In the past two weeks, I’ve been in conversations with people about their desire to change others. These well meaning folk seem to think that TELLING is a viable solution to effecting sustainable change. Some think that the forceful approach is best. One gentleman told me that he was tired of all talk and no action and he intended to “talk some sense” into someone he felt NEEDED to hear what he had to say. When I suggested that perhaps his strong, forceful approach may not yield the results he wanted, he accused me of being too interested in form, whereas he was just focused on substance.
We all have an opinion on how things SHOULD be, how we will do things, and what we definitely won’t do. In our effort to control situations, get our own way, expedite things quickly without wasting too much time on the learning curve we resort to “I’ll have a talk with him/her,” actually BELIEVING that our words will work some kind of magic!
Reality is that our realities change based on the way we see things because of our filters and those influences that skew how we think, what we believe and how we act. I saw this firsthand when I participated in what artist Elspeth Duncan described as a ‘gradually unfolding exhibition.’ Firehorse Fridays was a series of interactive creative sessions meant to culminate in a multimedia exhibition called Firehorse.
The first session started with a black and white painting in layers and textures. Each person attending added random paint marks, or swirls,—whatever you felt moved to apply to the canvas. Afterwards, Elspeth took home the “communal canvas” and began to work on it.
On the second Friday we had to look at a painting of woman for as long as we needed to, until the woman spoke to us. Elspeth recorded each person’s conversation with this canvassed dame. ALL the conversations were different.
On the third Friday we scanned the canvas of the enhanced painting from the first Friday through the lens of a small video camera, up close and personal, and we then spoke aloud about what we saw. Again, NO ONE saw the SAME thing/s.
Which brings me to our penchant for making assumptions; finishing sentences AND jumping to conclusions. Leah McClellan, author of *Find Your Missing Peace – A Practical Guide* says Assumptions can be annoying, frustrating, hurtful, painful, and destructive. They prevent us from seeing clearly, and they can cause us to put others into boxes or frameworks so strong that we can no longer see the realty in front of us.”
So how can we get people to adopt our ideas, do as we say, and trust and follow our lead because we say so? We can’t. Disheartening news I know but the sooner we realize it the better it will be for everybody.
Whenever something happens directly too us or it is part of our experience, there are mental and emotional barriers that influence how we respond. Authors Tish Squillaro and Timothy Thomas call this interference Head Trash and they’ve written a book by the same name. Head Trash refers to thought patterns and emotional tendencies that hinder our ability to respond to issues in a productive and professional way. We all have to take responsibility for our Head Trash. And here’s why…
You might be thinking in the same vein as the gentleman I described in the opening paragraph, “that this is just the way I am. I can be forceful but they listen to me and do as I say.” Or you might be thinking: “I’m not easy to work for, I might even be a jerk but I get things done!”
Squillaro and Thomas tell us that denying the need to deal with Head Trash is a dangerous thing to do. If forced compliance works for you, that’s great but this is how it shows up in your business:
- Your employees are griping constantly and the atmosphere reeks of dysfunction
- Many employees slack off on a regular basis
- Employees are prone to bad mouthing the company and gossiping with others about everything that’s going WRONG behind closed doors.
- Then there are those that just get fed up and leave, taking with them their skills, expertise and intellectual property.
And this is how they talk about you:
- “She is so arrogant and bold-faced! She has no clue what we are doing, yet she constantly wants to control our department.”
- “It drives me crazy. He won’t make a decision. He’s always saying ‘we’ll see’…”
- “I’m tired of working nights and weekends on this when she’s just going to change it anyway.”
- “Why are we going through all this training? Once we’re finished it is back to doing it HER way. This is a complete waste of time!”
The Head Trash authors remind us that a business CANNOT move ahead when its people’s behaviours are holding it back. The damage to net return shows up clearly year after year in the company’s bottom line.
If your attitude is still one where you’re thinking that you don’t have a problem and THEY need fixing, or if you want to blame it on the present crop of employees – it’s up to you. But the reality is that the longer you keep trying to fix THEM, the more money you’ll be losing in the long run.
In a follow up article, I’ll address the “trash” that you need to become aware of so that little by little you can clear your head and be in a much better position to effect a REAL adoption of your ideas and strategies instead forcing and/or bullying people into compliance.