Eagerness or disregard

Recently I participated in a discussion with someone who kept interrupting me. At first the interruptions seemed like eagerness. The more it was done, I found myself getting both irritated by it and curious about the reason they were doing so.  It would be easy to make presumptions about their reasoning for doing so, however, that would also be unproductive.  Nonetheless, the constant interruptions felt like disregard.

In this particular situation, what I realized is that they may have perceived that my motives were not sincere.  Taking the time to explain my motives and intentions did deviate from the agenda. However, doing so helped us to achieve the goal.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel disregarded, take a moment to reflect on the bigger picture and consider what the other person may be perceiving.  Then ask them questions about what you perceive.  It may result in a much more collaborative solution.

Mitigating expectations in vision

Yesterday, I shared an observation about a leader answering a question and not hearing the major concern that was implied in the question.  This was likely because the leader saw a vision and did not want to lose focus.

Leaders sometimes see a vision that the rest of the organization may not yet see.  Being aware of this provides opportunity to mitigate issues that arise from different expectations.  Enlist advocates of the vision to help the organization move forward. Encourage these advocates to listen to feedback from the organization and work to provide guidance.  

Limits of vision

Recently, I observed a meeting between an executive leader and their top-level managers.  The executive leader outlined changes coming and encouraged the managers to simplify and move quicker.  

Someone asked (not verbatim): “I agree on the direction and understand that some existing priorities are to remain must-do tasks and deliverables.  Will there be any changes in priorities in order to achieve the new direction?”  

The response provided (not verbatim): “We must stop asking questions like these and focus on delivering.”  Their answer expounded further about the unfruitfulness of the question that was asked.

People ask questions for guidance, to clear the path because they are stuck, or because they understand limited time/resources/money and want to ensure they and their teams are aligned. 

Our organizations will only achieve the limits that we set for them: Those limits may reach to outer space.  Or, those limits may extend only to our ability to hear what is being asked. 

Common ground

Sometimes when issues are complicated, it is quicker and easier to react and justify our actions than to admit there may be errors and uncertainty.  To admit that we are fearful, shocked.  To admit that we don’t know what the solution is.  To admit that we want a particular outcome for a particular reason.  But the admittance of these things is what connect us to each other.  These are the very things that give us commonality to the person we disagree with. 

And finding common ground is where to begin to work together.

Severing integrity

One of the topics that I train teams and organizations on digs into some very specific ways to use techniques that de-escalate issues and decrease the duration of an issue.  

When I speak on this, I like to show “skills” or “techniques” that increase the duration of an issue, increase intensity, and increase the number of people involved.  These are known to damage or sever relationships when used consistently.  

  • Winning at all costs

  • Displaying anger

  • Demeaning others

  • Retaliating

  • Avoiding

  • Yielding

  • Hiding emotions

  • Self-criticizing

One of the hardest things to do is to hear a perspective that you disagree with at your core.  To acknowledge that even while disagreeing with someone who you may not even like, that they have made a valid point.  To acknowledge that our own experience creates a bias and a blind spot and that makes us angry.  

Injustice should make us angry.  Trading injustices should also make us angry.  We sever integrity and respect when we employ or cheer the very actions we previously lambasted. 

Foundations of Respect

The past couple weeks in the U.S. has seen news filled with divisiveness and hatred from all walks of the political spectrum.  Individual social media posts have reflected much of the same as people have taken positions.   

It is so difficult in highly charged situations to withhold blame and engage in respectful ways.  To not retaliate.  Ideally, those who lead would help model this.  In the absence of such, the onus remains on each person to do so. 

This, in addition to other conversations I’ve had and material I’ve engaged in, prodded me to dig into some of the ways we demonstrate and show respect to others:

  • Listen

  • Encourage

  • Acknowledge

  • Expresses appreciation

  • Honor / enforce confidentiality

This list simply is an initial list, and I am sure you have ideas that can be added here.  None of these enlist agreement with someone else. They all demonstrate curiosity to understand and value of the other person.  These are foundational for communication – especially when we disagree.