, Mabuhay. The literal translation of that would be ‘live’. So, you could say it kind of has the same gist as the iconic live long and prosper, but without the Vulcan hand salute. With Boss Better Now I have gained tremendous amounts of insights. I feel buoyed by light and love when I listen to you. I am mostly exposed to ideas from the old ways where employees are mere cogs in a machine. So, when I came across your podcast, my heart grew seven times bigger.’ This is the greatest email I’ve ever read in my life.

Alyssa:
Oh my God!

Joe:
‘I am here because I am filled with fervor and felt emboldened to present a question. You see, I am quite an introverted individual. And the littlest of social interactions drains my spirit. A friend of mine joked that I was already social distancing before social distancing even became a thing. Recently, I was thrust into a boss position in our family business, a gasoline station. My mother, who also works in the business is telling me that I am not really going out there in our gas station forecourt area to talk to customers or our staff. This means I do not put in much effort in running our business. I wonder if I am fit to be a boss. I most definitely care about my employees. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here listening to your podcast and writing to you. I truly hope my employees have a good life and I want them to be happy and fulfilled. But because I am very introverted, I wonder if I can ever be a good boss. I do spend more time inside the shop. I do not think I am credible at all. I have zero confidence and naturally, why would I be competent if I do not even believe in myself? I like working in our family business. Just not the bits where I have to talk to people. Haha! I don’t know. Is there a way over this? How does one believe in oneself? How does an introverted individual be the best boss that he can be? I hope this email finds you well, keep safe. Yours, Tintin.’

Alyssa:
Holy crap. How is this my life? This, um, this is my moment to go. How is this my life that I get to hear these words from someone listening to anything coming out of my mouth in the Philippines and cares what we have to say. And, whew, fills me up so much right there. I mean, uh, I got, um, I’m living in my feels. I’m trying, I’m trying to move in, move out of my feels and into the, the tactic — tactics and strategies and share some experiences that hopefully will help our dear listener, Tintin. Thank you so much for your email.

Joe:
I am buoyed by light and love by the fact that he reached out and was able to point to our show as something that is just giving him new and different ways of thinking about the work that he’s doing. So Tintin, thank you for the courage that it took to write this email, uh, and to share your struggles with us. Uh, so let’s talk about this a little bit, cause there’s a couple of things going on here, Alyssa. Um, he’s asking and talking about introversion, but he’s also asking you talking about confidence. And so…

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
How do we help Tintin take baby steps toward the boss that we know he is capable of being? There’s a foundation here in his email of deep caring and respect for the people that he is to serve in his role.

Alyssa:
Yup!

Joe:
Uh, and that’s half the battle. And so right off the jump here, Tintin, let’s be clear on something that caring is the foundation for your competence.

Alyssa:
Absolutely!

Joe:
And that caring is an indicator that you can be a great boss. You are already a great boss because that caring is innate in how you’re trying to show up. And so, let’s try to build your confidence off of that. It’s in there. Let’s just talk about some ways that we can create some habits and routines for you that allow you to do some of the things in the areas in which you feel like you’re falling short. So, Alyssa, where do you want to go with that?

Alyssa:
So, my first thing would be to again, to acknowledge his self-awareness.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Alyssa:
That is amazing. What I think we would be my first, um, tactic to try though, is to think about that in a way that is not self-judgment.

Joe:
Yes!

Alyssa:
So, we’ve crossed over the line of self-awareness, knowing, uh, what our strengths and our weaknesses are to a point of self-judgment saying, you know, this has taken to mean that I do not put much effort into business.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
And that he… he’s, he can’t, uh, be a good manager because this is the way that he’s oriented. So, I think the first thing is, is that we have to start by saying, who are you really comparing yourself here? You mentioned that you know, your mom has mentioned that you’re not out there talking to the customers or showing the staff, uh, in the ways in which was prior happening. Okay. That’s not how you are going to lead necessarily. So, I think we need to make sure that what is the goal line? What, what is it that you think a successful, a competent, a confident boss does? What are the minimum thresholds of where you’re trying to move your needle to? Because if you’re only trying to move the needle for yourself to meet your mom’s expectation as the former leader of that organization, I don’t know that that’s necessarily where you want to set your marker because you are not her.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
So, what is your definition? And then being able to communicate that idea of success, idea of caring, of demonstrating your commitment to your employees, to your customers. Communicate that to your mother, to the clients, to your employees, being able to first understand what your true idea definition of success is. And then we can talk about ways to build that level of confidence to get there. Right? And specific traps tactics to do so.

