Last week I was at the CIPD NAP conference and facilitated a session with the title above. The five tips can be remembered by using the mnemonic CRUMMSS.

  • C – choice
  • R – Rewards
  • UM – Use metaphors
  • MS – Microskills
  • S – stories



In this first blog of the series, you can learn about the first of the five tips – CHOICE

C stands for CHOICE. Even when employees think they have no choice while going through major change, they can always “Choose their mood”.

IMG_5001You may know that it is the prefrontal cortex that is key to new learning, but when our limbic (emotional) systems get over aroused, we suffer from a lack of prefrontal cortex function.

Having some control gives autonomy and keeps the prefrontal cortex function. Even the smallest amount of choice can influence the limbic system arousal. It does not even matter if the control is a shift in perception rather than actual control. You can in fact “choose your mood” and therefore you introduce choice. This is called “reappraisal” or sometimes, it is what we call reframing.

David Rock1 talks about four types of reappraisal:

  • Reinterpreting – Experiencing or thinking about something that is far worse makes your problem seem smaller
  • Normalising – Accepting that what you are experiencing in terms of anxiety, feelings etc is absolutely normal
  • Reordering – The problem does not sit well within your values but you put a positive spin on the reordering of your values
  • Positioning – Same as the NLP definition – imagine you are another person or a fly on the wall observing your situation

Practicing reappraisal can help you to keep cool under pressure. This strategy, through research has been shown to have very few downsides.

On occasions people may really struggle to find a positive spin on a situation and so it may be useful to use another reframing technique:

  1. Content (or meaning) reframe
  • What else could this mean?
  • In what way, could this be positive?
  • What other meanings could this behaviour have?
  • For what purpose does this happen/does this person do this?
  1. Context reframe

In what context (or situations), can this have value or be useful?

Almost all behaviours are useful in some context.

For example, the assumption could be that something has no value, your job would be to discover the value or usefulness by asking,

  • When would this behaviour be useful or viewed as a resource?
  • Where would Z be considered of value?
  • When would it be useful to do X?
  • When might it be helpful to ….?
  • Where would …. be of interest?
  1. David Rock “Your Brain at Work”, Harper Business 2009
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