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You know all the glowing reviews about the Showtime docu-series “Couples Therapy”? It’s well deserved. Over the weekend I binged both seasons and came away with insights about myself, my marriage, and Rebels at Work.

Forming trusted relationships is foundational for Rebels to get people to buy into new ideas or commit to changing behavior. Without that, nothing happens. We all know that. Yet we get triggered or trigger others and we say things and do or don’t do things that stall progress, sabotages our credibility or frustrates us so much that we quit. Kind of like what happens in our marriages.

So I paid close attention to wise clinical psychologist Dr. Orna Guralnik as she counseled clients and reviewed client situations with her clinical advisor, Dr. Virginia Goldner. Some highlights relevant to us as Rebels at Work:

“When people get anxious about change, they tend to restrict.”

So many of us Rebels love experimentation, new approaches, and change. It’s a good reminder that change makes other people anxious. Part of our work has to be alleviating this anxiety or else we won’t get support. Things that alleviate anxiety at work: research, experiments, being willing to be held totally accountable, demonstrating how an idea supports an important organizational goal or value.

“Everyone has a valid point of view deeply rooted in something that matters to them.”

A huge Rebel mistake is to dismiss someone’s opinion (or, worse, publicly embarrass a person.) A huge Rebel skill is to find out what matters to people in the organization who are likely to stop us or help us, particularly the Bureaucratic Black Belts. A great line in “Couples Therapy” is when Dr. Guralnik is wondering about a patient’s state of mind, and Dr. Goldner redirects her. He’s not confused, Goldner says. “He’s reporting the vicious facts of life as lived by him.” Sometimes people at work aren’t confused by our situation assessments and proposals. They’re objecting to the situation based on their experience and point of view.

“It’s the small acts and gestures that build trust.”

In a marriage or a work relationship, the small everyday things we do and say earn trust. To be an effective change-maker, we first need to be trusted. Some trust can come from technical knowledge, but deep trust comes from the small things at work like doing what we promised, volunteering to take on a necessary but dull project, sharing helpful information, giving a heads up about a potential problem, acknowledging something a person did really well.

“Hold our judgments lightly.”

We’re often wrong, especially those first impressions. Stay open, observe, ask good questions.

“Whatever triggered you about the other person is a source of interesting information about yourself and about who they are.”

When we pay attention and build this awareness of ourselves and others, we can better navigate relationship challenges. It’s this kind of data that helps us grow our Emotional Intelligence, an essential competency for Rebels.

“There will be crises and disappointments. These shouldn’t be a reason not to commit. What we do need to commit to is bringing kindness and compassion in helping one another during difficult times.”

Maybe a value in all organizations should be:

“We recognize that change and growth are necessary, never go smoothly, and people will feel frustrated and disappointed.

We will be kind and compassionate with one another, especially when we take risks and things don’t go well.”

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