Triangulation is Toxic!

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Listen Now: Triangulation is Toxic

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In this episode, I speak with Gabriela Buich, one of our talented executive coaches and consultants, and Licensed Human Element Practitioner. We speak about one of the most toxic elements in organizations: triangulation. Talking about somebody instead of directly to somebody, when you have a problem with them. She explains what it is, how it happens, what it costs the organization, and how you, as a leader, can turn it around to make your organization a triangulation-free zone.

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[:23]Intro: In this episode, I speak with Gabriela Buich, one of our talented executive coaches and consultants. She is an experienced entrepreneur, leader, and a Licensed Human Element Practitioner. Culture is always a big focus for us, and in this episode we talk about an extremely common, but extremely toxic phenomenon called triangulation – which starts with talking about people behind their back, and can lead to massive loss in time and productivity. Let’s listen in…
LAURA: I asked Gabriela to come on the show and talk with us about a topic that I’ve heard her speak on many times, which is called “triangulation.” So, I wanna throw it over to you immediately. Can you tell us what that word even means? Triangulation?
GABRIELA: I sure can. It’s when I talk to someone else about you.
LAURA: You talk to other people about me?
GABRIELA: I do actually.
LAURA: I’m sure you do.
GABRIELA: Generally, in a really positive way, actually.
LAURA: That sounds great. Okay, no, so what does that really mean. So, talking about somebody else to, wait, you said it better. Say it again.
GABRIELA: I said when I’m talking about you to somebody else. And it’s really that simple. It’s in the context of work. It’s– I’m generating some information system through being divisive by using someone else in conversation instead of going directly to you to say what I want to say.
[2:03] Laura: So, the example might be, um, I’m a leader in a company and I have a couple employees. So Bob comes to me and starts talking to me about Sally.
GABRIELA: Yes.
LAURA: Right, so that would be triangulation because Bob is not talking directly to Sally about an issue that he has with her. He’s coming to me to talk about it instead.
GABRIELA: Exactly.
LAURA: Yeah. So, okay, and I want to go with this example where I have sort of myself as the leader in the organization because I hear a lot of leaders believe that this is a good thing, this is part of their job. If Bob comes to me and he’s having an issue with Sally, then it’s my job to resolve that and do something about it. But often, what leaders do, is the very definition of triangulation. And we were talking earlier and you shared that, you know, many years ago, when you were a leader in your own company, you were guilty of the same thing.
GABRIELA: I continue to be guilty. I have to really pay attention, because even the smallest validation of someone else’s feelings about a third party is the stealth little way of gaining access to being a special role in that person’s life. So, for instance, you come to me because you want to talk to somebody else and you’re just not quite sure how to manage it. And I go, “Yeah, I get it.” Saying “I get it” is validating that there’s something about that other person that might be challenging, difficult, or whatever it is that–
LAURA: Right, that’s the message that I would get.
GABRIELA: Of course.
LAURA: So I go, “Oh, great. My leader, my leader agrees.”
GABRIELA: Yeah.
LAURA: Bob’s really difficult or Sally’s really difficult. So, um, so take me back to before you really had a clear understanding of triangulation being toxic, when you were doing the same thing that a lot of leaders are doing today. Give me an example.
GABRIELA: Oh, I absolutely believed that being a strong leader was the person that could come in and scoop up the problem, uh, involve myself in that third party’s experience, and then resolve it together. So not true, now, I realize. But just going back to that for the sake of using it as an example. Um, running teams of people often presents this. “Can you please tell so-and-so to stop?”
[4:01]
LAURA: Yeah, so let’s get specific for a second.
GABRIELA: Okay.
LAURA: We can change names to protect the innocent and the guilty.
GABRIELA: Alright.
LAURA: But yeah, get specific.
GABRIELA: Yeah, so we– I had a company where we ran teams of a dozen.
