During any type of conversation or situation, we often respond with what provides gratification for our most immediate need. Many times, this is done unconsciously and without a second thought. What we should do instead is be intentional about and be driven by what is best for the greater good and what provides value for all. Where is your focus during conversations and situations? Which value, your own, or that of the greater need of all parties involved, is most important in the moment? What can you do in any scenario to drive the most effective outcome? “What’s Important Now” is critical to learn how to W.I.N.
Many times, our next immediate verbal and/or nonverbal communication is driven by what we declare valuable in that moment. For example, if someone is wrong about something and your immediate need is to show them that they are wrong, your next response will likely be something along the lines of “that is not correct”. That initial reaction may only be gratifying for you in that moment. If you thought about the greater need of the group, your new approach may just be to make sure that people walk out of a meeting with a correct understanding. The need to correct an error versus the need to provide correct understanding or the need to prove someone wrong versus sharing a more effective solution with them are subtle changes that can make a world of difference in your interactions.
Let’s consider another example. The immediate need to be right. In this case, if you see more value in the desire to be right, then your response will only come from your viewpoint versus asking a question or inviting others to give their point of view first. In this scenario, two-way dialogue is important in understanding the overall value and greater good. This is not to say that you are not correct or have a valid opinion; however, two-way dialogue just leads to better communication and understanding. Keep in mind that we cannot always sacrifice the long-term benefits of relational effectiveness for short-term efficiency. Sure, you may get out of the meeting sooner, but the outcome might not be as productive or you may have to revisit some areas if there is an absence of understanding.
Here is another scenario: the immediate need when asked a question is to simply deflect the attention off of you. This deflection may be a result of various factors. This can be because you are nervous or do not have the correct information. In addition to deflection, you may offer shorter answers r or provide less direct information. In this case, simply stating that you are either not prepared or do not have the answer can lead to the greatest overall value. This is greater value because it allows you to get to a solution in a more efficient manner. Providing direct answers also drives you to a point of increased accountability which is a greater need than just to preserve your comfort and safety in that moment.
The last example that we will use is the need for self-preservation. This need can come in various forms. One form is the need to cling to a sub-optimal interaction style in order to protect yourself from preconceived notions of threat. Often times, when we are very defensive we receive any communication from others as a direct attack or insult. In an effort to protect ourselves, we lash out and attack even when unnecessary. Another form of self-preservation is providing sub-optimal work. Some of us provide just enough to get the work done even if it means cutting corners to do so. In both scenarios, the short-term individual value is that you “survived again”. However, this comes at the expense of the overall value because those around you suffer as a result of your negative engagements, communication styles or lack luster work output. Again, considering the overall value will cause you to interact with others with more compassion, hearing them out even if your initial reaction may be to take offense. Additionally, the same consideration will cause you to do your best work in order to create a positive reflection of yourself and the organization. Operating with the impact on the overall value in mind will surely lead to more effective, engaged and sustainable workflows and environments.
Here are some self-reflective questions to consider:
- Is my need right now the overall need?
- Does my immediate verbal and non-verbal communication reflect the greater need or value?
- How have my responses in various situations become a part of my behavior?
- Does my immediate need drive the most effective or efficient actions?
- Do I understand and consider that the greater good may come at an initial short-term individual sacrifice?