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Bad is Stronger than Good


J: Hi welcome to Slingshot25 Shotcasts, a bite-sized podcast that will feel like an espresso shot to the brain. I’m Jackie.

C: I’m Courtney.

J: Something we’re talking and thinking about right now is this idea that bad is stronger than good.

C: What do we think about that?

J: Another way to say this is that as human beings we are all wired like this – some to a greater extent. We fear losing more than we love gaining. It’s some crazy neuroscience and it factors into so many things in our lives.

C: I think many would tell you that they want the “good.” How does this translate?

J: An example that comes to mind. I once had this experience and I bet listeners can relate to this. I was boarding an airplane for a really long international flight and I was in economy class. I mean let’s face it that’s normally how I travel. But I had been traveling a lot and so I put myself on the list to get upgraded into business class. Alas, the upgrade didn’t come through so I got onto the flight and I got all snuggled into my economy seat, and about 15 minutes into the pre-boarding, the flight attendant came up to me and said hey, Miss Pelland, we have processed your upgrade and we can move you to business class. My first instinctual response was, “Aw Man.”

C: Poor me, I had to be upgraded to first class.

J: It wasn’t really about that. It was about… now I’ve got to pack up all my stuff and I have to move, and it was just his idea that my immediate response was I have to give something up. Now, I’m no dummy, of course, I took the upgrade and I flew in business class that day. (Lucky me!) I think it’s an important lesson for us to understand that our brain will play this little trick on us, that we will fear losing more than we love gaining.

C: Yeah, I love it. So, from a change perspective it has huge consequences for us. I think we should call change management, Loss Management. 

As a leader, if you look at the things you’re doing in your organization and how they’re impacting your people through the lens of “It’s my responsibility to help them get through whatever it is they’re losing.” Leaders need to understand this to manage it. Because most think they are doing something great they’re going to love it. It doesn’t matter. They have to go through a loss first, because all change is a threat to people. Even getting upgraded to First Class – for a split-second it’s a loss. That’s what you’re managing, that’s what you’re caring for people through. 

And the more you do that, the more you see that as your responsibility… like, I’m here to help them get over that, the better job you’re doing to lead them my people through it.

J: I like that. So that really makes me think about often times when there’s a change happening in an organization, we lead really hard with the benefits of the future state. I think what I’m hearing from you now, Courtney, is it’s great to go ahead and state those. Let’s go ahead and state the benefits of the future state, but don’t lead too hard with that, don’t ride that horse too far, in other words. Because, we must first deal with the idea that there’s still something that people are giving up and they need to process that first.

All right, well I think that’s all we’ve got for this episode but we always have a lot more to say about anything we talked about. So, if you want more please drop us a line at Until next time…

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