Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

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Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2015 Brian Remer
Updated Dec. 2015

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

December 2015 - Get the Feeling: Don't wait to choose your mood

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

"There's no snow," moaned my daughter. "It doesn't feel like Christmas!" With balmy temperatures and a week of rain, even the holiday lights looked mud-streaked and dingy. It did not feel like Christmas. My friend Dave said, "I loved the magical feeling of Christmas as a kid. But that feeling has passed. Now I realize that Christmas felt magical because of what other people were doing."

When we don't feel "in the mood" we become disappointed, discouraged. We forget that situations change only when we act.

If we start acting like "Christmas" the feeling will come.

 

 

Discussion
You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.

Interpretation
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

There's no question that we affect one another's moods. The sour state of one person can drag like an anchor on a whole team. Mirror neurons help explain it. Research shows that when we see another person's emotional state, the same neurons fire in our brain as when we have that emotion ourselves.

But if being in the presence of someone who's depressed can bring us down, being around someone who's positive will bring us up. The trick is turning from one to the other!

One simple way to flip the mood is to express appreciation. Sharing one positive quality or action with a negative person can begin to make a difference. Expressing appreciation is good for individuals and organizations. U.S. Department of Labor data shows that the number one reason people leave their job is that they do not feel appreciated. (Noelle C. Nelson, author of The Power of Appreciation in Business)

What makes it so difficult to express our appreciation to one another? Here are a few ideas:

Biology - Scientists who study the brain confirm that we are hardwired to look for danger. This, they say, is adaptive. It keeps us out of trouble. We are also wired for social harmony, especially with people who are most like ourselves. Expressing appreciation to them strengthens relationships. But at the same time, we are naturally averse to showing the people less like ourselves that we appreciate them.

Pride - It takes a humble person to admit they have been assisted by someone else. If I demonstrate that I can juggle appointments, projects, and people all by myself, I must be a pretty incredible person. Concede that I had a little help? Forget it!

Status - It's also difficult to give kudos to people lower on the organizational chart, especially if they are paid less. If someone who deserves appreciation is lower in status, why should I risk my standing by acknowledging their contribution? (See Biology and Pride)

Media - Pop culture, and television in particular, seems to thrive on controversy. Sharing differing opinions is typically a good thing but creating rivalries that force all of us to choose sides is deadening. The constant tension distracts from the common ground we share which can be a source of mutual appreciation.

Productivity - We work to make or accomplish something. But sometimes we become so focused on measuring productivity that we ignore the people who did the work, the ingenuity it took to complete it, and the hurdles that had to be overcome in the process. People are just as important as the numbers.

Abundance - Studies show that wealthy people donate a smaller proportion of their income to charity than people who have a low income. When we have more than we need, we tend to become protective, worried that we might lose what we've earned. As a result, we spend our energy accumulating even more wealth and less time enjoying what we already have - and less effort appreciating those who helped us get it!

So how can we counteract these barriers that keep us from appreciating others? One solution is suggested by the 99-Word Story. With so many hindrances to appreciation, it's no use waiting to "get the feeling" from someone else. Start acting like you appreciate others now. After a few instances, your efforts will snowball until you really do feel like "Christmas."

 

Activity Idea:

Looking for an activity to change the mood in your team or organization? Click HERE.

 

Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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