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Rotten truth: ‘You’re better than this’

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in Workplace Communication

When executive coach Gregg Thompson was a young man, he loved playing hockey.

The sport’s roughness appealed to his instincts and made him feel like a warrior. By the same token, it drew out his aggression and an urge to play dirty.

Late in a particularly nasty game, the opposing coach leaned out and shouted at Thompson. That was typical of hockey coaches, so Thompson didn’t think about it much as he sped toward the bench.

But the coach’s words startled him: “Hey you, No. 17, I’ve been watching you. You’re better than this!”

Thompson was cut to the core. He says the coach might as well have kicked out his skates from under him. He knew his behavior was low and unsportsmanlike. This was merely public confirmation of what he knew deep down to be true.

To this day, whenever Thompson catches himself taking the low road, the coach’s words come floating back to haunt him: an honest confrontation by a true coach.

—Adapted from Unleashed!, Gregg Thompson with Susanne Biro, SelectBooks.

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