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: And they were each, independently, operating out in the field but crossed paths sometimes. And, um, because there were two different departments that worked together at times in the same arena, often there was dissention between the staff members with the managers that the companies that they were going in. So, I would get a little phone call — we were operating on two-way radios at the time — I would get a little “beep beep” and, you know, “Can you please tell John to stop that thing he does with this particular manager?” Say, “Absolutely. I got you. I know exactly what you’re talking about.”
LAURA: And that’s that validation.
GABRIELA: Totally.
LAURA: That’s that validation you were talking about. “Oh yeah, I know, John’s a problem.”
GABRIELA: Oh, and, let’s talk about this whole thing that it gave me. This whole, “Oh yeah, you know, I can handle this situation. I’m the power being here that can come in and fix, repair, solve–”
LAURA: “I’m competent. I’m competent. I got this.”
GABRIELA: “And I’m significant. Let’s be clear. I’m so important.”
LAURA: “So important. Yes, that’s right, you need me. You must include me in this. You and John can’t talk about this. You need me to be involved.” Right?
GABRIELA: Mm hmm. Otherwise known in the outside world as the mama bear.
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: Yeah, so it can serve there too, beautifully.
LAURA: See, nobody calls me that. I don’t get that so much.
GABRIELA: I’m that 6X, right? So, we can talk about that later.
[6:05]
Laura: So that reference is that Gabriela is a mother of 6, and I am a mother of none….but anyway, you may notice, as you listen to my show, that I reference feeling significant, competent, and likeable, so let me give you the background on all of that. The work of The Human Element, uses the FIRO Theory, both of which were developed by Will Schutz. Ok, FIRO is an acronym, and it’s kind of a mouthful, but it makes total sense – are you ready? It’s the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation – basically, how do I tend to relate to other people? Will used to joke that he only has 3 problems in life – he wants to feel significant, competent, and likeable. And actually, all humans want to feel significant, competent, and likeable, but to varying degrees. The work that we do focuses on helping people understand themselves and their behavior, and the ways that their behavior is driven by their desire to feel significant, competent and likeable. So…what we’re referring to here, is sometimes a leader’s interest in getting involved in employee-employee conflict, is sub-consciously driven by their latent desire to feel competent, significant, or even likeable. back to triangulation…
Laura: Okay. So, I want to play devil’s advocate and sort of sit in the space that I think a lot of leaders sit in. So, one of my employees comes to me, having difficulty with a coworker. And I think it’s my job, as a leader, to manage this. You know? Let’s– Bill, or whatever, Bill’s having an issue with John. Okay, so Bill doesn’t know how to handle John. I know how to handle John. So, I’m gonna call John, I will talk with him in a way that has worked for me. Maybe it’s manipulative, but I get him to behave the way that I want him to, and now John’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing and Bill is grateful because I have saved the day.
GABRIELA: What I want to do, as a leader, is teach each person that by being themselves and asking for what they want in any given situation, it becomes productive with somebody else. Because I’m the only one that knows what I need want. You’re the only one that knows what you need want. And between us, in order to hear that from each other, is only to be honest and straight with each other.
[8:29]
LAURA: So, part of what I’m hearing is, this approach, this triangulation, me going directly to John because Bill can’t handle him, is disempowering the two of them from managing it between them.
GABRIELA: Exactly. Yeah, it’s actually a toxin. I’m actually infusing more challenge and more difficulty by adding in my story about how they’re gonna resolve the situation. I don’t really — I don’t know their story. I don’t know the history. Maybe they’ve come to the table with years of stuff, related to each other or not, who really knows, but in order to facilitate a productive outcome for them, as the leader, I want to support them in being honest with each other. And that’s true always. I want to be honest with you. I want to be honest with each of them. If I were being a productive manager, I would have said to my first phone call, “Hey look, I can appreciate that that’s probably feeling rough. I encourage you to talk directly.”