Joe:
I love this point, Alyssa, because people lead differently and how one person shows up and serves their personnel will differ than the person who came before and the person who will come after. And so, um, I think you’re thinking is spot on, uh, it’s no surprise from a coach who works with leaders of all kinds to help them be their more authentic selves, and then use that to figure out how to flex their style, to be more successful. Um, I think there’s another dynamic here too that, that we should acknowledge, which it might be culturally necessary for him to be quote-unquote out there a little bit more and to try to embrace some of those, um, more frequent exposure behaviors that, um, people are pointing out or that he seems to think are necessary. So, you know, we’ve all heard of management by walking around, you know, that visibility or executive rounding as it might be called in some other organizations.

Alyssa:
Yup.

Joe:
is an important factor in influencing people’s perceptions of the degree to which leadership cares is connected, is plugged in, has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on. And so, I guess I’m operating from a place where this is a necessary, um, piece of what he needs to do.

Alyssa:
Yes.

Joe:
And so how do we come up with some ways for him to just incrementally move closer to doing that with a higher degree of comfort?

Alyssa:
Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm.

Joe:
Go, go ahead.

Alyssa:
So, you know, I come at this from my top of my story where I said you were a darn darned liar because you said I was an introvert all those years ago.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
And so, what I have learned about myself and, um, most recently been reinforced in this book, which I would recommend to Tintin, by the way, it’s called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Joe:
Great book.

Alyssa:
Is that I was so far outside of my introverted self, right, that I burned myself out. And she compares it in the book to a rubber band, like a rubber band theory. Right? So, you keep stretching yourself as an introvert, um, to go out and have those face-to-face times, to go out and, you know, speak in front of people, like, whatever is uncomfortable and whatever is not within your general nature that becomes stretching of the rubber band.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
What, where I went wrong was, I stretched that rubber band all the heck out. And I didn’t even know that like the rubber band shape existed and so I like, you know, burned myself out because I didn’t go back to my shape. I did not recognize and realize what then brought me back into that place that filled me up, that served my energy so that I could then expand. And so, engaging in those tactics of building your energies, your reserves, what fills you up – having that alone time, uh, being able to consciously prepare to go out and prep yourself to, uh, speak with people face to face, to navigate that networking that you, that you might be required to do. That is just as important as the act itself is understanding what is going to fill you up and get you there in terms of your confidence and your competence to do that. Embrace what fills you up. That’s not anything that you should be ashamed of in terms of that introversion natural state.

Joe:
This is such a great point because if Tintin goes out and tries to be something that he’s not, he tries to be this highly visible, um, ever-present extroverted leader he’s he is going to be actually less effective than he is now.

Alyssa:
Absolutely.

Joe:
Because he’s… he’s, he has to be constantly on, right? It’s like a performer stepping on stage. You, you will drain your gas tank quickly. And then you’re just a red lining engine with no oil in it. I’ve totally mixed my motor metaphors there, but, um, I don’t understand cars! Anyway. Um, the point is you can’t go be something that you’re not, and stretching that rubber band all the way out, ends up breaking it. And so, I think your point is really well taken here, Alyssa, which is let’s figure out how Tintin can just reach for a couple of things that he knows he needs to do without reinventing himself in a way that isn’t authentic to him. And so, I have a couple suggestions for you here, Tintin, in terms of thinking about your schedule and your routines, and your habits. Uh, the first thing that I want to encourage you to do is to tune into when you tend to be most energized during the day. Um, for folks who are introverted, going out and connecting with people and, and doing extroverted things is expensive, it drains our energy. And so, if you’re going to try and do that more frequently, let’s do it at a time of day when our gas tank is fullest. Uh, for me, that tends to be in the mornings. Um, I know that if I want to be intentional about being interactive and being visible and being able to be fully present in the moment with people when I converse with them, I’m much better at that in the mornings. And so maybe one of the things that you do here, is you just start thinking about for the first 10 minutes of the day, I’m just going to walk around and chat with people and, and you treat that like a meeting, you treat that like another important, uh, task, uh, not, not, um, you know, treat them like a task, but on your agenda or on your schedule day to day or week to week, this is an important part of how I’m going to lead. I’m just going to go be visible. I’m going to be present. And then when you are out and about with people, uh, you can still have one-on-one conversations that don’t require you to be highly extroverted in ways that might be energy expensive for you. Um, set yourself a couple of very small challenges. I’m going to learn…if you don’t know everybody’s name, I’m going to learn everybody’s name. Once you learn everybody’s name, I’m going to learn everybody’s kid’s name. Uh, once you to learn everybody’s kid’s name. You’re going to make it a point to just ask about an interest that their kids have or that their family, oh, you know, ‘you mentioned last week that your son plays soccer or football, depending on where you live and how was his last game?’ You demonstrate caring for people by recalling the details of things that they’ve shared with you previously. That alone is a really powerful way to demonstrate that you care, um, and like it or not, people will judge your investment in the business and the effort and hustle you’re bringing to the work by how much they see. Nobody sits back and says, ‘Well, I haven’t seen him very much. So, he must be super busy and working really hard.’ Um, I mean, some people have that level of emotional intelligence, but sadly, a lot of people don’t, they think that we’re just hiding in our offices and doing less important things and avoiding the demands and stress of being quote-unquote out there.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
And so, this visibility piece is important, not just for building those relationships and helping people see that they are cared about, but to demonstrate that you are invested in wanting to understand what they’re facing on a day-to-day basis. And so that’s the last piece of advice for you, Tintin, is in the interactions that you’re having with people here and there a little bit, every once in a while, again, you don’t have to try and be something that you’re not trying to come armed with a question or two that solicits their ideas, their challenges, their feedback. You can go out to folks and say, hey, what was the hardest thing you had to deal with yesterday? I just want to make sure I’m understanding what’s going on. Or if you could change one thing around here, what would it be? Or tell me about something that happened this week that you were really proud of. And let them answer that question related to work or related to something else that’s going on in their lives. Those kinds of interactions are going to go a long way to getting you where you want to go. And people are going to describe you as a confident invested leader who cares about their people.

Alyssa:
This is like, I feel like one of those beautiful, like moments where it’s quintessential us.

Joe:
The yin and the yang.

Alyssa:
The yin and the yang. I go like gray, emotional ether, and you give great tactical strategies. And here’s the bottom line. I hope to heck that that’s exactly all of that is what Tintin needs to know and gets him there that we believe in you. We believe that you will get to that place of knowing that you are an awesome boss and that you care deeply because we felt the caring just through that email.

Joe:
Absolutely.

Alyssa:
So, thank you.

Joe:
And we want to hear back from you Tintin, let us know how it’s going in a couple of months. Did, did any of that work? Uh, or were we full of crap? Uh, and if that’s the case, we’ll, we’ll get back with you. We’ll figure out something with you. All right? Um, well, what about you BossHeroes? Do you have a question? Do you have a struggle? Do you have a problem? Send us a question. How can we be helpful to you if you’d like us to address your question or problem on the show just shoot us an email over to bossbetternow@gmail.com.

Joe:
We come now to the Camaraderie Question of the Week. Alyssa, as you know, bosses build camaraderie on teams by making it easier for people to find things in common with each other. That’s why here on the Boss Better Now podcast every week we give you a question you can use at meetings, at huddles, in the hallway, at one-on-ones, at your Zooms to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. Our question this week, Alyssa, is this: What is the first non-children’s book you remember reading?

Alyssa:
So, I don’t know if this is like what your, your, uh, like timeframe goes to, but like, I go back to like my first remembrance of like, I don’t know, I guess was adolescence/teen years in like high school, what was like the biggest eye-openers for me, that’s how my brain remembers that. And so, I remembered three off the, off the bat, um, which was Flowers for Algernon.

Joe:
Oh, yeah. Good one!

Alyssa:
Did you have to read that?

