Shabbat Talmud Study: The Accidental Diminisher


When Liz Wiseman first published Multipliers in 2010, she offered her typologies of the multiplier and the diminisher.

Seven years later, in 2017, she published a revised and updated version of her book. What had changed? What was the essential difference between the original and the revised and updated versions?

Answer: The Accidental Diminisher (chapter 7).

What Liz Wiseman learned from seven years of reaction to her book is that while some diminishers are narcissists and egomaniacs who think only they can figure it out, just do what I say, that is a thin slice of the diminishing that goes on. The far more common form of diminishing is done by people of goodwill who do not intend to be diminishers. They intend to be multipliers. As she puts it “sometimes the good guys are the bad guys.” p. xx.

What happens? These well intentioned accidental diminishers illustrate the truth that sometimes too much of a good thing is too much. Wiseman offers nine examples of conduct that, in itself, is inherently good, but the person engaging in this conduct can, in the wrong context, cross a line so that this conduct diminishes.

It is good to answer your emails on time. But if you are sending out emails at 11:00 pm, midnight, 1:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, that can diminish the people to whom you send it who say, “I can’t keep up.”

It is good to be optimistic. But if you are always glass half full, that can diminish our colleague or family member who is grappling with real problems and who wants your empathy for these problems, not your solutions.

It is good to have high standards. But your high standards can come across as diminishing if it feels like perfectionism. The parent who says to the kid who gets a 98 on their test, where were the other two points, is guilty of perfectionism that diminishes.

Tomorrow morning we will meet the original accidental diminisher. His name was Moses.

Shabbat shalom,
Wes