LAURA: Okay, and so I, as the leader– again I’m gonna continue to sit in my space– Bill doesn’t know how to talk to John. So I can say, “You know what, Bill, you need to talk to John directly. Be open. Handle him yourself.” He doesn’t know how to do that so I don’t want to take that approach as a leader. What do I do?
GABRIELA: Well, this is a coaching moment. And I know I’m a coach and you’re a coach so maybe I take for granted that this is a moment where inspiring someone’s ability to have the courage to speak in truth is there, but I think every leader has this option. To just ask, “What do you want? What would be ideal for you?” “Well, I just want him to show up on time.” Or, “I want him not to judge me when I show up late.” It’s often true that the subject matter or the topic is the same and that the response for each person is just different. So it’s as simple as just asking somebody, “What would be ideal for you?”
LAURA: So part of the conversation then, it’s not just, “I’m not gonna talk to John for you. I’m not gonna manage this. You need to manage it yourself.” It’s actually taking a few minutes with Bill to help Bill get clear about what he even communicates to John so that he can make a request.
GABRIELA: Yes. What he even wants. I can help him craft the delivery. But then, too, it’s important for me to stay out of designing that and not have any kind of agenda that I’m attached to about the outcome. Because the outcome, truly as a manager, is for me to know that in the end of the day, everybody’s being productive.
[11:09]
GABRIELA: So, first of all, let me think about how much time is being spent with all of this conversation going back and forth, right? If I take myself out of it, now I’ve perhaps been able to diminish that time by half. And if time equals money, we’ve already made money because I’ve gotten myself out of the picture. But I don’t wanna get myself out of the picture completely, as a manager. I wanna make sure that I’m maintaining accountability as a manager and I know that this situation has been resolved. So, I want to say to John, “Hey look, I’m aware of this problem. I want to support you in crafting a delivery but I also want to know that you took care of the conversation.” That’s the part, as a manager, that’s important for me to support. “I’m sending you back out into the field. I’m supporting you for getting what you want, but I also know that it happened. So that there’s no residual. So that next time this situation potentially occurs, you two have now come to a productive way of resolving it without me but I know that you’re doing it well and productively.”
LAURA: And that’s that long-term focus. So, often, it would feel faster, as a leader, I can look at that situation and say, “You know what? I can sit here with Bill. I can try to pull out from him how he’s feeling and what he wants and help him get clear about his own messaging so he can be open and direct with John, but that’s gonna take too long. I don’t wanna do that. It’s gonna be much faster for me just to deal with this. I’ll call John. I’m just gonna handle this like I always do.” But that’s a very short-term focus because what I continue to do is create this unhealthy dependence of my employees on me to resolve their stuff. I was gonna use a different word but resolve their stuff.
GABRIELA: Either.
GABRIELA: So, you know what, I’ll pick up on that just a little bit. Because what I want to emphasize there is think about the time you’re using. So now we’ve been talking about the time that our employees or our direct reports are using to manage a situation by reaching out to us and then sort of hem-hawing around what it is they want to say to each other. But now, I have also taken away from my time. I have also used up some of my bottom line to try and get into this situation but there’s a huge thing here that’s kind of stealth, and that’s the payoff for me. The part about my wanting to have my shoe in on this situation because I feel so important, right? We talked about it earlier, being significant or important. Having competence as a leader means that I sort of have my shoe in on this thing in some way or another when really, truly, the pride of ownership is what I wanna use. It’s really when a manager or a leader can sit back and say, “Wow, look at they can function on their own. This is a beautiful thing.”
