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How to be Three Times More Productive and Valuable at Work

Download or view the infographic below.


Turn Gender Bias into Influence

Gender bias is a reality in today’s workplace. Here’s just one example: A recent study by VitalSmarts revealed that women’s perceived competency drops by 35 percent and their perceived worth by more than $15,000 when they are equally as assertive or forceful as their male counterparts. Keep in mind that assertive men are also punished, but to a much lesser degree.

This kind of emotional inequality is unfair and needs to be addressed on many levels. Now the good news: individuals can take control of the situation. In fact, we found that those who use a brief framing statement that demonstrates deliberation and forethought reduce the social backlash and emotion-inequality effects by 27 percent.

There are three basic framing statements to help reduce social backlash and the negative effects of emotion inequality. They are:

• Behavior Frame: “I’m going to express my opinion very directly. I’ll be as specific as possible.” This works because it sets an expectation and makes sure the statement that follows doesn’t come as a surprise. This frame helps eliminate the negative conclusion.
• Value Frame: “I see this as a matter of honesty and integrity, so it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand.” This frame works by giving a positive reason for the emotion. In fact, it turns the emotion into a virtue by turning it into a measure of commitment to a shared value.
• Inoculation Frame: “I know it’s a risk for a woman to speak this assertively, but I’m going to express my opinion very directly.” This works by warning observers that they may have an implicit bias. It causes them to try hard to be fair or adjust their judgement in an effort to be fair.

Expressing your intent before making an assertive statement softens the blow and helps erase some of the negative connotations associated with speaking up.

To learn more about how to turn gender bias into influence, attend Joseph Grenny’s session at the ATD Conference on May 24. For more information, go to

From the Road

Influencer 2.0 Source 1

The U.S. Women’s Ski Jump team made their Olympic debut in the 2014 Socchi Games. While they did not medal (the three members of the team placed 10th, 15th, and 21st), they had thousands of fans cheering them on, including the youngest member of the U.S. Women’s Ski team—twelve-year-old Zia Terry.

Two years ago at the tender age of ten years old, Zia was made an honorary member of the U.S. Women’s Ski team. How did this precocious youngster ascend to such a lofty honor? She jumped. Literally. Zia became a YouTube sensation thanks to her GoPro helmet-mounted camera recording her first ski jump on the forty-meter hill. The video includes an inspiring one minute and forty-nine seconds of Zia’s charming, courageous self-dialogue as she prepares to jump. It has received over 2 million views on YouTube, 1.3 million of which came within the first ten days of the video being posted.

When asked about her interest in ski jumping, Zia referenced the U.S. Women’s Ski Team website, saying, “I’ve been following my dream, like I saw on one of their web pages. It said, ‘follow your dream, not mine.’ That’s what I’ve been doing.

David Maxfield, who lives not far from Zia in Park City, UT, saw this engaging example of a brave young girl trying something new and knew we needed to include it in the new version of our Influencer Training course—Influencer 2.0. You’ll find her video in Source 1, illustrating the strategy of increasing personal motivation by “Just trying it.” Take a look at the video now and consider what you may want to “just try!”


Crucial Applications: The Great Generational Divide

A new study from VitalSmarts and the ASTD Workforce Development Community shows that more than 1 in 3 people waste five or more hours each week (12 percent of their work week), due to chronic, unaddressed conflict between colleagues from different generations.

The online survey of 1,350 subjects shows the two generations who have the most difficult time working together are Baby Boomers (49 – 67 years old) and Millennials (13 – 33 years old). When they do work together, the problems these two generations experience most often include:

• Dismissal of past experience

• Lack of discipline and focus

• Lack of respect

• Resistance to change or unwillingness to innovate

But conflict is not isolated to just Baby Boomers and Millennials. In fact, the results indicate a surprising level of incompetence among all generations to quickly and effectively solve problems through accountability discussions and dialogue.

Across all generations, 1 in 4 people admit to avoiding conflict with colleagues of a different age; or if they did speak up, they spoke in generalities and danced around the real issues. Other trends in communication breakdowns across generations include:

• Younger generations hesitate to hold older generations accountable.

• Millennials are the least confident in their ability to handle a difficult conversation.

• Older generations—Baby Boomers and Veterans (68 years old or older)—admit to losing their temper more easily with more than 1 in 4 saying they became frustrated, upset, or angry during a difficult conversation.

