I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and he was discussing his current relationship, and during the conversation those familiar words “I don’t understand why …” came up. Immediately it reminded me of a few years back, when my girlfriends and I decided we needed to write a book called “I Don’t understand”, given how many times we would say things like “he said this, so why did he then do that? Why is he now acting that way – I don’t understand!” And of course, men are saying it just as much!!
If you think back over your life, how many times have you said you don’t understand the reactions or behaviour of someone? This could be about your partner or someone you’re starting to build a relationship with, but you are likely to also spot these thoughts in the workplace.
You don’t understand why your boss has decided something and doesn’t realise what affect it’ll have on your team members, you don’t understand why some people are OK about being late for meetings, you don’t understand why some seem so uptight about always being on time for meetings, you don’t understand why someone has got upset about a comment you made, or hasn’t done what you thought you’d so clearly asked them to do.
Sound familiar? More often than not, our emotions are tangled up in our view of what’s been happening – and that’s true whether we’re talking about our personal or our work life. The key is to be able to understand our “ways” and our trigger points, and to see the communication with the other person for what it actually is, rather than blinkered by our own feelings, insecurities and emotions.
There are many leadership skills and management tools that I use which really help give clarity around the different ways each of us prefer to communicate, make decisions, are motivated, like to organise our lives etc. Within my executive coaching, I use tools such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument™ (TKI™). These are great steps to understand different behaviours and develop effective communication skills. In addition to those, there are numerous other coaching techniques which can help people to truly understand themselves and then the amazing breadth of characters in their teams.
That doesn’t mean you will never say “I don’t understand” again – I still catch myself saying it every now and then, believe me! But it certainly can give you a wealth of knowledge to help you get there. And that can only make life easier – at home and in the work place.
Find out more about self-awareness, or download a FREE 24-page report “8 Tips to Achieving Employee Motivation with No Budget”.