LAURA: Yeah. You know, one of the things that I talk to leaders about is managing, um, all of the changes and transitions associated with moving up in the organization. So, when I’m an individual contributor, I’m in there, I’m doing the work, I’m making things, and things happen pretty quick ’cause I’m doing it. And then I become a leader of other people and now I’m getting work done through them. And it’s being able to take a step back and no longer getting my sense of self-worth from doing the work myself, but rather empowering, teaching, guiding, coaching others to get the job done. So when they do things and I have been there to support them as a coach, as somebody who’s setting out a vision, doing all those things we know leaders do, I still feel good about that. And I get my sense of self-worth, I can still feel competent. So, I think about that because, as you describe the tendency for leaders to stay involved and go, “I feel competent, I feel significant because they involve me and I get to come in and save the day” well, aren’t you just as competent, if not more, when you’re actually empowering your people to do that for themselves? Which, by the way, like you said –to your point– clears me up, as the leader, to focus my time and attention on probably higher-level work, things that are more strategic, things that have a longer-term focus. And therefore, again, better ROI*, bigger impact on the bottom line.
[15:29]
Laura: And sometimes the leader is the victim of the triangulation. I asked Gabriela to speak to the ways each of us gets involved in triangulation, and then we elaborated on how the leader is often the victim of triangulation.

LAURA: So, there’s the victim in triangulation. So, if I’m the victim of triangulation, what’s happening is, let’s say you have some kind of problem or concern or issue with me and instead of coming straight to me, you go to our shared coworker and you talk to that person about me instead.
GABRIELA: Yeah–
LAURA: That makes me the victim.
GABRIELA: This often happens, actually, which is kind of interesting. Leaders are often the victim of triangulation, because we’re talking trash about our leader, right?
LAURA: Oh my gosh. Totally.
GABRIELA: This is the most common area of triangulation. “Can you believe how she showed up in that meeting, like–
LAURA: Yeah.
GABRIELA: –I mean, seriously, she called me out in front of everybody–
LAURA: Yeah.
GABRIELA: –” and, you know, stuff like that. Right?
LAURA: Or even “What was that meeting about? Why are we even in there? Why do we have this meeting?”
GABRIELA: Well that’s a good one too, right? You jump into the elevator right after the meeting and now suddenly the meeting is getting torn apart and the victim is the person who was the leader of that meeting.
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: Happens all the time.
LAURA: Okay, so that’s being the victim of triangulation. And then there’s the helper.
GABRIELA: The helper. “You know, hey, let me get with you later. I’m gonna talk to you about– I did notice what was going on in that meeting and, you know what, let’s take this after work. Let’s go grab some coffee or something.”
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: You know?
LAURA: So that would be, let’s say, um, you see that I’m having trouble with Bob and so you have had conversations with Bob and now you’re having conversations with me. Bob and I are not talking to each other even though that’s the issue. You’re the helper, though. You’re trying to help. You’re talking to him then you’re talking to me. And you’re gonna try to make it better by having these triangulated conversations.
GABRIELA: Completely.
LAURA: So, very benevolent. Feel like you’re doing the right thing. It’s that helper, but triangulation. Still toxic. Tell me about that. Tell me what’s toxic about that.
GABRIELA: What’s toxic about it is that each of our experiences with another person are just our own. What I have with you is only what I have with you. What I have with Bob is what I have with Bob. I can’t for one second describe what happens between you and Bob, even if I’m witnessing it because I’m not experiencing what’s happening in my thoughts and feelings as you are.
LAURA: It’s always your–your story. How you experience each of us and your story and your experience of what you think is happening for us together.
GABRIELA: That’s right. Through my perception–
LAURA: Right.
GABRIELA: –that has everything to do with my life,–
LAURA: Oh yeah.
GABRIELA: –my experiences, my past, whatever it is.
LAURA: All of the lenses and the filters through which everything passes on the way in and the way out.
GABRIELA: Completely.
LAURA: Yeah, so we’re actually introducing a lot of noise.
GABRIELA: Stories.
LAURA: Yeah.
GABRIELA: It’s what we call stories. The ones I tell myself, the ones I tell myself about what I’m witnessing in you, you know?
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: And environmental stories. Like there’s a collective of stories. I’ve now heard several people in the bathroom talking about this too or I, you know, met someone at the water cooler and there’s this common denominator, like I said. This poor leader is always under scrutiny, the victim, or I’m helping you, you know, to gain better access to this leader or do a better job for this leader because, you know, that kind of stuff.
