September 20, 2017

Archives for June 2011

He might as well have said they prefer to underperform

“We’re an organization that doesn’t like to listen to other organizations,” he said, also seeming to imply that they’d no intention of changing. That would be OK if they knew everything they needed to know.

Except they don’t.

And their results prove it.

And we pay the price.

To perform, we need to learn, and to learn, we need to listen.

Who do we know better – old acquaintances or new contacts?

Julie frowns. She just can’t seem to get her old friend to take her work seriously. Susan seems more interested in talking about her holiday: “We don’t need marketing people at the moment. We could do with some help changing the organization though, but I don’t think that’s really you. Remember when we worked on the new branding. You were really good at that. Anyway, wait till I tell you what happened to Mark and me in Rome.”

The bill is paid and Julie leaves with a heavy heart. She and Susan go back a long way though it’s five years since they last worked together. She’d hoped more would have come of the meeting.

Julie is hardly out the door when her phone rings. She can barely hear, the traffic is so loud. The caller is saying something like “I’ve been given your details by someone you met last week. We’re looking for people that can help us make change happen. That’s what you do isn’t it? What you’ve done recently seems very relevant. When can you come and see us?”

How often do we play a role in a drama like this?

We judge long-standing contacts on how we used to know them, but give newcomers the benefit of a fresh start and understand them as they are in the present.

We think we know old acquaintances better, but do we really? Maybe the character we perceive is a ghost from the past, and not at all an accurate picture of that person now, especially if we haven’t seen them for a while. Our knowledge of the newcomer may be incomplete and lacking in depth, but nevertheless more accurate.

When judging others, take care to see all of who and what they are now, not the person you used to know.

To be judged as you are now, you may need to make new contacts, to diminish outdated perceptions.

Others may expect you to act like you used to be, because it’s comfortable for them. But it may not be good for you. Be who you are now or the person you have chosen to become.

It’s OK to blame the distant or the inanimate when things go wrong. Or is it?

Blame – common currency of the media. Some organizations are rather familiar with the process too, without usually using the word itself.

The thing is…

As an observer, with whom do you usually feel empathy – the person doing the blaming, or the one being blamed? Blaming is an unattractive behavior that distances us from the people around us – the uninvolved onlookers. Their sympathies transfer to the person we are blaming.

Let’s be clear though…

There’s a difference between “blaming” and holding people appropriately and reasonably accountable.

Whereas accountability involves clarity of thought, blaming is an unthinking response…

It’s so tempting to deflect responsibility elsewhere. We can do it in an instant, so easily we don’t even notice we’re doing it.

Sometimes who or what we’re blaming is so distant or inanimate we think we can’t hurt them.

But still we hurt ourselves…

Only yesterday, I nearly wrote in an email “my bank would take a dim view of me letting you have that information,” (making my directness the bank’s fault) instead of just saying: “I know you would do this anyway, but could you please make keep the details I gave you to yourself.”

It’s also tempting to blame the IT. It’s such a universal problem, isn’t it? “We would have got the report to you on time, but we had IT problems.” or “Sorry, we didn’t respond very quickly. The email was down.”

And then, there’s the traffic. Ah the traffic: “Sorry I’m late. The traffic was really bad.” What a handy excuse.

These words comes so easily.

But here’s the thing…

By blaming the IT, the traffic, or whatever, we come across as weak, and a victim of everyday circumstance. We’re so feeble, we can’t overcome routine difficulties.

Much better to take responsibility, even if it maybe doesn’t belong with us. Others respect that. “I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t allow enough time to get here.” or “The report took us longer than we allowed.”

Or meet expectations in the first place, of course.

The ego – are we its prisoner?

We don’t have to be talking about relationships for long
before the subject of ego comes up.

  • We blame other people.
  • We rebel when we’re treated as “just a number.”
  • We reject feedback and learning because accepting it would
    require us to change our sense of who we are.

…all evidence of the workings of the ego – our centre of consciousness
giving us our sense of identity; how we are separate from other people. The ego
acts to protect our individuality and supports our independence and is a
necessary part of our psyche, but not always our friend.

Encompassing the ego, we have what Jung called the Self – the
whole personality. Its goal is to make the individual complete and whole (hence
Maslow’s “Self-actualization”).

You can experience this difference for yourself. Try this…

In the West especially, we tend to identify ourselves with
our thinking mind – the ego, but notice what happens in the gap between our
thoughts. Do we disappear? Try it now for a few seconds.

(Did you try that, or did your ego kick in and stop you?)

Some other awareness notices the presence or absence of
thoughts. So you’re not your thoughts. Identifying yourself more with that
higher, mindful, noticing Self offers all sorts of benefits. One of them is you
become aware of your ego and can regulate it.

When it comes to relationships…

If we allow our ego to be too strong, we make it hard for
people to connect with us. How can they when we are so strongly separate?

And secondly…

We block our own growth. Just about any learning, certainly
any to do with relating to other people requires us to become somebody
different; to change our sense of who we are. That can only happen if we
regulate our ego.

So to learn quickly and relate well to other people, identify
with your whole Self and become mindful of your ego; notice it doing its thing,
and moderate its influence.

Some call the ego a prison. Take care you’re not one of its
prisoners.

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