Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Becoming a Chameleon: That Was Worth It

After my last post, I wasn't sure I wanted to carry on with this challenge. It's such a difficult thing to try to change how you are hard-wired, and my feelings were hurt. But I decided the other day that I would give it another go. For a refresher:
Look for opportunities to discuss topics which may have differing points of view. Resist expressing your point of view immediately. Instead, ask more questions to understand what others are thinking. Try to focus on the underlying reasoning and supporting evidence for other points of view. Resist the temptation to try to convince others to change to your point of view.
There are certain people in my life that I've had trouble stopping and listening to. My brain tells me that I'm right and they're wrong, and well, that's the end of it. The other day, I was battling something out with my boss... a minor thing, having to do with a description of a session we were going to be presenting at the conference.

I rattled off a cute, snappy description. My motto: catch the eye! Make 'em look! Make the words jump off the page!

He read it and said, "I don't think we should be cute. I think we should be straightforward."

My inner-rebel scoffed. Pah! He's wrong, I'm right! I'm way more interesting than he is!

No... that's not fair, my Adaptability Angel said. Remember the task...

So, later on that day, I phoned him and lo, and behold: I learned something.

It's not that he didn't think catching the eye was important. It's just that certain things catch HIS eye. "When I go to a conference and I see the list of the sessions I could attend, I want to know what I'm going to be doing there. I see the punchy lines and I immediately think, 'That's all spin, no substance.'"

What he wanted from me was: Don't just write. Say something.

Ah... that's exactly right. Thanks, dude.

I feel great about that. I didn't mind being wrong that time, because I felt like I grew a little. How about that, huh?

So, spurred on by the success of that task, here's something else for me to work on:
Keep an open mind about suggestions from others. Resist saying no to suggestions before you have had time to consider the idea. List all of your concerns. Ask yourself "What is the worst thing that could happen if this fails?" Decide whether you are willing and able to take that risk.
That one makes me a little nervous. "What is the worst thing that could happen" has been the famous last words of many people. Big breaths...

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