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Okay. Um, Watership Down. Do you remember?

Joe:
Nope.

Alyssa:
With the rabbits?

Joe:
Nope.

Alyssa:
It was a whole…Oh my gosh. Oh, you should read that one. Or your daughter, Lily, and you should read that!

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Oh! That would be amazing. Okay. And then Lord of the Flies.

Joe:
Oh! I remember being required to read Lord of the Flies, but I think I read like the cliff notes version of Lord of the Flies. Which like that, wasn’t my thing.

Alyssa:
Oh! It all comes out now.

Joe:
I didn’t, I didn’t go get those, but I, for some reason I remember being required to read it and not reading it. Yeah. Isn’t that wild?

Alyssa:
Rebel! You rebel.

Joe:
Yeah. It was there. Did you, did you like all of those stories?

Alyssa:
No…Uh, I don’t know that I liked them. I just, I, I distinctly remember being wowed by the world of that kind of writing and thinking holy crap.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Like that creates like a whole different life in my head that hadn’t been available to me prior to reading those books.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
Is that the timeframe that you’re you’re referencing?

Joe:
Yeah. I mean, I think there’s an interesting overlap here in the question because I think some people in their youth, they come to reading before it’s mandated by school. Right?

Alyssa:
Right.

Joe:
And so,

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
Like, I remember reading a story or two, because we had library time and we were required to pull something off the shelf. And I ended up reading this book that was not a picture book that I really enjoyed, but you’re also talking about some of the mandated reading. Some people really don’t start reading stories in their youth until school or teachers require it Right?

Alyssa:
Uh-huh.

Joe:
And so, like, I remember Flowers for Algernon, but it was as part of a required reading. Right?

Alyssa:
Yeah. Yeah yeah.

Joe:
And so, but that, wasn’t one of the first that I encountered. The first book that I nonchildren’s book that I remember reading, and this was on my own, was a book called Follow My Leader by James Garfield. And it was, it was written for kind of the eight- to 12-year-old group.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
Uh, and it was about a little boy. I think he’s 12 who has an accident with a firework with fireworks and he’s blinded. And it’s the story – it’s based on a true story – and it’s, um, the story of how he learns to live with blindness through the help of a guide dog.

Alyssa:
Hmmm.

Joe:
And I, it’s funny, I’m thinking about that story now. And I’m like, man, that’s heavy. That’s kind of heavy for a little kid because.

Alyssa:
Yeah!

Joe:
Like you’re in his world of darkness when you read this book from being able to see and then not being able to see. But I remember reading it like two or three times, and I just remember really being captivated by the story. And I remember going back to the librarian and being like, I want another book like that. And not being able to find one that I liked as much; you know? Um, so I remember that one as far as mandated stories go like for the books that they required us to read. I don’t remember liking anything except one.

Alyssa:
Ok.

Joe:
I enjoyed Animal Farm.

Alyssa:
Ok.

Joe:
By George Orwell. Did you have to read Animal Farm?

Alyssa:
Yeah. Yeah. I think we got a choice in one of those.

Joe:
Hmmm.

Alyssa:
And what’s the, um, hold on… I’m going to remember after we stopped this episode, uh, Tom it’s by Tom Wolfe. I think I…is that who it is? I can’t remember. I’m not going to remember. Oh,

Joe:
Okay.

Alyssa:
Cliff notes. I’ll, I’ll figure it out later. Maybe I’ll put it in the show notes. If I can remember. Tell Jamie. (NOTE: Alyssa remembered the book was The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.)

Joe:
The, uh, required reading book?

Alyssa:
Yes, I can. I know we got a choice, so I don’t think I read Animal Farm.

Joe:
Ok.

Alyssa:
I think I read a Tom Wolfe book, but in any case, did you like Animal Farm?

Joe:
I did! And I remember that I liked it because it was one of the first times that I could see like bigger themes or patterns from the story and that it was like an allegory in some way for leadership and group think. I didn’t have the vocabulary for those words at the time.

Alyssa:
Hmmm.

