We are social beings and are interdependent in interesting ways. Be at work (peers, manager) or in personal life (parents, spouse, siblings, and relatives) or in social life (landlord, the waiter in the restaurant, the Ola cab driver, food delivery man).
When we collaborate for a cause/purpose/common goal, we often put emphasis on people’s title, behaviour, and all other differences. It eventually leads us to get stranded fighting people than the cause that brought us together.
I recently faced a situation where there was a sewage overflow in my apartment complex and the maintenance guy continued to ignore it, even after a couple of days. I got concerned about the hygiene of the surrounding and brought it up to him. To my amazement, I received a startling response.
I know, but few of the residents haven’t paid the maintenance fee, so let it overflow. I want everyone should understand the importance of paying maintenance.
His answer and inaction made me shift the focus on him as a person and his attitude. Because I assumed it is his responsibility to fix it as I pay maintenance. Also, I expected a sensible explanation for his inaction. But, when he did not meet those expectations I was furious, frustrated and felt helpless. As an immediate response, I decided not to pay maintenance anymore. I also decided I’ll take the other way to the office to avoid crossing the sewage pool.
But, my resolute did not hold up for long. For some reason, I was still unhappy and soon realised that I’ve completely missed the purpose of why I raised the issue with him. It is the urge and concern for the health of my family. But, the initial interactions shifted my focus on him than the problem itself.
That little realisation changed my attitude and I started to look for an alternative solution other than confronting or complaining about it to the maintenance guy. Soon, I decided that the next option is to make a complaint at the corporation. Next morning, on the way to the office I started to inquire about the office location and eventually found the guy who is in charge of my residential area. I explained the situation to him and he was very forthcoming he even promised to fix it the following morning. I got his mobile number and returned with an eased mind feeling more in control of the situation.
When I told the maintenance guy that I made a complaint to the corporation and someone will come to fix the overflow, he responded that it is a waste of time and they won’t fix it properly. But, that smallest effort by me made him think I’m serious about fixing the issue and not here just to blame. Where I saw a change in his attitude and he added, ‘I’ll ask the guys who come here regularly and see if they can help’. Eventually, the following morning he arranged people to fix it.
Often we end up fighting the wrong battles, where we react to people and their behaviour when our efforts should have been focused towards the outcome.
But, putting the cause ahead of people will make us take ownership of the results. We’ll align our behaviour to make things happen where we will start to collaborate instead of assuming and extend our hands to get things done than pointing out fingers.
It will not only help to accomplish the desired results but also to build a better relationship.
Originally published at elanchezhian.net