A word to Readers of "Re-orient (Re-write)!" This is a second version of the blog "Re-orient!" I am doing this for a few reasons, the *main* one being to give "students" (in the Jack LaLanne sense of the word) a chance to see how the next draft of written work can be shortened, improved, or both. Enjoy the read (or reads, if you wish). Here goes:
Every now and then, "re-orientation" is in order. After an engaging April, I want to focus on 're-orientation," seen from a few different angles. I hope that at least one of the angles catches your eye and leads to improved work relationships.
Back in March, I summarized David Maister's "Trust Equation" you can find right here:
According to the Trust Equation, the factor that directly reduces trust is "self-orientation." So my first whack at "re-orient" is a plea with anyone struggling with a professional relationship (boss, colleague, subordinate, etc.) is to reduce your "self-orientation." Empathize. That is, "Walk a mile in the others' shoes" to see, feel, and express the issue from the other person's point of view. In other words, "re-orient" your perception so as to fully understand where the other person's coming from. Easy to say. Hard to do. Try it. See if you can express the issue from their side so well that they agree with how you present their point of view.
Some Ways to Tell Where Your Orientation Is
If you're engaged in any kind of conflict, here's a sure-fire way to tell whether you are oriented toward yourself or not: Who's doing the talking? And...what are they talking about? If it's you who is talking, unless you're asking the other person to expand on their thoughts, or you are seeking clarification of their words, then you are being self-oriented. If you're saying things like, "You have to understand," or, "Here's how I see it," or you cut them off with, "No," "But...." etc., you will appear self-oriented. If your intent is to "make sure" the other side understands what you are saying for your sake, then you can guess where your orientation is. It's on you. As counselors often ask, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?"
If you meet your boss with a pared-down list of 5 "most important items," you may think you are oriented toward your boss. You've saved the boss from the other issues on your list, right? True. But have you considered whether or not even these 5 items are "important" to your boss? They're important to you, and by extension, you believe, to your firm, but where would your boss rank their importance? How do you know?
There's a fundamental flaw in e-mail programs that allow the sender to identify the importance of a topic. Important to whom? The sender! What about the reader? I found a quote in the New Philosopher Magazine worth reading twice or more in order to grasp its meaning: "Such is the foolishness of mortal beings: when they borrow the smallest, cheapest items, such as can easily be replaced, they acknowledge the debt, but no one considers himself indebted for taking up our time. Yet this is the one loan that even those who are grateful cannot repay."
Seriously, Another Re-orientation
A friend observed that "too many people take themselves too seriously." He believes that you're more likely to succeed if you take your jobs seriously, but not if you take yourself seriously. Funny enough, when I have shared this philosophy, I find some people immediately "get it" and others are simply baffled. "What! Of course I need to take myself seriously!"
Do you? Have you noticed that people who take themselves seriously are less able to laugh at themselves, less likely to recognize the absurdity of the human condition, and, apropos to today's topic, are more likely to be self- rather than other-oriented.
How do you know if you're taking yourself too seriously? Where is your focus? If it's on your own issue(s), that's strike one. If you're stressing out over the issue(s), strike two. Baseball only gives you three strikes, so before you take that third swing, you might want to do a little re-orienting. Re-orienting can help with–what were those other words again? "Rebuild, fix, restore, rejuvenate..." And even if you do strike out, there are more innings left in the game. Re-orient!