Joe:
Cause I think this was probably early high school.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
That we were reading these stories, but it was one of the first time were okay, this isn’t a story about talking animals. This, this is a story about bigger themes and ideas. And I could see parallels to the world that we live in, and I enjoyed kind of deconstructing that stuff in the classes that we were in.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Yeah. Ditto. I agree. All right, cool. That’s an awesome question. Are you trying to Google?

Joe:
I Googled the, uh, right now I’m Googling the Tom Wolfe literary list here and it’s Bonfire the Vanities and uh, The Right Stuff. Is this the Tom Wolfe that we’re talking about?

Alyssa:
No. I’m…

Joe:
There’s a book by Tom Wolfe called Hooking Up. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the one that you read.

Alyssa:
No.

Joe:
Or maybe it wasn’t Tom Wolfe at all.

Alyssa:
It’s probably wasn’t it probably wasn’t. I’m probably like joining two things together. My husband will remember because he’s read several of this author’s books and it’s Tom something.

Joe:
Narrows it right down. All right. And we’re going to have you circle back to us on that later, you’re going to come back and like three episodes and be like, ‘I figured it out!’ And that’s the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

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And an amen. See, like I said,

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Joe:
All right, Alyssa, we come out of our book discussion, and we will look forward to hearing about whatever it was that you like by Tom.

Alyssa:
It’s probably not even Tom.

Joe:
Right?

Alyssa:
Because I’m Googling and it’s not…

Joe:
You’ll come back and be like ‘It was Shakespeare!’ Right?

Alyssa:
Ridiculousness!

Joe:
Well, we come out of that conversation, um, with a BossScript. And it’s one that I have given out a lot over the years as a conversation starter. So, let’s talk about a BossScript for your crabby or disgruntled employee.

Joe:
So unfortunately, I’m certain that a lot of the BossHeroes listening to our show have had to navigate members of their team who just don’t show up with any kind of recurring level of happiness. There are patterns of complaining, right? If you have a constant complainer, um, someone for whom, whatever you do to try and solve their problem, they just bring you another problem. And it’s never good enough. Um, someone who is toxic or abrasive, uh, someone who is unhappy with the performance of other people on the team. Um, I have a lot of conversations with folks about what, what do I say to the person? What kind of feedback can I give them about their constant misery or dissatisfaction? And so, I have found that there is a question that I like to use at the very beginning of these conversations. And that question is this: Are you happy here? And so that’s our BossScript for this episode. I think when we have folks for whom there is a pattern of unhappiness or dissatisfaction, we can get caught up in the specific circumstances of that unhappiness. So, if somebody comes in and they’re unhappy with their schedule and then, and then they come again and they’re unhappy with their pay. And then they come again and they’re unhappy with their duties. And then they come again and they’re unhappy with, um, the…training or they’re unhappy with the decision. And we get caught up in trying to debrief those individual things with people.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
Most of the listeners to this show are probably giving time to those conversations. They’re trying to help people work through those…I just totally lost the word that I wanted to use…complaints. Let’s call them complaints.

Alyssa:
Ok.

Joe:
When there may be a larger issue here, which is that this person is never going to get to a place where they’re able to operate with some kind of positive life force as a member of your team. And so, if that’s the case and we see a pattern unfolding here, I like this question as the opener to a separate conversation. And that conversation is about the pattern. So, sitting down with somebody and saying, you know, I wanted to talk with you, and I wanted to ask you a specific question and it might seem a strange question to ask, but just go with me on this if you will. Are you happy here?

Alyssa:
It’s a wide-open field of which they may find many weeds.

Joe:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
I think that it’s a great question. I think that’s also your point about this making sure that it is a pattern behavior. Right? Because we’ve also had conversations about toxic positivity.

Joe:
Yup!

Alyssa:
As a leader…

Joe:
Yup.

Alyssa:
You know, try if we’re constantly meeting each one of those, um, complaints and problems that they’re bringing to us with, you know, trying to build them up and make them happy. Right? Um, then it can be, they’re continually bringing it to us because they don’t feel heard.

Joe:
Yeah. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Because all we keep doing is telling them how they shouldn’t feel that way. Right?

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
And/or solving their problem of which they will continue to manifest. Right?

