September 25, 2017

Broad or precise?

Group discussionBroad or precise, which do you prefer?

Possibly (but not necessarily) because I’m engineer, I generally regard precision (and the requisite level of detail) as an unmitigated good thing. Not everyone has the same preference of course.

It is quite striking (to me, that is) how some people seem to like an approach to a subject that is really quite broad. To those that unconsciously prefer more precision and structure such an approach can seem really rather woolly, and it’s hard to understand the choice.

But, of course, from the perspective of those who are comfortable with a certain fuzziness in the interest of a more general view, too much structure and precision can be distinctly suffocating.

In fact, of course, it takes all sorts.

The thing is…

Which do you prefer—the broad or the precise?

And what about the people you are dealing with?

Individuals may divide more sharply into the two categories than we realise and the one is rather unfathomable to the other. That’s because these patterns of filtering are largely unconscious.

The question then is how to adapt to a person’s preference, which, by the way, they probably aren’t aware of.

All rather significant in many contexts.

The trap of structure

Fork in a pathIf you already have the structure of something—a task, a project, an issue…

…it might not be the thing you most need to do. Maybe you should hand it off, or be done with it altogether.

We like when we know where we are and where we’re going; when we are clear on the structure we need. We can act on that.

We don’t like when we don’t know where we are or where we are going; when we don’t have a map. We feel uncertain and hesitant.

And so we tend to focus on those things where we have structure, but they may be the very things we should be moving on from in order to grow and develop.

Structure is great. Structure is comfortable. Structure might be a trap.

Should you be moving on from the structured to the unstructured? Should you be in uncharted territory?

What could an engineer possibly bring to relationship skills?

Group discussing plansIn three words—system and structure—though that’s perhaps not for everyone.

My apparent shift from engineering to relationships seems to fascinate. The typical introduction goes like this: “He is an engineer by profession but/however/though/and (delete according to taste) he now works on relationship skills.”

But it’s maybe not so strange—in the end, it’s all about people in any profession.

Engineers look to understand things at a fundamental level, learn practical and insightful skills, and use them as much as possible.

Every week, I write a little piece specifically on this topic and post it here, though all the time, I’m drawing on an underlying system for relationships drawn from a number of sources. Here it is for you now…

1. Attention to other people first
2. A resourceful attitude through a set of principles
3. Self-control and calmness
4. Being mindful of visual, auditory and kinesthetic preferences
5. Understanding and adapting to personality traits
6. Connecting with people quickly, easily and reliably
7. Working quickly and effectively with values
8. Seeing patterns in language
9. Self-awareness
10. Clarity about what we want
11. Reconciling our inner tensions
12. Human connection and love

Now your first reaction might be that’s all common sense.

It’s not.

Every one of these topics is a skill area in itself and an opportunity to develop expertise and insight we generally won’t have by accident, though depending on how you come to this subject, some will be familiar.

The thing is…

If you want to hone your ability to relate to other people professionally and personally—and why on earth wouldn’t you—and see more clearly what’s going on, these are the headings you need. Skip any one of these, and something is liable to trip you up. Learning them in depth, on the other hand, is life-changing.

I’ve set all this out in detail in my book, which is available here http://amzn.to/ouLZgs (US) or http://amzn.to/vAaZMl (UK). Quite honestly, a steal for the amount of learning available. I hope you’ll treat it as a resource.

Or you could ask me to speak at your event or guest on your program.