Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tool / technique to be considerate!!

Life answers our questions in different ways! Sometimes, we learn from experience, sometimes an unrelated event answers the questions, sometimes an experienced person (age does not matter - they should just have the experience in the relevant subject) teaches! This article is based on an interesting input I got from one of the conferences I attended recently. Before I attended the conference, I was wondering if there is a tool to make people  considerate and was I concerned!

A wonderful presenter talked about how can we shake our own beliefs / expectations about the various "rules" we have in our mind and start to be more considerate. These rules are typically the "tolerance" questions! These are the rules we hold sacred irrespective of whether we follow it all the time or not. Please note, if we hold "never lie" rule does not necessarily mean we do not lie always; it could just mean that we do not like others to lie to us :-)

He made us write the rules that are so dear to us - the rules that will make us go mad if broken or we hold others by the neck if they do not follow it. For example if you think people should be on time for the meeting, then you would write "I must always come to the meetings on time". Then he asked us to replace the "must" with "can"; your rule would now read as "I can always come to the meetings on time".  When you write this statement you can realise that not everyone can always come on time; you can feel your attitude changing slowly; this sentence feels more right than the previous one! Then he asked us to replace the "always" with "sometimes". So your sentence would read "I can sometimes come to the meetings on time" - Ah! You feel the sentence is wrong again! You will start counting the scenarios when things can go awfully wrong if people are late! Add them as your constraints with a "when" clause "I can sometimes come to the meetings on time when a) the meeting is to decide product launch date b) the meeting involves people from ….." and so on

It was interesting to note that no one volunteered to share their rule to discuss how it felt, after a 10 minute exercise! We do have a lot of such filters and rules; but it is hard for us to accept that we have such rules, especially in front of a group of people who were sensitised about these filters and undue expectations induced by these filters!! But we do that all the time! We yell at people, silently make a mental note that someone is bad or penalise them in different ways just because they are different from us! Sometimes intentionally, many times unintentionally! All these "30 seconds" first impression issues arise as a result of these filters! Most of the relationships - both professional and personal - strain because of these filters!

I will add a step to the above process. Because our rules are usually for others, I will prefer to write it as "Everyone must always come on time to meetings". It feels 100% right. Then "everyone" to "I" - I will change it to "I must always come on time to meetings". This brings the first level turn in most cases in my opinion.

Think of a person you interact frequently and rate them for the following statements in a three scale score i) always ii) it depends iii) not at all.  "He/She is out right in sharing opinions" and "He/She forgives mistakes of others". After that, rate yourself for the same statements. Most likely, you chose an always or not at all option for the other person and it depends for yourself. That is because you know when you withheld sharing a opinion you wanted to share or vice versa but you do not know the same for the other person. Usually when it comes to others, we tend to favour a binary response but when it comes to us things start to become fuzzy. That is why I feel, it is better to write the rule for "Everyone" and then change it to "I". This can alter our attitude towards the statement at the first level. And then follow the rest of the steps. You will come up with decent set of guidance for your group!

I have started removing my filters slowly! Sure it is not easy! But I keep reminding myself that I am not born with these filters; they came to me / I acquired them over a period. Most often, I did not even choose them! I learnt them mostly unconsciously, at best, subconsciously. When conscious choices themselves do not apply universally, why defend something that was not a conscious choice! Why carry a cross painstakingly! 

Let us remove filters! Let us be considerate! Let us be more human!

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