LAURA: Oh yeah. Okay.
GABRIELA: So, I think it’s kind of, it’s interesting. And then the other part is the angel.
LAURA: Okay.
[18:47]
GABRIELA: Right? And the angel has your back. It’s not helping, it’s like, “Oh man, I know. I totally get how that feels. Like, I know. I feel that way too. Every time I’m near her, I walk away feeling like I’m not smart enough.”
LAURA: Okay, so this person isn’t helping, they are just connecting, they’re empathizing. What’s the motive here?
GABRIELA: Yeah, I’m not sure I would call it empathizing.
LAURA: Okay.
GABRIELA: I’m sure– I think that they’re driving the nail into the emotion of the pain.
LAURA: Oh, okay.
GABRIELA: They’re really, almost, when you think about it, when someone takes a painful experience and drives it home, it’s the biggest form of validation. It says, “Oh yeah. I’m totally right.” So now we have two rights and this poor leader stands no chance.
LAURA: So, oh man. So, what was coming out for me as you were talking about that is self-accountability.
GABRIELA: Right. Yes.
LAURA: Which is something that’s so, so important to me. It’s something that I drive home with my clients all the time and so this angel person, if I’m triangulating and I’m talking about my experience with Bob because Bob is so difficult, this angel is just driving that, “Oh, yeah. I feel the same way,” then I get to just sit and wallow in my “This is so hard for me. It’s all Bob’s fault. There’s nothing I can possibly do.” There’s no part of me that’s gonna step out of that and go, “You know what? Maybe I’m contributing to this situation. Maybe I can do something.” I just get to go, “Yes. I feel right. Thank you angel.”
GABRIELA: Thank you for saying “right.” I was just gonna say–
LAURA: Yes.
GABRIELA: –you’re just in your rightness, right?
LAURA: I’m so right.
GABRIELA: Because this is what this all about. It’s about being right and wrong. I don’t want to be wrong. I want to make sure I’m not being scrutinized. And what happens here, and the reason it happens most times, is that there’s some defensiveness going on. I’m feeling as if I’m not competent in my work or I’m feeling as if someone doesn’t like me or I’m feeling as if someone doesn’t include me all the time. I mean, some sort of trigger’s happening for me that ignites this need to have this conversation about somebody else.
LAURA: Yeah.
GABRIELA: Most people operate in right and wrong. And that’s a challenge. That means that if I feel wrong, often I’m gonna collect data that supports my rightness. And the way to do that is to enlist the support of another human being through conversation about somebody else because I’m comparing. So, now I’ve developed my own story about how right I am and I’ve got collaborators. I’ve got people that’ll come in and join me, happily, especially in an unhappy environment. So this is– we’ve taken the perspective of being a team who have challenges with the leader, let’s think about for the second what is the leader doing to contribute? ‘Cause I like that you talk about accountability. What is the leader doing to contribute to all this triangulation?
LAURA: Yeah.
GABRIELA: Well, so, me as a leader will receive information from you about somebody else and, rather than saying, “Hey, you know what, I’d really like to support you in resolving this. I don’t have your answers. What would be important to me is that you talk to this person directly and that you report back to me that you’ve had a conversation. That means that I’m holding you accountable for this problem by saying come back to me and let me know it happened.” Conversely, what happens most of the time is a leader will say, “You know what? I understand. I have that same problem. I have that challenge with her or him as well and, you know, let me have a conversation with them.”
LAURA: Yeah. That was my go to. I feel like that’s what I would hear, like, “Okay, you know, I’ll talk to that person and then maybe, you know, maybe it’ll get better.”
GABRIELA: And that just, that just perpetuates the whole triangulation. So, if you think about this kind of moving triangulation thing, in every context, as long as a conversation is being held with more than one person, not the person that I want to talk to, I’m triangulating. Boy, let me tell you, I get caught all the time. I do it with my kids even. Right? It happens in every situation where I have fear about going to somebody else. Where the leader has fear about how they might be seen. Or how you have fear about, you know, in a given circumstance.
