Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Awareness: The Pause That Refreshes

I'm thinking this morning about why it seems the people who are already the most aware are the ones who keep learning and growing and those who seem to "need it" the most are those who remain in the dark.

I hear stories all the time about other people who appear to be really lacking in areas like communication skills, compassion, empathy, respect, understanding. Rarely do we have conversations which involve ourselves and the lessons we can take from those others who seem to monopolize many of our waking hours (and sometimes even our restless sleeping hours).

In Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote about those others in the section about "First Who, Then What" when he said that leaders in organizations spend most of their time dealing with people who maybe shouldn't even be on the bus, instead of concentrating on first getting the people off the bus who shouldn't be there, then getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Only then should the bus driver decide where to go (not sure I agree with the order of that comment, but that's neither here nor there).

He said that often leaders are spending way more time on the people who probably shouldn't even be on the bus in the first place, thereby neglecting those champions who aren't really getting much positive attention.

Here's another way to explain that. The percentages may be different for different organizations, but let's assume there is 10% of an organization's employees who are wildly loyal and would do anything for the organization, 10% of an organization's employees who can never be pleased no matter what, and 80% of the employees who lie somewhere in the middle and can be swayed either way.

What happens most of the time is that the attention of the managers and supervisors goes to the bottom 10%, or those people who will never come around anyway. So where the attention goes, there goes the 80%. Instead, wouldn't it make more sense to spend more time rewarding and appreciating the behavior we want to attract the 80% in that direction?

This probably comes from our conditioning as little kids. We hear "NO" far more often than we hear "YES" growing up, so it would stand to reason that we spend more time trying to get others to agree with us than we do with those who already do.

Sometimes just coming to a new awareness is what it takes to get us to see things differently. And it seems those new "aha"s are most sustainable when we come to them on our own, instead of when we are pushed or coerced or forced to take them from others, especially others in authority.

So today, just notice something that frustrates or upsets you and pause. Take a deep breath and try to understand why you are upset. What is the message for you in that upset? If that something is actually someone, is there a chance for a different conversation? Might you ask a question instead of give a command? Maybe there's a way to use the three magic words in a conversation: "Help me understand."

Of course, the key is that you recognize the upset. We really do train people how to treat us by the way we show up. If people are giving you clues through their body language, that's probably the best information you can get, since 55% of communication is visual.

The only person you can change is you. But first you have to be aware.


Would you like some help recognizing what's working and what's not working in your organization as far as interpersonal relationships and communication goes? Check out our website at www.bocksoffice.com for contact information. We'd love to be your partner in effectiveness!


At 1:41 AM, Anonymous nisha said...

The posts so far have been great - hoping for some more.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Hey Nisha! Thanks for stopping by! Glad to have you share in the conversation!


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