Have you ever caught yourself thinking (or maybe saying), “My employees are SO lazy!? I wish they would think for themselves for once! I’m always having to repeat instructions and follow-up!”
While your thoughts may seem an honest assessment of your employees, are they really?
When you think of your employees, what other assumptions might you be making about them?
If you were to take an honest look at your assumptions, would they accurately reflect your employees?
What if your assumptions about them are FALSE?
What if your employees AREN’T lazy but instead have no obvious path to channel their energy?
What if they AREN’T absentminded but just haven’t been given the proper training?
What if they AREN’T in need of constant direction, but just need more precise guidelines, expectations, and deadlines?
When you communicate with a person while holding negative assumptions about him, the energy of that belief is conveyed to the person through something called, metacommunication. Metacommunication is a language of non-verbal information that helps give meaning to a message and is communicated along with words.
Sometimes the message we communicate through metacommunication is not congruent with our words; when this occurs, the person receives conflicting messages. They don’t know which one to believe, so they tend to side with the metacommunication over the words. This often results in outcomes that are contrary to that which you actually intended.
What action can you take to avoid an incongruency in your message?
Start by writing down your answers to the following questions. Be honest. You are the only one who will see your responses.
- What assumptions do I hold about each of my direct reports?
- What assumptions do I hold about my manager or boss?
- Are these assumptions empowering to the individual or disempowering? In other words, are they positive, encouraging, and supportive?
- Are my assumptions possibly a result of what I think is true about this person?
Once you begin to challenge your own assumptions, the metacommunication drops away, allowing others to become someone other than what we assumed them to be. That’s when more positive results start to occur.
Why not test this process in your environment to see what might happen? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. While you’re at it, try it out on your spouse and children too – it works just the same.
If you run into difficulty with performing this activity, it would be my pleasure to assist you. Contact me at: Cheryl@SimplyTheBestResults.com