"She thinks she can decide everything." "Yeah, she's always busy saving her own ass." Do you know thoughts or expressions like these? Our brain has a built-in tendency to create meaning in what we experience, so that we can quickly orientate ourselves and find appropriate answers to what we experience. Therefore, we interpret each other.
It is the ability to understand and adapt that has made homo sapiens so successful on earth. A particular silhouette on the horizon called for action, although we didn't know for sure that it was a lion. The rustle in the leaves – maybe a snake. Interpretations are a quick way to create security, but it is not effective in day-to-day collaboration.
When we categorize someone, we shut off to understand what really drives them. It can cause discord and conflict. If we manage to meet our colleagues curiously, there is a much greater chance that we can ask for assistance when needed and help each other to get the tasks done.
Curiosity is antidote
A curious approach to the examples in the introduction could instead provide the following dialogue:
“When you ask me to write this report, is it because you're busy with other things yourself? And you think I have a better time than you? ”
"Yes, I know you finished your teaching yesterday, and this is burning, deadline 30."
"I'm actually busy with the exhibition next month, so it suits me really badly to take on more assignments".
“Oh - I had forgotten that. Pardon. I myself am so busy with my project accounts so I do not see what is happening around me. It really was not my intention to buzz you. But what do I do then? ”
Now I'm no longer hostile and I want to help the colleague out of the pressured situation. I might say:
"Could the deadline be negotiated?" or "If you can get me help with the exhibition, I would like to look at the report" or "Could we ask for assistance from another department for the project accounts?"
There is a need behind every action
Many opportunities suddenly arise when we see each other's intentions with the actions and expressions that came a moment before us. The needs we or the other tried to be met. All it takes is attention to our own reactions and communication, and awareness of our needs as humans. Why is not it just what we do?
The brain is lazy. It wants to economize with energy, and categorization requires much less energy than curious research. We are victims of our own instinctive tendency to save on the forces when we give ourselves into interpretations in thoughts or words instead of wonder.
However, judging by the number of fitness centers we can well decide to do something that requires more energy.
In addition, a culture can easily arise in a workplace where someone talks behind others' backs. Here we are driven by the need to belong, and we get that covered when we define that there are others to whom we do not belong. In a workplace, it can provide fertile ground for bullying and stress.
There is therefore a lot to gain from using a little extra energy and trying with curiosity when someone else's actions bump into us.
The next time you think of an interpretive thought about a colleague, try asking yourself, “What is driving this person? And what is important (and perhaps unfulfilled) to me since I interpret? ”