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 consider instead is being intentional about and driven by what is best for the greater good, providing value for all. Where is your focus during conversations and situations? Which value is most important in the moment – your own or that of the greater need for all parties involved? What can you do in a scenario to drive the most effective outcome? “What’s Important Now” is critical to learn in order to “W.I.N.” in a significant way.
Many times, our immediate verbal and/or nonverbal communication is driven by what we declare valuable in that moment. For example, if someone in a group is incorrect about something and your immediate need is to show them their fault, your next response will likely be something along the lines of “That is not correct”. Your initial reaction will only be gratifying for you in that moment. If you thought about the greater need of the group, your new approach would be to make sure that people walk out of the 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 share more effective solutions, are subtle changes that can make a world of difference in your interactions.
Let’s consider another example focusing on 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 inclusively provide their points of view. In this scenario, two-way dialogue is important in understanding the overall value and greater good. This is not to say you are not correct or have a valid opinion; however, two-way dialogue leads to better communication and understanding. We cannot sacrifice the long-term benefits of relational effectiveness for short-term efficiency. Sure, you may get out of a meeting sooner, but the outcome will not be as productive and time will be wasted as topics will need to be revisited should there be an absence of understanding.
Here is another scenario – the immediate need to deflect the attention away from yourself when asked a question.. This deflection may be a result of various factorssuch as being nervous or the correct information not being available. In addition to deflection, you may offer shorter answers or provide less direct information. In this case, simply stating you are either not prepared or do not have the answer can lead to the greatest overall value. This is because it allows the group to achieve a solution in a more efficient manner. Providing direct answers also drives you to a point of increased accountability which is a greater need rather than preserving comfort and safety in that moment.
The last example to explore is the need for self-preservation, which comes 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, we are very defensive to receive communication from others as it feels like 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. Sometimes iwe provide just enough effort to get the work completed 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 the team suffers as a result of your negative engagements, communication styles or lackluster work output. Again, considering the overall value will cause you to interact with others more compassionately, hearing them out even if your initial reaction may 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 an 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?