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Joshua earned a PhD in Astrophysics and an MBA, both at Columbia University, where he studied under a Nobel Laureate. He teaches and coaches leadership at Columbia, NYU, and privately. He has founded several companies, one operating globally since 1999, with a half-dozen patents to his name. He competed athletically at a national and world level.

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“I’m offended!” and “I’m outraged!” … What that means.

posted by Joshua on August 27, 2015 in Awareness, Perception
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“I’m offended by what you say!”

“I’m outraged”

People say things like this all the time. People who say things like that write a lot of opinion pieces in the media. I think they’re trying to communicate: “You did something wrong and I have the right to change you.”

That’s not what they’re saying, despite their intent.

They’re telling you their emotional state. That’s all. To the extent people prefer happiness or other emotions to offense and outrage, they’re revealing a lack of skill to regulate their emotions. That’s a problem for them. No one else has to take responsibility for changing their emotions. In my opinion, no one should, as I wrote in “I take responsibility for my emotions and no other adults’” and “I never take responsibility for someone else’s emotions.” I believe “Leaders take responsibility” and they are not.

To say “I am offended” is like saying “I am happy” or “I am sad.” A reasonable response might be, “Oh,” or “Thank you for sharing, now I know.” I guess you could add, “Would you like help learning to manage your emotions?” To say “That’s offensive” is just offering your opinion.

I think they want you to react by doing what they tell you, but I don’t see why anyone should accept their obligation.

If they want to change what they think offended them (besides their lack of emotional management skills), I suggest that venting emotional intensity doesn’t help solve problems. It results from not knowing how to solve them and tells others you’re out of control. It’s like a child throwing a tantrum, expecting their loss of composure to motivated others.

Venting emotional intensity works with some, but the cost of people taking you less seriously. You’re showing the world

  1. You aren’t being reasonable
  2. You’re blaming others for your problems
  3. You are putting your interests before others’
  4. You prefer talking about yourself to solving problems
  5. You want others to change but won’t change yourself.

Some say you don’t have the right not to be offended. I agree, although I don’t think it’s necessary to point it out. Someone saying they are outraged are just talking about themselves.

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Leadership lessons from Frances Hesselbein, part 5/5

posted by Joshua on August 25, 2015 in Exercises, Leadership, Relationships, Stories
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“What do I say to a 99-year-old woman?” “What do I say to a famous person?” “What do I say to someone who could help my career without seeming selfish?” All I could think to ask was what it’s like to be 99, which seemed irrelevant and the same question people have asked her for[…] Keep reading →