Thursday, March 29, 2018

Intentions vs Behaviors


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Stephen Covey fan. I was recently reacquainted with one of his great insights on the way we judge others and ourselves. Inaccurate assumptions lead to mistrust, strained relationships, and disengagement. On the other hand, a judgment-free workplace promotes strong teamwork and loyalty - everyone wants a leader who is in their corner. Think about how you judge and are judged by others. 

Seeing It From the Other Side

Stephen Covey has said that we judge others on their behavior and we judge ourselves on our intentions. What would happen if we reversed that thinking?

Wouldn't your team be more creative if they experienced less judgment in the workplace? Wouldn't there be less stress if everyone felt accepted and understood?  Consider doing a brief but easy exercise to learn more about perceptions.

Imagine seeing yourself from someone else's point of view. They do not have the benefit of knowing how you think. They do not get insight into your rationale when you make decisions. They only see what you do and what you say. For one week, spend the last 10 minutes of each workday writing down the names of the people you interacted with that day and, thinking about your behavior only, list the adjectives they would give if asked to describe you. Now make a list of everyone you interacted with and how you judged them that day.

On the flip side, since we don't have the ability to read someone else's mind, we make a lot of assumptions about why someone behaves the way they do. What if you spent one week conscientiously assuming everyone had the best intentions?  Even bad behavior can be driven by someone trying to do the right thing and being stymied by the actions of others. Catch yourself before judging someone else negatively and instead consider any and all positive motives. Choose one of those.

Done earnestly, this will be a very enlightening exercise increasing your self-awareness and empathy. What have you got to lose?

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