Planners’ Picks — December 13, 2022

Planners’ Picks

A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

Here’s another extended version of the Picks—a stocking stuffed with articles and resources to help you be the best you can be at work and in life. This extra-long issue is our gift to you this holiday season!

Let’s get over our little mistakes faster, do some pre-holiday anxiety prep, listen more deeply, and ramp up our empathy. We’ll also tap into our strengths at review time and try to persuade you with our communications.


:: Image of the Week

Image showing when I do well (happy) and when I make a minor mistake (a ton of comments on being a failure).

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan


:: Resources on Work Culture & Team Development

Learning to Listen Deeply — An Improvisation-Based Exercise

If I was asked to define improvisation in one sentence, I would answer: Improvisation is the art of listening and responding or reacting. Simple right? Except, we aren’t that good at listening. Here’s a simple exercise to do in a team to emphasize listening fully before responding.

Like this idea? Maybe you want to check out the UW-Madison Leadership Improv group for more improv exercises that correlate with leadership skills! They meet once a month and it’s open to people outside the university as well as staff at any level of the organization. Contact Amanda Thornton for more information — the next scheduled meeting is December 16th at noon at Union South (see TITU for room assignment).

How to Work with Someone Who Creates Unnecessary Conflict

Conflict at work comes in many forms. Good conflict, the kind that is healthy, pushes us to be better as people and communities. Most organizations need more good conflict, not less. But sometimes, conflict can become malignant. It hijacks precious time, trust, and energy, turning allies against each other and distorting reality. This is what’s known as “high conflict,” the kind that takes on a life of its own, and eventually, leaves almost everyone worse off.

“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt—it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” – Hal Boyle

Social Capital: Build Back Better Relationships At Work

Social capital, simply defined, is the presence of networks, relationships, and connections within any organization or, more broadly, community or culture. Companies are reporting a dearth of social capital since the start of the pandemic. How can they reestablish meaningful connections among teams and individuals in today’s changed work environments?



:: Resources on Mental Health and Self-Care (Holiday Version!)

A scribble called My Anxiety, and a scribble with holiday lights called My Anxiety in December.

Handling Anxiety During the Holiday Season

So many spend the year lamenting on busyness and readying for “down time” or some “quiet.” Then when the end of the year comes there is heightened: anxiety, overwhelm, numbing, onset of depression, grief.

Consider these possible supports listed in Aiko Bethea’s Linkedin feed:

A Simple Trick For Surviving Holiday Events

What do you picture when you think about the holidays? Fun, food, decorations, laughter, the closeness of family and friends? Unfortunately, the reality for many is not so rosy. Most of us just hope to survive the obligatory interactions that come with this time of year. Check out this fun visualization game designed to lower your holiday stress levels. This technique is best done before you find yourself in a stressful situation – to ward off the feelings of stress, or after a stressful confrontation when you need to mellow out quickly.

Anxiety At Work: How to Relieve Stress

Listen to this brief Author Recap on the podcast “Effective Leadership Skills: How To Manage Emotions to Reduce Pressure & Stress in the Workspace” with Craig Dowden, Here is a bonus recap with Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton. Learn the following tips:

  • Flip your thinking –> Choose to look at obstacles as collaborative opportunities
  • Business is personal –>  Engagement is about emotions and feeling connected
  • The difference between pressure and stress –> Where are the areas of your life you’re feeling under-resourced

Susan David’s Emotional Pyramid of Needs

Download this free exercise to help you become more agile and balanced in the world.

The Emotional Pyramid of Needs illustrates the critical steps we can follow in order to meet even the most challenging moments with curiosity and an open heart.

When we are able to compassionately respond to both the reality of our present circumstance and the emotions that come with this reality, we become stronger than ever.

She shows some graphics associated with it in this Linkedin post:

The document can be downloaded here:


:: Resources on Self-Leadership Development

Words of WISDOM – Dirk Frese and Lucy Smith

Vice President of JULABO USA, Inc.Dirk Frese is a heart-centered leader and was featured in the book The Art of Caring Leadership (which CSN covered last year in our book club series). Check out this recorded video cast for Women In Science Demonstrating Outstanding Merits, where host Lucy Smith Dirk discuss the following topics:

– Obstacles women may face in their career
– The value of diversity and mentorship
– Finding female leadership role models on LinkedIn
– How to make the most of a video/virtual interview
– Why the hiring process takes longer during a pandemic
– How to successfully present your authentic self during all aspects of the hiring process

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” —Steve Jobs

50 Cognitive Biases in the Modern World

Cognitive biases are widely accepted as something that makes us human.

