September 22

What are you like?

"I thought you'd given up doing that, so  you'd not get migraines any more?" "Ahh, but you know what I'm like..."

We've all heard people say this, in many contexts. Sometimes, it's even our own voice speaking. And yet we don't seem to learn. We  seem unable to do 'better' - to stick to our commitments - despite knowing that they'll make out lives better.

It's incredibly frustrating as a manager when we hear this. More often than not, it relates to a stressful situation that could have been avoided if only better choices were made. We just don't seem to be able to help ourselves!

What can we do about it?

What often lies behind these words is something like this: "It's not my fault, I'm just made like this. I'm powerless to change"

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The challenge is that what often lies behind these words is something like this: "It's not my fault, I'm just made like this, I'm powerless to change". One thing we can be sure of is that they (ok, we!) are right. What we believe in our hearts we achieve in our lives. Especially when it's a negative thought cycle.

What we don't know, in most cases, is what to say or do when these limiting beliefs show up. 

As always, it depends. Not just on our knowledge, mutual respect and rapport, but on how it's said - where the emphasis is placed.

Imagine hearing it with the emphasis on each key word: You. I'm. Like... Where we 'tonally mark' indicates what's really important to us, and therefore what the belief is founded on. A strong "You" could mean only you (the listener) can help. Emphasis placed on the "I" could point to lower self esteem of the form "I'm so much less able than you". Emphasis on 'Like' is slightly different. A good question might be "Yes, but do you like it?" (This is a simplified version of one of Jerry Colonna's questions - read more in "Reboot..."*

As always, we need to seek first to understand. By asking a good open question. And once their thinking opens up, we can extend well by exploring what they want instead - as there's usually an implied "but" at the end. So why not ask about that. Or try replacing it with "Yet". 

Feedback is the key

Giving useful feedback using the NICER model (here...) you might say something like:

"I've noticed that you often say that and how it impacts on how you're feeling. So I'm wondering if you mean it to tell me that you're powerless to do otherwise. Is that right? What would have to happen for it to be different? Because that could have a profound effect for your future, couldn't it?"

What's your part in this?

Lastly, it's important to consider how you personally (as a leader) might have inadvertently conditioned or encouraged this way of thinking. So don't agree - which is the easiest thing to do - but instead, ask a powerful question or two. Give some feedback. Refuse to take the monkey off their back.

And if it's you saying it? Consider this: How hard have you tried for it to be otherwise?

As always, these are just some ingredients. Now its your turn to cook.

That's all for today. If you've questions or comments, drop me a line below or get in touch.

Please note: A *indicates a link to an external site from which I may receive a small referral fee. You won't pay any extra though. You may be able to find a 'standard' link instead if you prefer.


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