[23:17]
LAURA: So, and I, I really do want to emphasize that point. How often this is genuinely a well-intentioned thing. You know, sometimes we hear about triangulation and someone that is caught triangulating, it’s like, “Why are you so gossipy?” Or, you know, “Why are you just talking behind peoples’ backs?” But, very often, people feel like they’re doing the right thing. They feel like this is effective, it’s productive, it’s useful, and they don’t know another way. So thank you for giving an example of what a leader can do in that situation to turn it around, create accountability in the people that work for him or her, and have them hold that direct conversation.
GABRIELA: Yeah, I think that’s true in life every day. As a leader, certainly, most predominantly and most visibly and by using that as a leadership style, one that supports people talking to each other, then people feel trusted. That– actually, that’s a huge thing. For a leader to hand it back rather than staying in the conversation about somebody else, shows that individual that the leader actually trusts you to manage your own situation. There’s this certain dynamic that I think is created with leaders, where they’re only in a helper role. “Oh, let me go when there’s a problem” rather than “Hey, can I run something past you? I want to troubleshoot this idea.” That gives permission to come in and actually talk about my problem with you, rather than bringing in another person and fishing for rightness.
LAURA: So, I wanna go back to, to what you were just saying about how it demonstrates that the leader has trust and faith–
GABRIELA: Yeah.
LAURA: –that the employee can manage that conversation and get through that difficult situation on their own. And I’m even aware of research that has shown that when leaders explicitly say that, explicitly say, “I believe that you can do this. I believe you actually can have a really productive conversation with Bob. Just be open. Make your request.” You know, whatever. Just convey, very explicitly, “I believe you can” then that person becomes so much more open and receptive to whatever the feedback or guidance or advice is. 11:44
GABRIELA: I think it creates a strength in an individual that also automatically will, without even giving any kind of instruction, start to support other team members in that same way. “Hey, you know what? I talked to them myself. I think you should go talk to them.”
LAURA: That’s great.
GABRIELA: That kind of language–
LAURA: That’s a great point.
GABRIELA: –starts to happen all by itself. It’s organic.
LAURA: Oh my gosh. That’s such a great point. Yeah, as soon as somebody said, “You know what? When I talked to Bob directly about this, it actually got way better. Why don’t you go talk to him?” That’s so validating and it’s leading by example and so that can spread in a really beautiful way.
[26:04]
GABRIELA: Totally, it’s organic, like I said. I think that the less, um, there’s this really secret sauce that people look for and it’s any kind of validation whatsoever. So, as leaders, we have to be really careful. So, when I use the language, I really think you can, then perhaps I’m creating a team that still wants to come back and get that accolade from me. And what I’m really trying to do is support a team to just manage their stuff on their own. I’m results driven. I want to see that we’re getting to the deadline. I want to see that we’re getting to our outcome. All of this stuff in between is for you to manage on your own and the more I trust you with that, the more you will.
LAURA: Tell me about how triangulation affects the bottom line in companies.
GABRIELA: Oh my gosh. Well, if we’re gonna put time equals money–
LAURA: Oh, time is money. Time is money, baby. Absolutely.
GABRIELA: Alright, well let’s just think about it for one second. Let’s just think about I’m hitting the water cooler to fill my water cup and you roll in right next to me. We’ve just come out of the same meeting and rather than just fill my cup and walk away, I engage with you for even two minutes on what that meeting was like because the leader did… called me out in front of everybody. So, I’m just trying to lick my wounds here and you’re gonna be the angel and support me and knowing how I feel, ’cause it’s happened to you before. Two minutes. We can make the assumption that the two people that went into the bathroom are also doing that. Two people who are in the elevator going to their next meeting are also doing that. The two people who are walking down the hall because their office is close are also doing that. So, here we have six people now who are taking an extra two minutes after a meeting. Not only have we taken the time, but we’ve now created a story that’s like a wildfire in the company. So there’s the toxin you were talking about earlier. That we’ve just created some kind of topic to discuss in the office and now, when each of these six people sit down somewhere, it becomes more of a story. It’s, it’s, it’s, uh, now I’m gonna talk to my neighbor because many of these offices now are–
LAURA: Open.
