Wouldn’t it be great if from now on you could always understand what is going on in the heads of your colleagues or the boss? No more cumbersome guesswork as to why your dear colleagues suddenly behave so strangely. No more wild guesses as to what might have gone down the boss’s liver. No more semi-silly interpretations, interpretations of behavior, and stupid misunderstandings. Today I’ll tell you which ingenious trick you can use to easily see through your colleagues. You will be surprised!
See through colleagues: That’s how it works so far – not!
Most likely, you are already a master at meticulously observing the behavior of those around you. You analyze it, relate it to other observations and your previous experiences, and create a perfectly constructed world for yourself.
“Since the miller was told off by the boss, Meier has just been in a bad mood and messes with me all the time. And the boss has always been looking so funny lately. Certainly, because I’m going on a break with the miller. And now he’s sure to target me too!”
It is often a mixture of observing behavior, snapping up snippets of conversation, a combination of previous experiences, and subsequent interpretation. The findings are then confirmed by gossiping during the break or over the radio: “Have you already noticed…?”, “What is he … up to?”
Interpretations are self-constructed truths
Supposed truths are created from observation and interpretation. Hypotheses become facts. We do that all the time, umpteen times a day. Without questioning all of that. Why should it? After all, it’s totally clear – isn’t it?
If all of this were so clear, why do so many misunderstandings arise when dealing with one another? Unclear orders from the boss, unspoken feelings among colleagues, uncertainty, envy, resentment, perceived injustice, lack of recognition, and, in the end, often mistakes.
And when the barrel has already overflowed, the real findings come about: “That was not what I meant!”, “How could I have known that you…?” or also nice: “You could have said that…”. What were once incontrovertible truths suddenly turn into reproaches or unfair attempts at explanations.
The idea of seeing exactly such truths as a hypothesis, questioning them, and listening carefully to what is really going on, we come to less and less. Constructed truths seem more welcome than real truths in a fast-paced world.
Because today it just has to be quick? Because real interest is actually threatened with extinction? Maybe also because they fit perfectly into our own worldview. Or they are a confirmation and at the same time permission for your own behavior towards other people. Or because office gossip connects and complainers coalitions are fleeting balm for the stressed soul. Or quite simply: Because we are afraid of the real truth.
Any form of stereotyped thinking is based on observation, interpretation, and self-constructed truth. Sometimes it is helpful and good to only have to open a drawer, but more and more it is becoming a convenient habit in my perception. Open the drawer, put your own truth in, close the drawer. Done.
A development that for each individual means perhaps rational, because energy-saving action in an increasingly dynamic and complex (work) world, but with increasing frequency in dealing with one another, for example, in teams or projects, but also partnerships and families leads to misinterpretations and thus misunderstandings and all of this costs even more energy in the end.
The ingeniously simple trick for a better perspective: ask!
I just had to take it linguistically to the extreme in this post, because so often in coaching I have the feeling that it is a groundbreaking discovery:
“Oh yes, that’s right! I could just ask! ”
It is astonishing how far away this so obvious and also a human solution in our heads is often today.
Instead, you continue to think about it and make wild guesses, after all, such concerns probably haunt your head when it comes to clear things: “You can’t do that!” – “You ask something like that (the boss)!” – “What does that look like? ” – “What should he/she think?”.
My tip: Try it first in a situation in which your “inner voice” does not fear too bad consequences.
State clearly what is on your mind and thereby consciously detach yourself from your hypothetical truths. Listen to others actively and try to understand the point of view of your counterpart and to compare it with your perspectives and opinions.
Make sure that your questions do not get across as reproaches. This works well when you speak from the first-person perspective: “I noticed that…” – “I observed…” – “I wonder if…”. Objectively describe your observations, the feelings they have aroused in you, and formulate the question you are asking yourself. This is the only way your counterpart has a chance to understand your perspective, your thoughts, and emotions and can react to them.
How does your counterpart react? Does it get you any further? Does the conversation create more clarity? When you get into a little more practice, you will probably feel that working with colleagues and the boss, and your life as a whole, become easier. Presumably, the behavior of the people around you will also change, you might even become a good role model?
Clarity creates ease: colleagues understand instead of see through.
Every concern in my coaching with executives and also with employees who have problems with their boss can be traced back to a lack of clarity.
Bosses who don’t know what is important to their employees at work. Those who delegate unclearly (or not at all) and do not adequately communicate tasks. Bosses who sweep criticism under the rug and take a cuddle course instead of giving proper feedback. People who give their emotions at the reception and become the perfect actor with a professional head mask. Who do not say when they are feeling bad, do not want to be disturbed, or they are annoyed about something.
On the other hand: employees who do not know what is important to the boss and who cannot interpret his behavior. Who does not know what their tasks and their areas of responsibility and decision-making powers are? Those who have the feeling that, as hard-working workers, they are not allowed to think along. People who feel restricted in their freedom of action, but who also lack the framework for good teamwork.
Such a lack of clarity is usually the result of inadequate communication and a gap that is instead sought to be filled through interpretation.
Is there anything that speaks against asking your own employees what is important to them, how they are doing, and what they think about certain topics? Asking them what they can do to help solve a particular problem. Or to ask employees what expectations they have of good leadership? Such questions shouldn’t be a guessing game, however, I wrote a clear text about this here on XING recently.
As an employee, do you think that your boss will cut your head or give you immediate notice if you want more clarity and ask? When you do not understand things, but it is important to you to understand the context or the deeper meaning. When you cannot interpret your boss’s behavior, and it worries or worries you. Bring it up before the thought-carousel in your head picks up too much and leads you astray. Interpretation of behavior is imprecise and inefficient. Clarity creates ease in being together. Understanding instead of looking through, then it will also work with the boss and colleagues.