By learning a few skills to speak up to anyone—regardless of age or authority—people can candidly and respectfully resolve conflict and improve productivity in today’s multigenerational workplace.

Here are four skills for getting started.

1. Make it safe. Begin by clarifying your respect as well as your intent to achieve a mutual goal.

2. Start with the facts. Describe your concerns facts first. Don’t lead with your judgments about their age or conclusions as to why they behaved the way they did. Start by describing in non-judgmental and objective terms the actual behaviors that create problems.

3. Don’t pile on. If your colleague becomes defensive, pause for a moment and check in. Reassure him or her of your positive intentions and allow him or her to express concerns.

4. Invite dialogue. After sharing your concerns, encourage your colleague to share his or her perspective. Inviting dialogue will result in greater openness.

View the results of our study in the infographic below or click here to download a copy.

The Great Generational Divide Infographic


Thankful Thoughts from the VitalSmarts Authors: This Year, We're Thankful For . . .

Kerry Patterson

Kerry Patterson is coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer.


Thankful Thoughts from Kerry Patterson

This year my thoughts and thanks turn to Mr. Howard, my junior high school principal who, one semester in the eighth grade, taught our English class (filled to the rafters with hooligans and juvenile delinquents) the ins and outs of Shakespeare. He so loved the topic and shared it with such extraordinary passion that I saw for the first time what it’s like when learning isn’t a means to an end, but a delightful journey. Mr. Howard would pause and reread an expression as if sampling again from a fine recipe—reveling in the twist of a phrase, marveling at the wonder behind an idea, and embracing the written word as if it were a long-lost friend.

The very next year Mr. Marcarian, our science teacher, encouraged us to work hard and fast in exploring science subjects so that we could end early and then be rewarded with the most magnificent of gifts. He would read aloud to us from Edgar Allan Poe where we discovered pits containing precarious pendulums, and floors hiding tattling hearts, but most of all we saw that learning itself was its own reward.

I thank all of those who entered my life at key times and through their example taught me that you never become truly learned, but if you’re lucky you acquire a passion for learning. And today, I thank my partners who continually inspire me with new thoughts, new readings, new studies, new hypotheses, and most of all, with the undying belief that the cure to all that ails us lies in the next idea.


Al Switzler

Al Switzler is coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer.


Thankful Thoughts from Al Switzler

It’s a wonderful opportunity to be asked to consider what I’m thankful for. As I sit contemplating and typing, I look out the window at Mount Timpanogos (also called Timp) which overshadows our corporate headquarters. It is a spectacular mountain, with a peak that rises to 11,749 feet, more than 7,000 feet above the valley floor. I have viewed this mountain frequently, so much so that it caused me to wax semi-poetic some few years ago. In this poem is a theme of gratitude.

See This Mountain Rising
See this mountain rising
For eons it has risen
Once fish swam in its shallows
And crabs as bright as cinnamon
Clicked across its sands

See this mountain risen
Its summit still ascending
With mass and might, it’s looming
More present than the fullest moon
It too moves the tides

With its pushing and its pulling
The peaks control the seasons
Winter’s bone-white freezing
Spring’s new green and growing
Summer’s snowmelt seeping
Autumn’s gold and glowing
Spilling to the valley floor

And this mountain moves these tides
No more than it moves me
In the power of its presence
Like the highest hawk I soar
Circling and ascending
I see and see again
Then carefully unfolding, my heart opens
And I sing

In this ebbing and this flowing
In this soaring and ascending
I see creation’s making
I feel the maker’s markings
Cleansed by this mountain’s breathings
I shed my wounds and worries
And I am filled to overflowing with
Gratitude and awe

In that same spirit, I am so grateful to be engaged in a work that makes a positive difference in people’s lives. I’m thankful to be working with colleagues here and all over the world whom I love—colleagues who have hearts as big as Mt. Timp. I am full to overflowing for people who reach out to make the world a better and safer place.

And to my wife and family, who make my world a place of love and meaning. For all of these, much gratitude.


David Maxfield

David Maxfield is coauthor of two New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything and Influencer.


