Last week, we talked about how to handle a situation if you become labeled the problem. We heard from many of you that similar scenarios had played out in your lives and that you were hurt by the experience.
So today, we’re expanding last week’s post to talk more about this issue.
We know it doesn’t feel this way, but it’s important to remember that most of the time other people’s actions and reactions are not personal to you. Other people are busy being themselves and you’re but a minor player on their stage.
Consider last week’s post, Janet was frustrated with Harvey because he kept “getting into the weeds” when she was trying to plan for the future. She experienced him as derailing her, and so she started to work around him. She experienced him as personally impeding her ability to get her job done.
Yet, Harvey was just being Harvey. His brain is wired to look at details. He gets lost when asked to look into the future, so he brings the conversation back to the place where he is most comfortable.
As a leader in this situation (even if that wasn’t her title) Janet needed to pause and remind herself of her goals and explore Harvey’s behavior.
Pausing could have helped her to not take personally Harvey’s preferred way of thinking. Pausing could have helped her shift the conversation from antagonistic to productive by naming what was happening and creating a process to support Harvey in thinking with her about the future.
Often, when you can name what’s going on, in a non-blaming fashion, you influence how the conversation unfolds.
In this instance, we coached Janet to say, “Harvey, I appreciate your desire to get to the process of how this will happen. From my perspective, we’re still working together to decide where we will go in the future. Once we have that nailed down, I would love your thoughts on the how.”
Janet was trying to talk about WHERE they were going (vision, goal, etc.), and Harvey got caught in talking about HOW they were going to get there (steps, processes, etc.). Both are important parts of the conversation and they needed to be accomplished in the right order. They couldn’t talk productively about HOW until they understood WHERE they were heading.
It takes personal leadership to keep yourself on track and to help others stay on track with the conversation.
If you’re a person who likes to visualize the big picture, you need someone in your court who sees the detail required to enact that vision. But, you need them on your side of the court – not playing against you.
This week, see if you can identify your preferred way of thinking – are you a big picture thinker or are you a detail thinker? And then think about your colleagues and how they think.
Understanding how others engage the world with their brain will go a long way in helping you not take things personally and be more effective in all your relationships.
~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather