Moodscope's blog



To know and not to say = trouble. Thursday January 22, 2015

I went to work in Switzerland with a group of women on 'Deepening their EQ'. They have been together now for 3 years in a very focussed and sharing way. The organisation they are in is a prestigious one.

The 36 hour session in the mountains went very well and the disclosures they offered blew me away...things that had not been revealed in 36 months...things that had been in people's heads and not out in the open.

These revelations truly made the group uncomfortable and some people feeling very guilty.

Briefly about one exercise (after building trust for 24 hours):

Everyone writes a post-it note with some feedback for each of the others in the room in silence. They then stick them on each other's back. I explore how comfortable they feel when others can see the feedback and they cannot. When sitting at lunch they take time to then read out in front of the others what they are seeing for the first time

One participant who had taken much thought in writing down feedback for all other seven members on post-its, was tearful at lunch but didn't reveal why.

When we returned to the workshop and during another exercise, the same person bursts into tears and states that everyone had had great feedback except for her and that she felt completely undervalued – WOW!

What courage to 'dare greatly' as you could feel the room shift and the EQ deepen. Now no matter what anyone then said – to DJE (Defend, Justify or Explain) – the damage was done.
No one had really spent any time talking deeply with this person over the 36 months that the group had been together to make her aware of how they felt about her behaviour.

So...they had always been positive with her, but, not truthful, authentic and transparent.
Now all the pain was pouring out in front of their eyes or more importantly their hearts.

If we wish for a sustainable relationship in work or even family we have to live 'in the moment' and speak from our heart not our head. If two people say exactly the same thing but one does so with the intent to grow the person and one is attempting to control a situation, the first will be welcomed and the second will be refused or even rejected.

How do we speak - heart or head? How do we offer - kindness or curt? What is our intent when feeding back? How many of us do not tackle a relationship with deep heartfelt intent?
How many of us avoid the discomfort in the hope that it will get better?

If you know and don't say – you don't know and neither do they.

A Moodscope member.

Permalink  |  Blog Home


Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:13am

Your post speaks out to me. Not knowing how to talk sent my 20+year relationship down the pan. Will ponder and thank you Les. Love from the room above the garage x. Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:14am

this just about made me cry, I find I feed to others all the time, try to be really appreciative, but never hear the same for me. now im stuck in this negative mind-set trying to rebuild myself. thank for the blog <3

Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 7:05am

Really, really interesting post, Les. I feel that in this country too, we are very afraid of confronting, of speaking out but do lots of backbiting behind backs

Hopeful One Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 7:22am

Hi Les - Thanks for the post.This degree of honesty requires real courage because inevitably one is going to hear unpalatable observations of one self. We have to be prepared to face that before embarking on your exercise.Mean what you say and say what you mean is probably sums it up for me ..Interestingly there is a cultural aspect to this.When I first came to this country I came from a culture where "mean what you say and say what you mean " operated most of the time.It took me a while to appreciate that in southern England this was not always the case.I formed the opinion rightly or wrongly that in the south people did not often mean what they said or said what they meant.This helped to prevent a lot of misunderstanding for me.I then moved to the north and here I found that people generally said what they meant and meant what they said.Really refreshing.But I never forgot my southern experience.So every time I step out of London Euston station I don my southern persona and leave behind my northeren one!

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 8:15am

How about.....'mean what you say, but don't be mean when you say it?'

Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 8:18am

Not sure about this Les. Maybe a more balanced view?

I immersed myself in beliefs like yours for 25 years, it was fashionable in the 80s when I first began. In the interim my views have softened. Authenticity is important and the way in which it is approached is equally important.

The exercise you describe sounds harsh and unnecessarily hurtful and one can never be certain of the emotional strength (or fragility) of the people involved. I feel there are better, softer approaches to the issues.

Rupert Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 8:28am

Les this sounds quite harsh to me but as I think about it I can see the logic. Problem is though when the damage is done as you say isnt it irreparable sometimes and those that said it feel bad and the recipient feels even worse? Sometimes I wonder if deep down some people realy know what they are like already but cant change it and quietly live with it so saying something may not help and be bad for all. Maybe I am missing the point! Rupert

Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 8:41am

Twenty four hours is not long enough to build trust.

The implications of pinning notes on another's back - behind their back and the connotations of that - is not conducive to a positive outcome.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 8:46am

Ouch! Oh Les, that exercise sounds absolutely terrifying and I am immediately thinking about how I'd be humiliated and hurt..... but then I realise that yesterday I received an unexpected and unsought compliment from someone I would have least expected. Sometimes people don't dislike you quite as much as you think they do! Yes, I love your "Say what you mean, but don't be mean when you say it."