[28:33]
GABRIELA: –open, yeah. So, now I’m sitting next to my guy–
LAURA: Open space.
GABRIELA: “Oh, man, just walked out of this meeting…” So let’s just count these two minute intervals that are adding and, you know, compiling over the course of one day. Let’s just say, even that a dozen people who are in a meeting took two minutes each. Do the dollars and cents. Most of these people are making over 100,000 dollars a year.
LAURA: Well, and so that’s, you know, that’s real time. We’re having the conversation, we’re triangulating. But one of the things that feels really clear to me as we talk about this is that triangulation is, it has a horribly damaging effect on trust. So, so, tell me about that. Like, talk about what are all the hidden costs associated with reduced trust amongst people.
GABRIELA: Well, going back to that open environment, who knows who heard whom talking about whatever. So, I’m pretty hesitant now, the next time I go to the meeting, to even say anything because I don’t want to be called out. And I don’t want to be the victim of the next round of triangulation. I don’t want to be at the water cooler, and the bathroom, and the hall–
LAURA: Which, so by the way, and let me just say, I think when the conversation is, “Oh my god. Can you believe that he just called me out like that?” Maybe he didn’t even call them out. Right? Like, maybe the leader—
[29:55]
GABRIELA: Totally.
LAURA: –legitimately said, “You know what, Bob, I– we’re gonna hold off on that idea for right now because we’re really going to stick to these three priorities this year.” And, you know, maybe Bob just took that as, like, “Oh my god. He called me out.” That wasn’t even what happened. But when that story goes through the organization, it’s like, “Oh, no, like, leader’s calling people out.”
GABRIELA: It’s the old game of Telephone, right? How effective, at the end of the day, is the first statement? Or what does it really mean when it comes out the other end after its been–
LAURA: Yeah. So, so this story is now something that people are internalizing and saying, “Well, I’m, I’m gonna keep my opinion to myself–
GABRIELA: Completely.
LAURA: –’cause I don’t want to get called out. He got called out. He was so upset. Did you hear what he said?” Yeah, so now we’ve got people who are withholding information, they’re not giving their feedback, they’re not sharing their ideas. And meanwhile, that poor leader is probably just going–
GABRIELA: Huh?
LAURA: Hello?
GABRIELA: What happened here?
LAURA: Anybody there? One of my favorite stories actually is I was working with a CEO on helping them– helping him kind of refine and shape the core values that they had previously established at an off-site meeting, um, which I wasn’t a part of and so he was presenting it to the team and then we had a call afterwards. I said, “So, what kind of feedback did you get?” And he said, “Blinks. Mostly.” I was like, “Oh, no.” Like they all just sort of stare blankly, and blink. Like, literally, there was no input. I’m like, “That’s rough. That’s really, really hard.” For a leader to manage that. And it could all be because of this triangulation and the rumors and the gossip that are spreading about. “Well, if you disagree with this” or “If you give feedback on that…”
Laura: So, I really hope you get the idea now…triangulation wastes time and money, and kills trust, which decreases communication, and ayiyi…. are you convinced yet that triangulation is toxic to your team?
[31:52]
LAURA: Alright. Well, thank you for talking with us today about triangulation. I feel like it’s one of those words that people don’t necessarily know it for what it is, but then as soon as we describe it they go, “Oh shoot. Yeah I do that. That happens in my organization all the time.” So thank you for taking the time to explain more about what that is, why it’s toxic, and also giving some guidance as to what leaders can do instead.
GABRIELA: My honor. Thanks for having me.
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