Labels on the way…
In considering the relation between two colleagues let us think of the communication as a national highway. Now, the moment the highway gets clogged with traffic, it is difficult to pass through and reach out.
Mostly the traffic is populated by labels that we build based on our experiences with others, and perception of others. Now the labels which are the root cause of the traffic are mostly negative and worst, made to be very less mutable. And empirically, they tend to attract larger negative labels to worsen the traffic conditions.
Let me describe couple of labels here:
Manager: He is a bag of excuses and misconceptions
Team member: He is too bossy, and that too being so non-technical
Team member 1: Member 2 has all the time for all activities except the ones on highest priority
Team member 2: Member 1 thinks everybody in this world should be and work like he does
Manager: He is too wishy washy
Team member: He is too cunning
Try doing it yourself and you’ll know what I am talking about.
Think of your couple of colleagues and try to label them using the below options
Play the favourite,
Shiny shiny without content
… and the list goes on.
Now for all the negative labels you mapped to your colleagues, try to think of which ones are changeable or which ones you’d prefer to give another chance of understanding and rethink about them. Very few, right?
Now you understand what are negative labels or precisely barrier labels and how they play role in building traffic.
So how to get through the traffic or even better, how to avoid traffic in future.
A clue: Do you deal with someone who is too “bossy” or “opinionated”? Those seemingly negative traits may actually provide clues to that person’s talents and strengths. Or with some expertise, to that person’s past and upbringing as well such that he becomes predictable.
Yes, play their lawyer. This is what I usually do. While playing their lawyer, think of the behaviour that lead to building that barrier label, and, further, what got such type of behaviour in him. This is where you start thinking of the other person as an equal human as you are. You would start putting yourself in his shoes and then try reaching out to discuss that how differently would you react to the given situation so that such behaviour is not realised/practised at all.
Thought leaders have more responsibility to identify, and challenge any barrier labels within their circle of people and more importantly use them as clues to understand people’s talents and strengths.
We talked about knowing what barrier labels are and dealing with them to avoid them or stop them from being created.
Now how to use them as clues to a person’s talent and strengths? (This needs a prior good amount of practice of identifying barrier labels and understanding their origin)
The key is to understand the Signature theme of a person. Signature theme is some positive trait (probable hidden from you till date) that leads to progress for that person.
For example, if someone is really bossy, then ask her/him to drive an activity and test out the quality of the commands he gives out. It may result in something right? (you see what I am trying to say here?)
So, bossiness can be seen as having good quality of commanding skills, opinionated can mean to have quality decisiveness, one may identify what good is actually hidden behind the shiny interface, Play-the-favourites with a little extra appreciation can out-perform himself let aside others, Inflexibles may get some directions to stretch,,,,and the list goes on once again but with a moving traffic and hopefully an express way down the line.
In general this practice expands our analysis of others until the barrier labels are broken.
By gaining a deeper understanding of their greatest talents, people become more sophisticated and successful in their approaches to using them. They also begin to interact more positively with each other based on this understanding.
This was about us labelling others and us trying to get rid of the barrier labels.
What if we are labelled.
Now this is dangerous and eye-opening both at a time. Dangerous, when we accept it to be good and continue within the given label boundaries.
Eye-opening, when we tend to challenge the label and in the process bring the best out.
People more than often try to bind us into labels because we are more predictable like that and that would be very convenient to all but us.
My personal mantra is to break the label, or move on to create new ones.
Recently practiced that but will share that story some other time.
Please let me know if you like this, if you want more of this from me, or any comments you may have on this.