Hopeful One Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 9:05am

Hi Les-I like that.

Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 9:28am

A really true and thoughtful post I believe. From my experience I can say that almost
all people hurt and get hurt.It´s like a perpetual motion machine.Why we behave that way,I don´t know.Maybe to protect ourselves,but it certainly can´t be the answer to
the underlying problem as we can see in our daily world.Thanks Les!

crafty wee midden Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 9:29am

I tend to agree with anonymous( aide from finding this very difficult to get my head around, but that's my problem)....
"The exercise you describe sounds harsh and unnecessarily hurtful and one can never be certain of the emotional strength (or fragility) of the people involved. I feel there are better, softer approaches to the issues."
It just feels....odd, strange, unnecessary.

Julia Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 10:37am

Am I right in thinking that the person who was tearful because she had received negative comments about herself from her colleagues was the same one who took the most time to think and write the post it notes about her colleagues? That she wrote positive comments about her colleagues? I am sure you handled this very sensitive situation expertly Les but if I am right, I would think the "undervalued" employee has much to teach her colleagues. I think this is what you are saying.

Karen Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 10:50am

It's seems so sad, that in three years, no one had got to know this woman well enough to perhaps guide her gently away from 'her behsviour'. What on earth were these peeps saying to her in a day to day basis over that period of time...that they ciukdnt give any positive feedback? Someone has already said that sometimes we know our bad bits, so maybe she does too, but surely she had some good qualities for someone to point out? Seems a mean exercise, for some maybe. Not sure how any of us could cope in that situation! A very thought-provoking post, Les.

Anonymous Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 11:10am

I agree Julia.

I also think that it is very easy to jump to conclusions without the advantage of having all the facts at our disposal;
yes, I don't think I would have liked this particular exercise, but given the title of the session I would probably have anticipated deep, emotional responses.
I assume the participants were willing to explore, therefore they tacitly accepted the potentially challenging rollercoaster of emotions. ( I doubt that I would have signed up!)
The real challenge for me is do I want to "grow the person" or am I trying to "control the situation" - ouch!
I admire you all, Les, for your honesty and bravery:
thank-you for sharing at such a deep level.

crafty wee midden Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 11:43am

"These revelations truly made the group uncomfortable and some people feeling very guilty."

I have some( a lot of, both very recent, and throughout a period of almost twenty years) experience of this kind of thing. I found it neither kind, nor helpful, and almost always with a degree of manipulation aimed at the person in question....that they were wrong, or needed to be 'fixed', or were not doing 'whatever' correctly( ie in the sme way as everyone else)....borderline bullying, at times. And very difficult to maintain ones sense of self.

"It's seems so sad, that in three years, no one had got to know this woman well enough to perhaps guide her gently away from 'her behsviour'. What on earth were these peeps saying to her in a day to day basis over that period of time...that they ciukdnt give any positive feedback? Someone has already said that sometimes we know our bad bits, so maybe she does too, but surely she had some good qualities for someone to point out"

And in whose opinion was 'her behaviour' bad? In what way/s? Everything is subjective, relative.

This is very much a hot topic for me, as might be obvious....

Karen Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 4:23pm

Hi Alex,
Everything is subjective, relative but it seems really bad as well as sad that no one got to know this person in three years - in a very 'prestigious organisation'. If after three years, they only told this woman negative things, was how she behaved in front of them that bad? What on earth was she doing to negate any kinder, better responses??

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 5:51pm

Hi A

They are never cruel if you have achieved trust to start with. What this enabled was for the truths to be told in a confidential meeting and for the group now to move on - with the person concerned more dedicated than ever and actually asking the group to let them know when they speak too much in future.

So the group grew.....the person became more aware.....and they will now have far better meetings.

If you are not totally authentic and constructive..........the one who fails is the one who 'thinks' something and then doesn't say it NOT the one who is upsetting others in some way that they are not aware of.

They had already tried the sifter approaches.....and the group was being held back in their growth by not being out of their comfort zones.

The key is it was THEIR desire to go deeper into EQ.

That is what they asked for and that is what they received......simple but not easy.

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 5:58pm

Hi Rupert

It is not harsh if the group itself wants to grow as it has reached a point where they seem to be stuck.

The person involved then sent an email round the group about how brilliant the session had been and how she can understand what had happened and is looking forward to their next meeting.

This is not a company group - it is a group of influential people who meet every month in able to grow as people and as a group.

If someone is in the group and things are pointed out and they do not alter - if that is what they say they wish to do - the group then deal with that - with at its most extreme asking them to the group which wishes to be as one.....can grow.

All too often we are polite and then talk behind some ones back.....the person failing the group or team is the one who is NOT being open with the person concerned and in some way creating some greater self-awareness to the person involved......not talking about them when they are not there.

Hope that maybe heps.

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:00pm

They had been working together for the last three years......once a month.

They all know they are going to read them........

Its about your own self confidence and how you deal with what is set up as constructive and positive feedback.

Their comments are not so often they can be in 360 degree feedback.....

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:04pm

Hi Julia

The comments were certainly not in any way negative........just in this person's perception........not as good as other people' they could also have been better than others.......its all about your own perceptions and enabling those to open up in a safe environment built on trust.

To truly achieve better EQ (emotional intelligence)

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:12pm

Hi Karen

I totally agree..........they all knew......and yet had not found a way to openly speak about it......I thought it strange my task was to enable that 'stuff' to come out in a way that held and developed the group.

They all got what was needed in their own way to step up a level.

Les Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 @ 6:27pm

In many ways you are all in some way 'right'....if you 'see' things from your own perception and thus 'reality' (perception is reality).....and some people have obviously been hurt by what may be an incompetent person.

Without knowing the full picture and what the group were asking of me.....and what was being said in the room.......and what had led up to it........what this story has triggered (in my mind) are your own fears and apprehensions...........

Here is what the person concerned actually wrote.....3 days after the event ended.

"I now have great hopes for the future of our group and that we will be continuing to share what is on our minds and hearts and that we will support one another in developing individually to be able to be creating the best space and environment for support and growth for all.

Thank you for the great poem Les, that I greatly appreciate you took the time to write. I hope you are as good at giving yourself the kind of attention, tender care and support as you are giving your clients."

So.............the message is ALWAYS the outcome.......and this for me, is the reality of going deeper.........from wherever they are.....if that is their desire.

You have to be comfortable with discomfort...............

Mean what you say - but don't be mean when you say it.

EQ is not easy........simple but not easy.

Which is why most do it intellectually...not as I would say 'in the room'.....

IQ constantly ignores this discomfort......our children would far better served by some education on their Character (EQ) rather than being judged almost totally by their IQ and hence we place competence before character..........

The world we have suffers greatly from this focus.......

A good process operate by an incompetent character will fail.

A poor process operated by a competent character will become good.

It all depends on the person and not the process.........unlike our generally IQ world that would say the opposite.

"No real conversation can occur without some vulnerability and courage."

crafty wee midden Fri, Jan 23rd 2015 @ 5:10am

I assume/hope you had her permission to quote what she wrote?

Anonymous Fri, Jan 23rd 2015 @ 7:35am

I've facilitated and taken part in the type of workshop described. At first I was enthusiastic, with more experience I became concerned about the damage that can be caused by well-meaning teachers who lack in-depth psychological knowledge. Sorry, but despite your responses Les, I think this exercise, carried out in the way you describe, is ill-advised and simplistic. There are other and better ways to facilitate critiques between co-workers.

Alicia Fri, Jan 23rd 2015 @ 4:57pm

Hi Les, Thank you so much for sharing this as it resonated deeply with me. :) Thank you xx

Eliz Sun, Jan 25th 2015 @ 9:32am

Hi Les, I assumed you were a man as I thought Les was a male name. Are you female? I love your blogs. They reassure me so much. You seem to talk about things that are close to my heart, and I seem to live in the same world as you.

Les Wed, Jan 28th 2015 @ 11:22pm

Hi Eliz

If you look back to just noticed it..

I'm yes I am male.....with a female heart

Nice to share worlds......glad my blogs seem to align with you

Les Wed, Jan 28th 2015 @ 11:27pm

As you will see above......everyone is right in their own way.

I'm sorry your experience does not make you more positive about such exercises which work for me and the delegates I work with.

To say 'ill-advised and simplistic' how polarised you have become......I presume to some bad experience or an 'elitist' view of what is right and wrong.

A very wise man said
""If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way." This Chinese saying, unfortunately, only too true, stands in sharp contrast to our belief in the 'right' method irrespective of the man who applies it. In realty, everything depends upon the man and little or nothing on the method"

It was Carl Jung and I'll go with his view/

Eliz Thu, Jan 29th 2015 @ 7:22pm

yes I instinctively felt you were a man but wanted to be sure.

You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.