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
So, I think that there’s a, uh, uh, an important component of trying to establish their, their pattern and your pattern of response. Right? Um, and this question fits with that.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
Because then you, you can understand is their goal to actually be happy here?

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
Because there are some people for whom that’s not their in their wheelhouse to be happy, ecstatic, whatever we want to call it in the workplace and okay, that’s fine. But we’re going to establish if that’s not, if you’re not happy here, where are we going to get to a level of contentment where I don’t constantly, as your leader, have to be problem solving for you.

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
Right? Or trying to feel like I need to bring you up to this level so that you will not negatively affect the rest of the team.

Joe:
Yes. I can’t constantly need to pep talk you into a kind of neutral affect so that you can continue to show up in a way that, that doesn’t do harm to our team. And that’s what I really love about this question because sometimes the person who is constantly complaining has legitimate complaints, their needs aren’t being met.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
And you may be in a position as a supervisor where you’re powerless to fix the things that they are hoping or needing to change. And so, saying, ‘Are you happy here?’, May be an acknowledgment of let’s, let’s go macro and let’s look at this from a 30,000-foot view and say, I get that these are legitimate concerns for you, but they’re not going to change anytime soon. So, let’s have a larger conversation about whether you can stay or should stay, because I can’t change these things. But if you’re mired and stuck in this dissatisfaction, you’re suffering and it’s creating suffering.

Alyssa:
Yup!

Joe:
Versus the other group of folks where you’re sitting across from someone who just daily leans into their own victimhood.

Alyssa:
Yes. Yes.

Joe:
Yes. And no amount of accommodations or trying to debrief, or coach, or pep-talk, or problem-solving is going to move them into a healthier state of mind. And so, sitting across from that person and saying, ‘are you happy here?’ And if they say, ‘well, yes’, that actually tees you up for a different kind of conversation where you can say, ‘thank you for telling me that you are, because from what I experience, it doesn’t seem that way. And let’s talk about why.’ And then you can describe the patterns of misery and complaining, and you can shine a light on the harm that it’s doing. And you can actually start to, to ask them to think about showing up differently. If they say, no, they’re not happy here. Then you can still have that same conversation about the harm that their unhappiness is doing while acknowledging that things aren’t going to change and they need their either…they need to either come to terms with that and try to figure out a way to show up with a different affect or attitude or let’s work together to figure out your exit plan.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
But the end game here is we can’t continue as we are. We can’t continue with you displaying and sharing your misery in every direction because it’s pulling other people down.

Alyssa:
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! All of it!

Joe:
So, there’s your BossScript, folks. And that’s a conversation. I would encourage you to map out if, if, if any of these scenarios that we just brought up, uh, one of them spoke to you. You sit down and you take a blank piece of paper, and you say, my first question is going to be, are you happy here? And let it hang with a little bit of silence, cause that they may need to cook on that for a minute. Or the first answer they give you may not be, you know, deep or thoughtful, but then on your sheet of paper, you kind of map out where’s this conversation going to go. If they answer something in the affirmative, then, then what’s the next thing you’re going to say about, okay, thank you. I’m glad you are. But it doesn’t, that’s not what we’re experiencing. And let me tell you why. And you kind of map out the feedback you want to give them. And then you map out the change you want to ask for. And if they say no, or if they have an answer in the negative, then you kind of say, okay, let’s talk about whether it’s possible for the things you’re unhappy about to change and whether they will change or can change. And what’s a realistic set of expectations for where we can get based on your dissatisfaction. And then the questions you need to ask or the feedback you need to give, to try to come to some mutual understanding about what happens next. You map all that out on a piece of paper so that you are prepared for that conversation when it takes place, but it all starts with that BossScript: Are you happy here?

Joe:
All right, friends, that’s our show for this week. Remember, you can get original videos, encouraging messages from me, subscriber-only access to our training and events, breaking news, and more by signing up for our twice-monthly Boss Better Now emails. They are free and we never sell your info. It’s just another way that we try to achieve our mission of filling the workplace with better bosses. To sign up, just visit BossBetterNow.com. Thank you for being with us and thanks for all that you do to take care of so many. We’ll see you next time.

Alyssa:
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember, commitment comes from better bosses. Visit JoeMull.com today.

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