CHANGING PATTERNS IN 2002
Volume #25 - December 2001
The world is presently in upheaval and there is little security. People around the world are tragically losing their lives and their livelihoods. In most disputes, each side thinks the other side is wrong.
The difficulty in dealing effectively with the larger differences in the global world are a reflection of the difficulty we have in handling smaller differences that pop up in our everyday lives. We need to look below the surface of issues and problems - large and small - to find the root cause of the dilemmas we face and how we contribute to them.
As we move into a new year, it's a good time to step back and make reflective assessments. What kind of issues did you encounter this past year with people inside or outside of work? In order to make 2002 different from, and better than, 2001 you'll need to identify the patterns of behavior that cause you problems.
Here are several patterns that show up regularly and suggestions for changing those behaviors:
Pattern: Incorrect assumptions. You have your own interpretation of what's happening or what needs to happen, but you don't realize it's your interpretation. The "truth" is so evident to you that you assume the other person is on the same wave length - interpreting the situation in the same way. So, you move forward assuming that everyone is on the same page and then discover that things are going wrong. You figure it must be the other person's fault since you were clear about what was going on and what needed to be done.
Suggestion: Never make assumptions. Check what you consider to be the "truth" using clarifying questions, especially around issues of extreme importance and next steps in projects. Hold a conversation with the other person in which you summarize and repeat back what you think you heard to be the other person's position, beliefs, and understanding about how to move forward. Don't end the conversation until the assumptions are cleared up. You might find that you are in disagreement, but at least you'll discover the points about which you disagree. You can end a conversation by agreeing to disagree for the time being and make a plan for negotiating the differences.
Pattern: Boundless support. You feel like you are always helping people out, giving advice, and lending a supportive hand; yet, you don't feel like you are given the same kind of support. This makes you feel hurt, resentful and angry. You wonder what's wrong with other people. Why can't they be as caring as you are or as good a friend as you are? You really care about relationships; yet, you have actually lost friendships without realizing why.
Suggestion: Understand that your idea of helping out might not be the same as other people's. Find out what kind of support and help people need before you give it. Respect and honor the fact that others view relationships in different ways than you do. Withhold giving advice that is not asked for. Although some people might truly appreciate your help, others might consider you intrusive and bossy. People might accept your support even if they don't want to because they don't want to hurt your feelings or deal with the fallout. They might also believe you're offering support without any strings attached. But there are strings - you just haven't made them obvious. Over time as you try to pull the strings, people will withdraw, figuring that the best way to deal with you is to not deal with you. You will build better relationships when you understand what makes a particular relationship mutually beneficial.
Pattern: Aggressiveness. You have an assertive personality and are always moving forward toward results. You like things done quickly. You pride yourself on your ability to hold candid conversations and tell it like it is. You expect the same from others and find it annoying when others can't simply tell you the truth. You get impatient when people can't get to the point and solve problems. You'd rather jump in and get things started and worry about details later. You don't mean to be aggressive or offensive, you just want to get things done and can't understand why people have to be so sensitive, or why they have trouble dealing with you.
Suggestion: Recognize that your dominant personality can be intimidating to others, and make greater efforts to be more respectful of others' viewpoints and behaviors. Although you have enormous ability to move mountains and solve problems, in the end you can't do it alone. In order to truly solve problems, you need to work with other people. Although you have vision and see the end product you want, you might not see all the variables that have to be dealt with in order to achieve lasting goals. You cannot do it alone, so practice greater humility.
The theme that runs through each of these examples is lack of understanding. If we would make greater efforts to keep tuned in to other people and respect their positions, we'd save ourselves a lot of grief on both personal and global levels. May the New Year bring us all greater insight and more understanding in dealing with our differences.
- Upon reflection, is there a particular behavior of yours that seems to precede difficult situations on a regular basis? If so, describe that behavior.
- What attitudes, assumptions and beliefs do you hold that might drive the behavior?
- How can you change your attitudes, assumptions or beliefs and modify that behavior?
- What small step can you take to act in a new, completely different way?
- How will you know if your new behavior is helping you to succeed?
Copy © 2001 Virginia O'Brien All s Reserved