Game of telephone

Have you ever played the game of telephone?  It starts with one person saying a sentence or phrase to another person who then repeats it to the next person.  This process continues until the last person has heard the message, and which point, they repeat the message out loud.  

It is rare to repeat messages and have the final message match the original.

Examples to gain self-awareness

Here are a few questions and possible exercises that can help you become more aware of yourself and of others.

  • When speaking with others, do they ever take a step back from you?  This could indicate that they are protecting their personal space. Respect their need for space and refrain from stepping in toward them.  If interacting with someone of a higher rank, stepping into their personal space could prevent you from getting the next assignment or role.

  • How positive are your thoughts?  Pay attention to the line of dialog that plays in your mind when you are not speaking. Consider keeping a notebook beside you to write your dialog down on paper.  Then read through it.  What is the content of the ongoing dialog you carry with yourself?  If your thoughts lean more negative than positive, it could be possible that others at work and in your personal life perceive you as critical or negative?  What ways can you create solutions to the thoughts running in your mind?

  • Do you feel or believe that you are always right and others are wrong?  Or that the ideas of others are not as good as yours?  If this is the case, others may see you as uncooperative and difficult to work with.  Consider the reasons that you are unwilling to consider the ideas and solutions of others.  The next time the opportunity arises, allow yourself to entertain ways that the ideas of others could work.  Then share your thoughts with them.

Self-awareness and barriers to entry

There are things certain type of feedback items that people rarely give to others.  Yet, these items can be “barriers to entry” in terms of being promoted, establishing new connections and relationships, or being hired for a job.

Practicing self-awareness can bring some of these things to light.  This simply means paying attention to cues provided by those you interact with that includes their behavior, responses and the words / body language they use in their interactions with you.

I’ll provide a short list of examples in the next post.

Perspective from podcasts

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately – mostly via car, which lends many hours to road noise.  To overcome the rhythm of the tires on blacktop, I’ve been listening to podcasts – mostly non-fiction.  

Something that has struck me repeatedly is how much depth we miss in our world of tweets, headlines, and five-to-seven second attention spans.  There are stories I thought I knew but have been reminded that rarely does 360 degrees of understanding convey in five-to-seven seconds.  Or even in 90 seconds.  Some of the historical podcasts I’ve been listening to are hours long. Yet, I only remember snippets of the story ever being in the media.  And the additional context paints another panel to that shifts perception of the event and of the people involved.

How frequently do you make a judgment of someone?  When was the last time you were on the receiving end of a snap judgment by someone else? How could pausing to ask more questions help to unveil more truth about the situation?

Less work more family

One of the purposes of family is connection... to see each other, to be seen; to know each other, to be known. 

Sometimes this purpose gets hijacked and the family dynamic becomes tense and difficult. Maybe even dysfunctional.  Members of the family may not feel safe, seen, known, respected, or loved. 

As we embark upon the holiday season and, for many, more time with family.  If you are someone who struggles spending time with family, try observing your family dynamic for clues about how your family may asking for connection.  The observations could help you know your family from a different perspective.

Hint: Sometimes the signals people give when they are reaching for connection are unhealthy and often the person is unaware of how they come across.

Their villainy and my virtue

“As long as we maintain a picture of others’ villainy and our own virtue, we feel morally justified in our anger or frustration.” - Joseph Grenny, Vital Smarts

I read this quote as part of a response from Joseph Grenny to a reader about a specific situation in that reader’s life.  I stopped and re-read it because the truth of this statement has depth and extension into a myriad of life’s interactions with other people. 

  • How do you view those with political views different from yours? How do you speak about them?

  • What about those who have different religious views from you?

  • How do you see people who grew up in different parts of your country? World?

  • How do you view those who are really wealthy? Those who are in poverty?

  • What do you believe about the person who just cut you off in traffic?

  • What do you think about the person at work who doesn’t do what you expect or who seems to be guarding their turf?

The answers contain stories that you may have begun to believe. That belief will help you feel justified.  It may also keep you feeling tense and angry, giving the situation unnecessary energy and power that keeps you from living with contentment and peace. It may rob you of humor and joy. 

Are there any of your stories that might be worth re-examining?

Toxic Commodities

Here are few “commodities” at work that, when valued over people and true collaboration, may indicate that a toxic culture pervades: Job grades, power plays such as making people always walk to you, protecting common information, gossip, and presuming the worst the most of others & having the freedom and audience to share it.  This list is not exhaustive.  

Ideally, commodities at work would include some of the following: ability to create solutions, being curious, willingness to seek others’ input, giving credit publicly to other people and teams, right-placing people in roles, and possessing a spirit of teaching and sharing knowledge.