It is soooo much easier to see flaws in others. In fact, it is often the key sport of office politics. “You know what a jerk Joe is” or “Katie had another conniption yesterday, what a loser.”
Why is it harder to see our own bad behavior? There is a famous line from a Robert Burns poem,
-“Ah the gift the genie gives us to see ourselves as others see us.”
In the modern world of business we call that a peer to peer review. And even then, it has been my experience that more time is spent attempting to figure out who said what than really listening to what the data indicates.
Here is the key to pay attention to the feedback you get: listen for repetition. Once you begin this practice it may become uncomfortable for a while, however, it is definitely a route to real and sustainable positive change.
That morning started badly. Traffic, rain, hunger pangs from rushing late to the meeting. Then when I was annoyed with the lack of follow through with the team I did my eye rolling “I can’t believe this has still not been handled” performance.
Two folks sitting at the far end of the conference table started to mutter just loud enough for me to hear. “There she goes with the drama thing again.”
I shrugged as I walked past them rushing to another rainy day meeting thinking “Oh well, what do they know. No big deal.”
The next group was ready to rock it when a late member joined in with way too many negatives. He wouldn’t stop. I could feel my blood pressure on the rise. I started the eye rolling (honestly not knowing how big a commotion it made until someone said, “Do you know everyone gets really annoyed when you do that, and you do that a lot.”
I promised I would curtail the eye stuff. However, I really felt what happened was being exaggerated. I wanted to prove my point, that I had a right to be annoyed. I wanted to show the team that my eye rolling was because the late guy was ruining a perfectly good meeting.
Off I went. The next meeting was peaceful and the rain had finally stopped.
I was off the hook. Maybe.
That night my daughter called from college. A frustrating situation was looming and while she could not see my masterful eye rolling she could certainly get my annoyance from my tonality. Her response, “Mom, when you get that dramatic it’s hard to talk so maybe we should touch base tomorrow.” Clink!
Hummmmm, three times in one day. Was it THEM or was it ME? And before sleep I had officially named the first of the 13 patterns in “Don’t Bring It to Work.”
The drama queen in me has been tamed (mostly) into the positive opposite of the story teller. Check out the patterns and see which one you need to change.