Click here to read part 1 from last week
Sometimes choosing different behavior is all we need. Other times we know what we should do, but find ourselves not following through.
Imagine that my team has told me to stop accepting conflictual behavior and start holding folks accountable for improving productivity—which I had previously agreed to do, but never did. To change my problematic behavior I need to notice what emotions and thoughts come up when an opportunity to follow-through arises. I notice that I become anxious when I think about disciplining a member of my team. When I ask myself what I’m anxious about, I realize that I’m afraid of being thought of as unfair and that I won’t be liked anymore. Hmm, interesting! Why don’t I just choose to stop feeling anxious and get on with what I know I need to do?
Most of us know that is easier said than done. I might have better success choosing to change my thought process to one that tells me that if I don’t start holding my folks accountable that I could lose my job. That could work. But, it leaves me in a state of conflict with myself—I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. What a mess. More stress.
Instead, I can ask myself: On what beliefs are my thoughts based? As I look to see what they might be I notice a series of related beliefs:
1. I must be liked to feel good about myself.
2. To be liked I must be seen as fair.
3. The perceptions of other people are more important than my perception of myself.
I believe those things because that’s how my world worked when I was a kid. When my parents seemed to like me they did things that I liked. And, they always seemed unhappy with me when they told me I was being unfair even when I didn’t think I was being unfair. Now I ask myself: How applicable and/or useful are those beliefs to my current situation and goals? The answer, of course, is not very.
This gives me the opportunity to consciously and intentionally choose a set of beliefs that are based on the sound and current data of the present where I am an adult, not a child. I can choose to believe that holding my team members accountable for working with each other supportively will result in increased productivity! And a more pleasant working environment will increase their respect for me. And, if they respect me more they will even like me more.
Besides, my self-esteem need not be dependent on their liking me. I can choose to approve of myself rather than depend solely on others approving of me.
Behavior (Action) is driven by our emotions – our vehicle of motivation. What we don’t care about, we don’t do. The caring might be in the form of joy, anger, fear, or love. They are all emotions without which we do much of nothing.
Emotions are driven by our thoughts, which we use to make meaning of the events in which we are involved. The meaning we make may not or may reflect the actual nature of the event depending on our automatic interpretations and assumptions. Often our interpretations and assumptions sufficiently match sound and current data and are useful. However, in situations that are important to us do we want to trust “often?”
Thoughts are driven by our beliefs. If I believe that my thoughts (including the meaning that I make of an event) reflect the actuality without the need for further checking, I increase the probability of having my emotional response and subsequent behavior be off target. Of course, with such a belief we will also believe that our being off target is not our fault but is that of somebody or something else.
Beliefs are based on a combination of what we’ve learned from past experience, what we’ve been socialized to believe by our caretakers, teachers, friends, and society in general, plus whatever we invent as truth. A highly problematic belief is that they (my beliefs) represent the reality of the present. Such a belief will effectively prevent the taking in or use of sound and current data.
Each of our behaviors, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs is a choice point reflecting a level of possible mastery of conscious use of self. Mastery at the level of behavior—where our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs may be incongruent with our behavior—is a general (though often misplaced) expectation of adults in our society. Mastery at the level of emotions and thought is often the province of healthy adults who have done their share of introspection, personal growth and often therapy. Mastery at the level of beliefs is akin to wisdom calling for understanding that our egos and minds are not who we are, whose dictates we must follow, but simple tools for our full selves to use at conscious choice.
As we move toward deeper and deeper levels of conscious choice about how we use ourselves, we will be more and more able to behave in such a manner that the systems within which we wish to live and manage change will respond to us in ways consonant with our goals and intentions.
The strongest relationships, which allow the most influence simply for the asking, are built over time and have been tempered through hard times. These relationships have become worthy of trust. Therefore, trust is an outcome of high quality relationships. It is also critical aspect of relationships where ready influence is needed. We’re talking about broad-scale trust. I might trust you for specific things like getting to work on time or even getting a project done well. However, to trust you to the point of readily using my energy on your behalf I must trust you in a larger way. This level of trust is a sense of confidence that someone will consistently behave in ways that will support our well-being—good intentions by themselves are insufficient.
There are five primary aspects of trust. They are…
3. Keeping agreements
Honesty is fairly straightforward. It means that I can be confident that you tell me the truth as best you know it—you won’t knowingly lie to me.
Openness that leads toward greater trust means you will share—on your own initiative and on request—with me any information or thoughts you have that will allow me to make better informed decisions and to know you better—intellectually and emotionally. If you are open with me you will not allow me to mislead myself about your intentions or expectations.
Keeping agreements is doing what you’ve said you would do when you said you would do it.
Understanding as an aspect of trust requires more exploration. To trust you with my well–being—personal or organizational—I need know that you understand me. I need know that you understand my goals, my values, my motivations, and what well-being is to me. I might believe in your good intentions regarding my well-being, however, if I sense that you do not understand me I will not be able trust that you will behave in accord with my well-being.
Loyalty has to do with support in the face of adversity. It is critical if I’m to trust you during difficult times. Hanging together during tough times—when budgets are being cut, when strategies are failing, when a promotion is at stake that only one of you can have—pays dividends. Honesty, openness, keeping agreements, understanding, and loyalty are the keys to building and maintaining the type of trust that signifies the quality relationship that allows for significant amounts of ready influence.
Excerpted from The Infinite Organization by me