I'll be honest. I'm not handling this morning's loss well at all. The emotional feeling of disappointment is too strong.
I invested too much of myself in the prospect of a World Cup win.
I tried not to. After following New Zealand cricket for more than 40 years... I know better. Or, at least, I should.
But we came so close and now it hurts. Yes, it was a great game and, of course, I'm proud of the team.
I just need a bit longer before I can laugh about it.
Meanwhile, I've got deadlines looming and work to do.
Will throwing myself into my current project will be a good strategy for getting through?
The good news is there are experts who've done the research on this stuff and there is sound science around coping with failure.
Apparently hiding under the duvet listening heavy metal doesn't cut it anymore.
So courtesy of The Harvard Business Review here's some advice from two of the top business management psychologists in the field.
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This article is about a much broader scope of failure of course. But right now there's a few of us cricket fans who could use the advice.
KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE
In their studies, experts Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan have found that different people can see the same events in dramatically different ways.
In the workplace this phenomenon is particularly evident when it comes to failure. An outcome that an employee regards as satisfactory may be seen by his boss as entirely unacceptable. When a project ends in disappointment, colleagues disagree over the reasons why. These reactions, and their effect on workplace relationships, often become more problematic than the original event.
Using data on several hundred thousand managers from every industry sector, Dattner and Hogan have identified 11 personality types likely to have dysfunctional reactions to failure.
For example, there is the Sceptical type, who is very smart about people and office politics but overly sensitive to criticism and always on the lookout for betrayal; the Bold type, who thinks in grandiose terms, is frequently in error but never in doubt, and refuses to acknowledge his mistakes, which then snowball; and the Diligent type, who is hardworking and detail-oriented, with very high standards for herself and others, but also a micromanaging control freak who infantilises and alienates subordinates.
Look at those types and you're likely to recognise a few of those traits in your work colleagues.
The 11 types can be divided into three broad categories, which are based on the person's ability to assess anger and frustration.
Some people are extra punitive – prone to unfairly blaming others.
Some are impunitive: They either deny that failure has occurred or deny their own role in it.
And some are intropunitive, often judging themselves too harshly and imagining failures where none exist.
The underlying theme of the research is that many managers perceive and react to failure inappropriately and therefore have trouble learning from it – leading to more failures down the road.
Many of us have at some point assigned (or avoided) blame in a self-serving way, only to suffer negative fallout; on the flip side, we may take self-criticism too far, resulting in paralysis and stagnation. To foster and thrive in a productive work environment, we need to recognise and overcome these tendencies.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR STRIPES
Fortunately, managers at all levels of organisations, and at any stage of their careers, can fix their flawed responses to failure. Here are some key steps you should take:
First, it's important to determine whether you fall into one of the three categories. Several personality tests can help you assess your interaction style.
One well-established model we've found particularly helpful is the Big Five, which measures openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, along with subfactors of these dimensions. It does a good job of illuminating how you deal with failure in yourself and others.
Another useful exercise is to reflect on challenging events or jobs in your career, considering how you handled them and what you could have done better. You might ask trusted colleagues, mentors or coaches to evaluate your reactions to and explanations for failures.
CULTIVATE POLITICAL AWARENESS.
Even if you've analysed your behaviour and think that you act appropriately with respect to blame, your colleagues might disagree. Political awareness involves finding the right way to approach failure within your specific organization, department and role.
An intropunitive person might be effective at a small, highly collegial company but have to change his ways at a larger, more competitive one, where rivals might take advantage.
An extra-punitive boss who only slightly softened her criticisms when independently running a sales department might have to tone them down further when co-leading a cross-divisional team.
EMBRACE NEW STRATEGIES.
Once you're aware of your bad habits, you can move toward more open, adaptive responses.
The strategies needed can work for any of the dysfunctional types. The first is to listen and communicate. It sounds obvious, but most of us forget to gather enough feedback or sufficiently explain our actions and intentions.
Especially when it comes to credit and blame, never assume that you know what others are thinking or that they understand where you are coming from.
The second is to reflect on both the situation and the people. At the end of each project or performance cycle, think about things that might have pushed you or others into extrapunitive, impunitive or intropunitive reactions.
How did you respond? How did your colleagues? Was everyone on the same page? If not, why? What effect did situational and interpersonal factors have on the outcome?
The third strategy is to think before you act. When a failure seems to have occurred, don't respond immediately or impulsively.
It's not always possible to right the wrong, but it's almost always possible to make things worse by overreacting in a highly charged situation.
If you become extrapunitive, others may become impunitive. If you become intropunitive, others may pile on. Take the time to consider several possible interpretations of the event and to imagine various ways you might respond.
The fourth strategy is to search for a lesson. Mistakes happen. Sometimes a colleague or group of colleagues is at fault. Sometimes the responsibility lies with you. Sometimes no one is to blame. Look for nuance and context and then create and test hypotheses about why the failure happened, to prevent it from happening again.
HOW TO INFLUENCE OTHERS
Just as important as understanding your own tendencies is recognising when your bosses, peers or subordinates might fit into the categories we've outlined.
Having insight into their motivational biases and emotional reactions to failure can help you give them feedback in the right way and at the right time – feedback that increases their self-awareness and political awareness and ultimately helps them change their ways.
Handling failure and blame the right way is key to managerial success. It will not only help you see your own role and responsibilities more clearly but also help you better understand the perceptions of others.
This isn't necessarily going to make the Black Caps loss feel any better, but it may at the very least cause us to pause before assigning blame to this person or that person. And who knows, it might allow us to better process the whole mess of emotions currently buzzing through our sleep-deprived minds.
- With Harvard Business Review
-Ben Dattner, is the founder of Dattner Consulting, an adjunct professor of industrial and organisational psychology at New York University and the author of "The Blame Game," from which this article is drawn.
-Robert Hogan is the founder and president of Hogan Assessment Systems and was the McFarlin Professor and the chair of the psychology department at the University of Tulsa for 17 years. He created the Hogan Development Survey, a psychometric assessment of the personality attributes described in this piece.)