It's all too tempting to beat ourselves up when things go wrong at work.
We can spend hours dissecting an awkward conversation with our boss, or a presentation that slightly lost its thread.
We go around and around in our heads berating ourselves, and trying to figure out why it went pear-shaped.
But, says organizational psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich, in situations such as these we're framing the approach wrong.
The bestselling author tells Business Insider that we should be using the "what not why" tool to review our performance at work.
She dissects the idea in her new book, Insight.
Swap "why" for "what" when things go wrong at work
"You might ask yourself, if you're a well-intentioned, successful person, 'Why did I go so wrong in that meeting?' or, 'Why did I mess that up?'" Eurich says.
"What I've found, in my research and others', is that when we asks ourselves those 'why' questions, it takes us down a spiral of self-loathing.
"It makes us depressed; it tends to make us beat ourselves up in a non-productive way. But if we can ask the question of 'what,' that's more future-oriented. That can make all the difference in the world."
Instead of asking "why", she says, you're better off asking something like "What can I do differently in the future?" or, "What can I learn from this particular event that will help me be more successful next time?"
By swapping "why" for "what" in analysing a negative event, you separate yourself from the problem, and so are better able to manage the feelings that arise from it.
"What" will force you to look upwards rather than inwards, so you'll learn new things about yourself, rather than getting stuck in a chasm of self-criticism.