Adobe-full-color Adobe-white Adobe-black logo-white Adobe-full Adobe Behance arrow-down arrow-down 2 arrow-right arrow-right 2 Line Created with Sketch. close-tablet-03 close-tablet-05 comment dropdown-close dropdown-open facebook instagram linkedin rss search share twitter

Big Ideas

3 Ways to Fight Apathy

When it comes to collaboration, one of our greatest fears is often confrontation. But prolonged apathy can be even more dangerous.

Amidst a tough economy and a competitive business environment, we all face trying periods. Sometimes we are liable to get tired and let our minds wander. Rather than stay active, we might slip into a passive state. Unfortunately, small and growing businesses can’t afford to lose energy. Great decisions and thoughtful solutions require focus and full participation.
In my experience on creative teams, I have found that active engagement is the “special sauce” for breakthrough realizations. Fighting is a good thing. Passionate viewpoints spawn heated discussions. And if one person starts to detach, the chemistry of the entire team suffers.For this reason, apathy – the state of not caring – is dangerous. As leaders, we must fiercely defend the chemistry of our teams. When you see any degree of apathy, you must address it.Consider a few approaches for confronting apathy:

1. Call it out.

When a colleague disengages during a heated discussion or difficult project, call him or her out on it. Sometimes we lose focus without realizing it, and we rely on our team to bring us back. Simply asking, “Are you following me? Does this make sense?” Or asking for feedback on the process itself might solve the problem. If you fail to call it out, you will find that apathy is contagious.

2. Talk it out.

Apathy often has roots that run deep. Sometimes it is a personal issue that is causing the turmoil. Other times it is a disagreement or a miscommunication between team members. Whatever it is, it will only become worse without discussing it. Teams should foster an open atmosphere where people can discuss tensions as a way of resolving them.

3. Introduce new challenges & pose new questions.

Sometimes apathy can be traced to a lack of feeling challenged. Behance’s Chief of Design, Matias Corea, suggests adding new challenges into the mix as a way of re-engaging checked-out team members.

Another cause of distraction or disengagement can be simply getting lost amidst discussion. Perhaps a team member has lost track of the major question being answered. Or, alternatively, maybe the question never made sense in the first place. The easy solution is to simply pose the question again in a new way. Simply reframing the topic at hand can often re-engage everyone.

More Posts by Scott Belsky

Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.

Comments (3)
  • John Doe

    Here’s My comment stuff

  • Daniel Smedegaard Buus

    I really like these comments.

    great Job?

  • Marvin

    The lack of new challenges and new questions seem to be the most common reason for apathy in my area. It is so easy just to become satisfied with where we are at and not move forward in new areas of ministry to the community and the world. Thanks for reminding us that stopping is like going backwards.

  • JG Miksi

    This is an interesting way to cope with apathy, I will try step 2 and I will let you know how it went.

  • Pang

    We can find the new way by new questions. Just pose new questions in mind everyday.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More articles on Big Ideas

Two figures in a meeting.
Woman presenting a talk in front of a projection.
Illustration by The Project Twins
An illustration of a painting frame with a computer screen in it mimicking a personal website
An illustration of a man writing in a notepad imaging himself holding a trophy
Hands reaching out and intertwined to imply networking.