Last week, we talked about being more self-aware. While that’s important, we must make sure we aren’t allowing the pendulum to swing too far in the direction of becoming self-absorbed. It’s not always about you. Your perspective isn’t the only one. Your feelings aren’t the only ones that matter.
Have you ever been in a situation where you fully expected the other person to respond in one way, and they surprised you by responding in a completely different way?
How did you adjust your response back to them?
You walk into your boss’s office prepared to defend your team’s actions. You expect a lot of pushback and maybe some stern words. Once you lay it out to your boss, he tells you you’ve done a great job of handling the situation and to keep him posted on the progress. You’re deflated. It wasn’t the reaction you were expecting at all. Do you remain defensive? Or are you able to be behaviorally agile and adjust?
You check your team’s dashboard for an update on a team member’s progress. You see that several items due today are not yet completed. You feel angry, frustrated, and anxious about how this will affect everyone else. You call the team member to your office to find out what’s going on. You can see from their face as they walk in that they are super stressed out. Do you go on the attack and start demanding answers? Or are you able to adjust and soften your intended tone in light of the distress you can see on their face?
As a person with what some would describe (politely) as a strong personality, I can attest to the fact that our mouths do sometimes run on autopilot. But that’s not acceptable. Because it’s not about how we feel. It’s about how the other person is feeling. Raising our awareness of others means how the other person feels, especially in response to something we’ve said, matters. A lot. It also means we have a responsibility to pay attention to those cues and when necessary, adjust.