Every day, systematic errors in our thought process impact the way we live and work. But in a world where everything we do is changing rapidly—from the way we store information to the way we watch TV—what really classifies as rational thinking?

It’s a question with no right or wrong answer, but to help us decide for ourselves, today’s infographic from TitleMax lists 50 cognitive biases that we may want to become privy to.


:: Resources on Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research

Empathy has always been a critical skill for leaders, but it is taking on a new level of meaning and priority. Far from a soft approach, it can drive significant business results.

You always knew demonstrating empathy is positive for people, but new research demonstrates its importance for everything from innovation to retention. Great leadership requires a fine mix of all kinds of skills to create the conditions for engagement, happiness, and performance, and empathy tops the list of what leaders must get right.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” —Ronald Reagan

Books on the Topic of Empathy

Below are two lists of books on the topic of empathy, if this is a subject you want to do more studying on.


:: Resources on Communication

What Just Happened? The 9 Counterintuitive Ways To Persuade

Dianna Booher, a communications and productivity expert who has served a number of the largest U.S. corporations, knows a great deal about how to persuade. She is also keenly aware of the deal-killer potholes that leave even the best-prepared executives wondering, “What just happened?”

Here’s Booher’s counterintuitive tips for persuading people to action as included in her newest book What More Can I Say? Whether selling a product, making a pitch to investors, or simply asking your boss for a raise, these tips are sure to include at least a few ideas you haven’t yet thought about that will help you succeed:

Making Performance Reviews and Self-Reviews Easier Using StrengthsFinder Assessment Results

During performance review season, try to incorporate CliftonStrengths into the process with your team to connect with them more authentically. You can even ask these questions of yourself to prepare for YOUR review cycle! Good news! We have some support for you. Inspired by one of their favorite clients, the folks at Gallup made you a document with 3 questions you could ask a person based on any of their top talent themes.

Download it here:

Tools For Better Thinking

Are you trying to solve a problem? Understand a system? Make a decision? Maybe you don’t know the right path to take to achieve that initiative; that’s where Untools comes in to save the day! Check out this website with several structures to get you to a result. Untools is a collection of thinking tools and frameworks to help you solve problems, make decisions and understand systems developed by Adam Amran, a product designer.

As a designer, I’m paid for good thinking. I solve problems and make decisions on day-to-day basis. A while ago, I began to look into purposefully improving my thinking. There are plenty of digital design tools, but they are not enough. I couldn’t find one place that would offer a good overview of thinking tools. Eventually, I found plenty of these tools, but scattered around the web. My goal is to build a collection of tools and frameworks, covering areas like problem solving, systems thinking or decision making. I started building it for myself, but I hope it will be useful to many of you.”  – Adam

Check out his collection of tools, including a conflict resolution diagram, decision matrix, and minto pyramid at


:: Resources on Hybrid/Remote Work/RTW

Ice-Breakers Don’t Have To Suck

Not sure what to use as an ice breaker for your team meeting? Here are a few suggestions from the Ask a Manager group.

Strategies for Coping at Work

As tragic as the COVID pandemic has been, when it shook up our norms of daily life, it also opened new possibilities. The lockdown forced many people to work from home, a trend that is continuing. Returning to the office is now a choice more than ever before. As long as this has become an important issue, this is a good time to consider the issue of how to cope at work.

Deepak Chopra gives some great advice on how to handle workloads, stresses of the work environment, and to look at work more like the hobbies you enjoy. If you can merge how you approach a hobby with how you approach work, you have made a step toward better coping.


:: Take Five*

*Note : CSN has added “Take Five” articles occasionally to take you off the beaten path. Articles will be about local or regional areas of interest, but not necessarily focused on leadership development. The intent is for you to take a break from being a leader and relaxing for a moment!

Wisconsin’s Name: Where It Came From and What It Means

At a recent University Staff Shared Governance Congress meeting, guest speaker Brian D. McInnes shared some history of the naming of our state. A Leola R. Culver Professor in Nonprofits and Philanthropy and Associate Professor at SoHE, Brian is an enrolled member of the Ojibwe nation and direct descendant of the Wisconsin Potawatomi tribe, and is committed to building opportunities for increased intercultural understanding, collaboration, and critical change. He spoke about Native American Month to the Congress, and also shared a story of the winding river that eventually named our home state.

Few basic facts about our state have caused as much confusion or led to as much muddled thinking as the origin of its name. We can finally be confident that our state’s name, supported by geological evidence, means “river running through a red place.”