Thankful Thoughts from David Maxfield

I have so much to be thankful for, much of it very personal: my wife, Kathy, my mom, my sisters and brother, and my wonderful in-laws—especially my mother-in-law, Maureen. But this note should relate to our purpose here—working with individuals and organizations to create change for good. So, I’ll focus on three groups I’d like to thank.

First, thanks to all of you who speak up when you see problems, instead of saying “It’s not my job,” or “What can I do?” Thanks for speaking up frankly and honestly and with respect when others are sitting on their hands or holding their breath. When you speak up, you make it safe for others to speak up as well.

Second, thanks to those of you who use our skills—Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, Influencer, or Change Anything—to create change for good. We are just a small company in the intermountain west, but thanks to you, we feel we are making a difference across the world. We witness you saving lives by improving workplace safety and patient safety; changing lives through effective teaching, case management, and healthcare; and improving lives by making your organizations more effective and humane. Thanks!

Finally, I want to thank all of you who help me stay on track. Your candid feedback, accountability discussions, and crucial conversations are often inconvenient, distracting, and a pain in the neck—but they are also absolutely essential. I appreciate them all—sooner or later.

Thanks y’all!


Joseph Grenny

Joseph Grenny is coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer.


Thankful Thoughts from Joseph Grenny

My heart is very full as I look back on 2012. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for intimacy, inspiration, meaning, and community.

I’m grateful for the profound intimacy we share at VitalSmarts. I experienced it this year as we rallied around a young colleague who was struck with a chronic disease. His willingness to include us in his experience has deepened our relationships with each other. I experienced it when another colleague who struggled with infertility for many years finally gave birth in a miraculous way that drew us all together. I have felt waves of joy so many times as I think about the shared journey many of us have had with her.

I’m thankful for the inspiration that comes when we dedicate ourselves to worthy purposes and embrace important human problems. This past year, my colleagues and I have worked on an experiment in applying Change Anything and Influencer principles to help some in desperate poverty profoundly change their economic prospects. I sat in the shell of a building with Raul who was destitute and surviving by selling cast-off items in Oaxaca, Mexico. Last week, I wept when I learned he has purchased an oven and begun a bakery business as a result of the work we are doing. As we’ve put our minds to this important effort, we’ve felt inspired with ideas beyond our abilities. I humbly acknowledge the Source of that inspiration.

I’m grateful for meaningful work. As I write this, I’m in the U.K. where I heard a half dozen talented leaders describe how they’re using Influencer to improve their workplaces, save lives, be better stewards with tax dollars, and much more. Being a part of a work that literally touches every part of the globe fills me with a sense of purpose that makes me feel overwhelmingly blessed.

And finally, I’m grateful for each of you reading this. You are part of the community that I cherish. I feel so uplifted when I meet so many of you in my travels around the world. Please know that the brevity of our occasional contact is accompanied by an enduring sense of love and appreciation for you and the good you do in the world.


Ron McMillan

Ron McMillan is coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer.


Thankful Thoughts from Ron McMillan

At this season of giving thanks, I am indeed frustrated by our newsletter editors limiting me to three hundred words. Three hundred words! I need at least three hundred pages to fully express my thanks. But they’re the bosses, so whadaya gointado?

I’m thankful for life and the marvelous experience of loving and learning and feeling sad and glad. I’m thankful for my family: my wife’s unconditional love, my children’s magically unique lives and contributions, my grandchildren’s wet kisses and simple needs. I’m thankful that I live in this country where we’re free to become who we choose and vote to choose our leaders, free to argue, disagree, share, learn together, listen, not listen, create, dance, sing, make mistakes, forgive, and be forgiven. I’m thankful for the love of God.

I’m thankful that I can make a living by loving and giving to others: I get to study and write, and teach and watch, and listen and learn, and travel and serve, and edify and be edified. And oh the amazing people I’ve met!

I’m thankful for our readers and clients and their eagerness to improve and make things better. I’m thankful for the VitalSmarts community who studies the sciences of human behavior and joins with us to train others and in doing so blesses so many lives.

I’m thankful for our partners around the world who have translated our work into their languages and cultures and taught thousands upon thousands, making the world smaller and better.

I’m forever thankful for the VitalSmarts Team. They are a unique collection of genius and talent, and love and commitment, and humor and integrity. I’m inspired by their excellent work and humbled by their goodness.

I’m thankful, so very thankful.

Post a comment below to share with us what you’re thankful for this holiday season.