How To Melt A Grinch’s Heart

How To Melt A Grinch’s Heart post image

This time of year we may call them “the grinch,” but you know the type. “Disgruntled,” “negative,” the ones of you label in the “quit and stay” category.

I’ve been to many a meeting and several change workshops where the sentiment goes something like this.

“It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small”
~Dr. Seuss

“Don’t waste your energy on that segment.”

“They will suck you dry, just move on”

“You can’t change them anyway.”

“Give your attention and energy to the rest of the team.”


Sometimes that is true. I have “wasted” lots of “energy” on such “grinches” over the years.

On the other hand, I also know it’s possible to melt a “grinch’s heart.” The rewards are remarkable. WIth your heart-melting powers you may change a life, enhance the business, and feel the deep satisfaction that comes from doing your best as a leader.

Isn’t it worth a try?

Melting the Outer Grinch

We all have our grinch-turnaround stories. These classic Christmas stories come from real life.

Here’s my view, please share yours…

  • Don’t label them as a “grinch” or any such word to yourself, to them, or to others
  • Take the time to get to know them as a person (there’s likely more to this picture that may require some empathy)
  • Listen to their concerns (chances are there’s some really important points underneath all that ice)
  • Share a bit about what worries you and your concerns
  • Find out what they love to do and tap into those gifts
  • Recognize the small wins
  • Ask them to help someone else
  • What would you add (please share in your comments)
“And what happened then…
Well in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight;
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light…”


Filed Under:   Energy & Engagement
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

I find these people who appear to be rough around the edges, are simply looking to be heard. They want to be understood. They want to be loved. So, give them what they want when they least expect it. Heh, that’s a present. wink, wink….

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Thanks, Steve. I totally agree. Understanding, love… what an amazing gift.

Eric   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Great ideas! They really show how I’ve got to get my heart and head right before expecting others to do the same. The tip about having them help someone else is one of my favorite ways to get people engaged again and help them grow.

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Eric, thanks so much. You lift up an important part about getting our own head and heart right first. That can be tricky and wonderful.

Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

I just finished reading a book that helps address this. The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace It’s based on the Five Love Languages. I was skeptical at first…but allowed one of my supervisors to implement this last summer with our seasonal staff. I can’t explain the difference it made. Best staff in 16 years.

Side note…I like the new header on the site.

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Wow, Eric, thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely get that book.

Dan Rockwell   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply


Thanks for this post. I’m a huge of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” so I couldn’t resist reading this post.

Absolutely love… melt the grinch hearts by asking them to help someone. It’s a bit risky but worth it.

Those I thought were grinches weren’t always. Sometimes I just didn’t understand their needs for success, style of relating, or values….sometimes I need to change my grinchy heart.



letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Dan, so great to see you here. Thanks for joining the conversation… yeah, sometimes I need to melt my own grinchy heart too ;-)

Kim   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Yes, yes! How others behave is so often a reflection of who we assume they are, and of our expectations that they will “misbehave”. Steve is right: so often people aren’t heard, and they will “act out” until they are. The parenting book, “Positive Discipline” notes that a misbehaving child is a discouraged child. I see that a lot in grown ups as well.

Eric’s recommendation of Love Languages is a great one. I haven’t read the workplace one, but am very familiar with the one for families. Absolutely stand out! I would also recommend “Love Works”, by Joel Manby. My husband instituted some of the practices at work, and it has transformed his small department from grumpy and dysfunctional to an encouraged and encouraging team.

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2012   |   Reply

Thanks so much for joining the conversation and for your insights. Exciting… another book to check out. Thanks for the recommendation.