Confusion is a good thing

by Nov 1, 2016

Organizational culture change can feel like a big undertaking. But, if you break it down into little steps, it becomes more doable. It’s something that happens over time, little by little, one step after the other.

Now, one required ingredient of culture change is confusion, or more specifically, cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance happens when your mind and your actions don’t match.

Here’s a simple example: Your mind says you value time (your own and others), but you arrive late to a team meeting. Then you experience cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is very stressful for us and we’ll do just about anything to relieve it. That means we’ll either change our thoughts, or change our actions, so the two can align.

You’ll either convince your mind that your tardiness isn’t doing any harm or that it was absolutely necessary in that scenario, OR you might make a point to change your actions and be on time in the future. Either will solve the cognitive dissonance.

If there is bullying in your workplace, some might think it’s normal because they’ve been around bullying, or been engaging in bullying, for a while now. Their mind says it’s normal, so they engage in bullying or have convinced themselves it’s normal in order to align their mind and actions.

Others might think it’s not normal, and they are caught in the hell of cognitive dissonance every day at work. Their mind says bullying isn’t okay, yet they endure it day after day. Their mind and actions don’t match.

Start asking your employees to engage in positive action items and cognitive dissonance will work to your advantage. Those who bully will be forced to act in positive ways that go against their mindset, and they will have to shift their mindset to match their new positive behavior in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance.

If they don’t shift their mindset, then they will no longer thrive in your new and improved positive culture. One client I worked with had two “bullies” quit when they realized this culture change was for real.

Those who do not bully will of course welcome the positive change. Your initiative will relieve their cognitive dissonance and they will be forever grateful.

Learn more about the ins and outs of solving workplace bullying by attending my two-day intensive course. Click here to fill out an application.

The course will take place here in San Diego, CA, on December 5 and 6, 2016, from 8:30 to 4:30 each day.

Half of the seats are already gone, so claim your spot ASAP by filling out the application.

Anyone who wants to learn how to solve bullying can attend – internal HR professionals, external consultants, attorneys, EAP’s, workplace violence experts, risk management experts… anyone.

I’ll be teaching Jedi mind tricks (ok, no interplanetary tricks, just human skills) to get cognitive dissonance working for you, and other strategies that will literally transform your company culture. Hope you can join me.

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Civility Partners
Your partner in building a positive workplace so your employees can thrive

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Your Culture Matters as Much as Your Legal Compliance

Legal compliance serves as the bedrock of any organization. While it lays the foundation, a positive workplace culture breathes life into your organization. A strong, supportive culture fosters employee engagement, boosts morale, and enhances productivity.  This...

How We Create Respectful Work Cultures

For the past 15 years, we have been dedicated to transforming toxic workplace cultures and fostering positive environments through executive coaching, corporate training, and large-scale culture change projects. We’ve serviced over 250 clients and their thousands of...

42% of employees would QUIT over political disagreements

Is it appropriate to restrict employees from expressing their political views at work? On the one hand, you want people to feel free to express themselves. But then, you don't want those water cooler chats to turn into full-blown political showdowns. According to a...

Why Retaining Top Talent is More Difficult Than Ever

Finding and keeping great employees can be tough for companies all over. With changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology, and shifts in the job market, it's a real challenge. In 2019, a whopping 42 million U.S. workers alone said "so long" to their...

Can Your Corporate Culture Influence Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is a serious concern for organizations worldwide. While there are many reasons why it happens, one thing that doesn't get enough attention is the company culture itself. How people act and treat each other at work can make violence more or less...

How to Utilize Culture Surveys for Cultural Change

Surveys are a wonderful resource for measuring the success of culture change. Many clients approach us with the awareness of a cultural problem…but an inability to identify the cause. And that’s where we step in, often using survey scores as an identifier.  Let’s take...

Microaggressions Can Become Part of an Organization’s Culture. Here’s Why

We're talking a lot about making sure everyone feels included and respected in the workplace. But sometimes, it's not the big, obvious stuff that makes people feel excluded and disrespected - it's the little things. We have likely all experienced situations where...

5 Unfair and Discriminatory Hiring Practices That Go Unnoticed

Businesses that prioritize diversity in their workforce significantly increase the likelihood of fostering creative and innovative thinking among their employees by 150%. Also, companies with a lot of different ethnicities and races in their management team are 35%...

How the Lack of Training Affects your Organization

The workforce is the heart of any thriving company. However, without proper training, employees may find themselves ill-equipped to meet the demands of their roles effectively.  Millennials think learning and growing are important reasons for joining a new company....

Why it’s Getting Harder for Some Women to Report Harassment

The United Nations Women found that about 1 in every 3 women has been sexually harassed at work. 3 out of 4 of them never report it to a manager, HR or anyone else. Imagine a world where every woman is treated with the respect and dignity she deserves. Unfortunately,...