“The end of the world” approach
The book “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is the collection of essays and ideas about work culture and ethics, which come from their experience running Basecamp / 37signals.
One of my favorite essays is “No Big Deal or the End of the World?” (available for free on Jason Fried’s blog). It brings the story of Jean-Louis Gassée, the former executive from Apple. When dealing with people who have trouble, there are two approaches you can take:
- “It’s not a big deal”
- “It’s the end of the world”
Whichever approach you take, they will choose the other.
Here’s an example from my life.
- At work, I made a mistake. I didn’t notice it, so I didn’t have a chance to fix it. My boss let me know about it. It sounded serious. I mean, I read the message on Slack in my head with
the voice of Brain Cox performing Logan Roy from Succession.
. It couldn’t have sounded any less serious.
- From my perspective, it wasn’t the kind of “the end of the world” error. Just a minor mistake. I could have had an attitude, “it’s not a big deal”. That was my primary thought.
- Fortunately, I didn’t follow that path and didn’t listen to my lizard brain, which prompted “fight or flight” solution.
- I took a token, “it’s the end of the world”. I acknowledged the fact, treated it as serious as my boss had done, and offered a set of possible solutions. It turned out, it indeed hadn’t been that serious and that urgent, as my boss later confirmed.
Why does it work for me?
- It may sound like I want to outplay someone with this approach, by not being sincere. No, it’s not a cunning way to trick someone and win the argument.
- It’s about showing understanding, respect, and empathy to a person. That’s inline with me and my approach.
- Beside the fact it’s coherent with my values and I feel good, when going that direction, it’s also effective. It brings calm, and when the feelings and emotions are on the steady level. Definitely, it’s easier to communicate that way.
If you find it attractive
If you find this idea attractive, here are more from the authors
- Jason Fried’s personal blog
- David Heinemeier Hansson’s personal blog
- It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. Fried, Jason; Hansson; David Heinemeier. Harper Business. 2018.
- Rework. Fried, Jason; Hansson, David Heinemeier. Crown. 2010
- Remote: Office Not Required. Fried, Jason; Hansson, David Heinemeier. Crown. 2013
- Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application. Fried, Jason; Hansson, David Heinemeier; Linderman, Matthew. LL. 2006
- Shape up. Ryan Singer
Written in Difree | Graphics thanks to #dalle