WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

March 25, 2013

Bread & Water Diet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:44 pm

Adam has a boss who drove him nuts. As a new associate in his financial services firm, he was eager to learn as much as he could to get ahead. When he first interviewed with Nancy, he got the impression that she was going to groom him for great things. In fact,that was why he took the job. After the first few months, she’s largely left him on his own. These days, she simply drops by his cubicle and leaves him curt instructions.

“Get this to me by Thursday.”

“See Jeff about this and then do a report on it by the end of the month.”

Adam, who appreciates being coached, feels like he’s getting a pretty thin diet. He’s getting instructions, but no development, no mentoring. As time goes on he’s getting more frustrated, and he’s starting to think he made the wrong decision. On the other hand, has he been performing badly? What has gone wrong?

In my book WordFood: How We Feed or Starve Our Relationships, this is the Bread & Water Diet. Adam’s getting just enough to function but not to thrive. Yet he’s also making some assumptions about Nancy that may not be accurate.

It’s quite possible that Nancy has been so impressed by Adam that she feels he doesn’t need input from her. She compliments him by minimizing her role and letting him take the initiative.

It’s also quite possible that Nancy is overwhelmed with work right now and her lack of interaction is indicative of her lack of time.

Another angle is that Nancy is dealing with personal issues, and this is the best she can muster.

Or at worst, perhaps she sees Adam as a threat to her job, which she hadn’t anticipated. This is her way of keeping him from advancing.

Any of these scenarios, and a hundred more, could be true. For Adam to assume that it’s all about him is self-centered thinking. He isn’t privy to her thoughts, and projecting his fears onto her is unfair, and inevitably leads to a bad outcome.

Here are some solid strategies for Adam to move Nancy towards a more Balanced interaction:

  • Offer support and reinforcement. Determine if you’re the problem, find out why and have an honest conversation to clear the air.
  • Ask for specifics. Keep asking until you get answers. You may need to ask for an outside intervention if you get resistance.
  • Put yourself in Nancy’s shoes. You only just started. Use the power of perspective to see where she might be coming from.
  • Find out what Nancy is hungry for. Better communication? Reporting? More space? See if you can provide it.
  • Does Nancy need an empathetic ear? Ask a few discreet questions and see if this isĀ  the real need.
  • If you get avoidance or grunts, start the conversation on safe ground, areas of commonality. Then work up to the tough stuff.

It’s easy to get caught up in our version of what’s what rather than consider the myriad other potential factors that could be pressing on another person’s behavior. It may not be about you at all. If Adam can remain open, soft and curious he may discover that Nancy has just lost her beloved father to cancer, and she has been in mourning.

You came here to serve. By taking the ME out of the picture, you can find how.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress