What makes us think the way we do?

Now I aren’t talking about a deep seated psychological analysis or even trying to distinguish the id from the ego but something far more basic and exciting (well, exciting for some)

Yes, we all make decisions concerning many various subjects and sometimes we are so far away from being correct but we still go ahead and make it. Sometimes we get brave and on the spur of the moment, call out an answer or make a move and then fight like crazy to prove our point. Sometimes we sum up the risk and just make a call based on the perceived danger or the lack of it.

What I am asking or questioning is this ability to make a call based on a principle? You see, we will all make a decision based on a principle and we will stick by it despite the principle being outdated, wrong place, wrong time or just incorrect… and we fail to see it until we have gone through the procedure of defending our honor based on something we thought to be correct.

Take me, for example. My 19 year old daughter is here with a friend for about 10 days. They are just delightful. I find that I have to catch myself before I put some weird idea I have floating in my head out there to be called advice. I remember my parents always wanting to know everything about what I was doing? Where I was going and who I was going with? The battles I had with them and I still did whatever I was going to.

Now I find myself wanting to tell my daughter and her friend to be careful, but I already have. I want to protect them from some perceived danger yet, I know that she is a sensible person. We have discussed all this before. So why do I wish to do it again? Sure there is a sense of protection, yet, I know that she takes precautions to be safe. I know very well that she is a sensible person and without making this into some horror story as I have heard a few. The fact is that she doesn’t go looking for trouble. That said, then, I seem to be putting my worries onto her life. How ever I justify it, it’s still my idea of things and not based on any knowledge (or should I say it’s not based on much knowledge of her life). I know what I would have done if one of my parents had continually questioned me.

So how do we handle this… and remember, it doesn’t only have to be a daughter. We have friends, work colleagues, acquaintances and people we come into contact with throughout every day. We seem to try to point them in a direction based on our perceived ideas and their decision is, in most cases, something that isn’t anything to do with us.

So, how do we overcome our wish to exert our authority onto them? It’s very simple, Instead of telling, try asking what they want to hear from us. I asked my daughter what she wanted to hear? Apart from the obvious surprise that anyone would ask such a question, the results were amazing. The in-depth conversation we had over the next two hours was insightful, humorous and allied any fears I had. The respect for each other grew ten fold. What was also quite plain to see, was that I was able to give my points of view without any fear of stuffing up the stronger bond that was developing.

There is no need to exert authority when you have trust. You gain trust by being consistent, honest and placing faith in the other person.

The opposite situation is where you try to dominate the other person. Domination leaves little to trust as you aren’t requiring anything but obedience. Obedience with the threat of force is a very shallow relationship to build. Behind this is deception. This usually happens because you are choking the other person of their life by not allowing them to experience life for themselves.

Now you can say “well my daughter, needs to be protected from herself” I have to ask this question to that? What happened to make you want to drive this idea? Yes our children, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, all need protection to a greater or lesser degree, if we want to dominate their experiences. The other option is to trust. Being able to experience situations allows people to become experts in different areas. (Or at least be able to cope in an area where they have little experience)

Sure, there are going to be times when you are going to put your foot down, say no, for the sake of saying no but be very clear about this… You will only gain respect in these times if you have approached earlier times as I have said…

There is no need to exert authority when you have trust. You gain trust by being consistent, honest and placing faith in the other person.

Everyone is far more capable than they believe and everyone is more capable than you believe as well. I have a friend who spent 6 months telling me that she was not capable of getting a promotion and that she fell apart in interviews before I could convince her that with a few simple steps, she could make this step up to the next level. She is now the manager of her department. She has said on numerous occasions “When I was up for promotion a few months ago, I was convinced I had no chance of landing the job. He was the one who encouraged me; he was the one who helped me see my potential and gave me the belief that I could do it. And he was right too!”

The only thing I would point out was that it wasn’t me that sat through the interview and achieved the promotion… it was her. Despite all the kudos that she flows my way, the only thing I did was have faith in her abilities and I consistently tried to be honest and trust. She did it all and all it took was support and faith.

Now everyone has the ability to allow others to be the best they can be. It will never be achieved by dominance so much as positive reinforcement. Tell someone they are a jerk for long enough and you will undermine all that is about them. Concentrate on their good points and suddenly there is a focus on positive stuff. Continue this focus, you will help create an environment where the person who will step up and make their life successful

Our conversation carried on between the three of us. I learnt so much. What I also learnt was something far more valuable. These kids were bright, savvy and have a very good network of acquaintances. They look after each other. As adults we tend to think that we know. This idea could be off the mark so be wary of approaching others from this point of view. In the few short years it takes to move from teens into adulthood, the ideas also change. What applied for you does not now apply or the version you used has been updated.

Across the board changes have happened. To stay in touch with current trends at all levels, you must ask questions, not demand obedience.

Until next week

cheers… Bill

Bill Gray

Bill is a Business Coach. Working with Individuals, Businesses and Organisations to create better environments and to develop and enhance business ”potential”, into successful business practices.

Sydney, Australia

Ph +61 413 949 521

Copyright ©Bill Gray billgray.biz All Rights Reserved 2004