Stop Broadcasting Fake News (to Yourself)

Don’t worry, this is NOT a political post about fake news. It’s also NOT about the media’s coverage of politics. This post is about the fake news we tell ourselves and how unhelpful it is. The fake news we make up about work negatively impacts our ability to be satisfied, energized & productive – AKA engaged. Fake news leads to job dissatisfaction & burnout and can increase stress and negativity.

Here are 2 examples of fake news that we create that might feel familiar and what you can do about them.

Fake News about the Future

Because the future hasn’t happened yet, any negative fake news we tell ourselves about it isn’t helpful. Recently I was talking with a manager and she was worried about a merger that was happening between her hospital and a larger hospital in a neighboring town. She created a story about how the bigger hospital was going to change everything and make their community hospital feel more “corporate”. The merger is set to happen in March 2018. She’s creating fake news today.

So, here’s what’s potentially happening. She chooses to worry about something for 3 months that may or may not even happen. Notice I said, “she chooses” …because in essence that’s what we do when we create fake news about the future.

My mantra is “If I don’t know the ending to a story, write a happy ending.”

(feel free to tweet that out @vickihess)

Some of you might be shaking your head thinking I’m delusional. You can recount other stories of mergers (or fill in the blank with the thing you are worrying about) that went awry. It doesn’t matter. This merger hasn’t happened yet. Nothing bad has happened. So, stop telling yourself – and others – fake news about things that MIGHT happen in the future. Be patient, be present and wait and see. You’ll feel much better TODAY.

Fake News about the Past

Right about now you might be thinking, how can news about the past be fake? It’s already happened so of course my story about it will be true. WRONG J

Sometimes our perception of what happened is different than what actually happened.

I witnessed a car accident and shared my contact information with the person whose car was hit (it was the other driver’s fault). The police called me the next day and I told them what I saw at the intersection. I was very confident about the facts. The at-fault drive ran an red light and hit the other car. Over the next few weeks, both insurance companies called me. I realized that my memory was starting to blur. Not about the big things – like the light being red, but about details about the intersection, etc. I had other things on my mind – the “facts” started to be a little slippery. I told both companies to refer to the police report because I knew it was important to get this right.

Have you ever made a mistake, had a disagreement or thought you offended someone at work? Maybe you are feeling bad because you didn’t handle it as well as you could have. You start beating yourself up.  You tell yourself fake news. “I’m so dumb, I can’t believe I did that.” “What a rookie move – I should have known better.”

I’ve done it and it’s a big waste of time and energy. The facts of what happened can’t be changed after they have occurred so instead of dwelling on what occurred, try a different approach.

Here’s what works better if you want to be satisfied, energized & productive. When something in the past is bothering you and you look in the rear-view mirror of your memory…

  1. Learn from the mistake
  2. Let it go

Want to be less stressed at work?

Stop broadcasting fake news to yourself and others. As a leader, help your team recognize the downside of spreading fake news to each other. Dispel those rumors, talk about past mistakes and get back to the business at hand – doing great work to serve others.

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