What the Heck?!
Let’s face it – on a daily basis, someone will do something you don’t like. Here’s your moment of truth. Whether it’s cutting you off in traffic, not replying to an email within your timeframe, or not following a specific process…it will happen. And when it does, what’s your first thought?
I know…It depends. I hate that response, though it may be true. Let’s talk about when someone cuts you off in traffic. Do you yell at the person? Shake your fist? Or something more drastic? Do you ever think, “What the heck?! Learn how to drive!”
Now let me ask you a different question: Have you ever cut someone off in traffic? Did you do it on purpose? Most people would answer that question, “No!” But it does happen. When the person cut you off in traffic, do you think they did it on purpose? Probably not.
And there it is: A moment of truth. That moment when something goes wrong and we make a choice in how to respond. There are things that happen to us that we don’t like, unintentionally or by accident, and we assign meaning to those things. Do we choose to see things from their perspective, or do we believe they had a negative intention? If we assign meaning to a situation, it’s an assumption.
Think about a simple work-related situation: you have implemented a new process. It’s written for everyone to reference, you’ve trained on the process, but you find that you have an employee who isn’t following it. At some point, you might have thoughts like, “He’s just being lazy,” or “He has an attitude problem.” At that point, you’ve assumed what the problem is. You’ve assumed that the employee doesn’t care. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to go find out why the process isn’t being followed? Or just as easy to find out if there is something that he’s struggling with?
Think of the energy that is wasted in assuming the cause of a behavior. Think of how you will treat the person based upon your assumption (remember, this is an opinion, not a fact). We start resenting that person when really, we just don’t like what he’s doing. And all along, he just might need help with something or a little bit of clarification.
So the next time you find yourself with a moment of truth, think about your choices. Are you making assumptions, or are you trying to understand the other person’s perspective? Looking at a situation from the perspective of the other person and better yet, understanding that perspective goes a long way in building trust…and that’s what we’re looking for: TRUST. That’s how strong relationships are built.