Dwelling on a challenge, opportunity, conumdrum or muddle (“COCM”)

Saw an article by Jennifer Wallace that caused me to think.

As parents, and usually as business owners, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli. I call it "COCM"–an acronym for challenge, opportunity, conundrum or muddle.

"Quit interviewing for pain."

A refresher may be helpful as we have talked about this topic before in my blog. A conundrum is a confusing & difficult challenge or question. A muddle is a disorganized collection of facts bearing on a challenge or opportunity.

I digress.

The point of this blog (as in all of my blogs) is how best to deal with imperfect information.

Point here is not to dwell on it with teenagers, millennial, boomer, or Gen Z co-workers, etc. Why? A growing body of research suggests that dwelling on COCM can do more harm than good. By dwelling, I take that to mean constantly checking in on a situation. Some may call it micro-managing in a work setting.

Don't get me wrong. Talking through the COCM with your inner circle is certainly healthy in moderation.

Psychologists have even created a word to describe this. Co-rumination.  A/K/A excessively rehashing and speculating about problems with a parent or friend. Creates stress, and anxiety in the short-term. In the intermediate to longer term, it can become a hardship and downright depressing!

Psychologist Amanda Rose says, "They just need to learn to stop some conversations sooner" particularly when new information isn't introduced into the discussion equation.

Once you've talked about it, resist the urge to ask lots of probing questions. "Interviewing for pain does your child (or co-worker) a disservice," by focusing on the negative narrative.

What to do from here once I've called you on it.

Put your listening ears on and listen with empathy. I didn't say sympathy. There is a difference. Be encouraging and empowering. Something like, "I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this! How do you think you're going to handle this from here?"

Fixating on the problems can "build a mountain out of a mole hill" as my Mom used to say.

So, in closing, here is Dr. Rose's advice:

1.) Be self-aware. For example, are you a party co-rumination? (or not?)

2.) When conversations turn circular, take a walk. A "pattern interrupt" (a helpful diversion or distraction) like a walk is typically very helpful. Be preemptive with the other party around why you are doing what you are doing. Something like (put your pwn words around it), "I don't want to signal that I'm aloof or indifferent. I want what is best for you in any given moment. I prefer not to dwell in the negative."