It’s a ”funny thing”, how saying things as they are can provoke the heck out of us. But it’s not that strange, really:
1. Let me give one out of the business-box example
2. Tree important psychological topics to consider
3. And then closing in on the undeniable business value of all this
1. One out of the business-box example
You are feeling fine
Life is good. Your spouse and you are in the car, the kids are at your parents and the destination you are heading in contains 3 days all about relaxation, reconnecting and what not. Just the two of you. Maybe the last couple of years have not been the easiest. Maybe you haven’t been the best version of yourself, but the same goes about your spouse. None of you have been giving the relationship the attention it deserves. But that is about to change now. The past is the past and you are now going to do something about it. No reason to hold grudges – no reason to dwell on the past: We can’t change what we have done in the past anyways. In the end – it’s all about the love you both felt the day at your marriage. Or the day your wonderful kids were born. You know this – you have a solid foundation to build on.
Let me fast this a bit forward
You can see the certainty in your soon to be; ex-spouse’s eyes: This is the point of no return – divorce. No argument. No compromise. No conversation. No nothing. A decision has been made and you have no say in this. All the “buts” are rising inside you – the need to understand and explain are screaming inside your head. Sadness, anger and panic flashes by in an instance – but none of it will make any difference.
2. Tree important psychological topics to consider
This article is NOT about saving marriages so let’s leave the conversation about who’s to blame behind. Let’s not go into who’s right and who is wrong. Sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people are crazy and sometimes they are not. But the psychology of this example contains priceless business value. This has many layers but I stick to 3 of them:
- Self-interest over empathy
- Not understanding your role
- Living by explanations not actions
1. Self-interest over empathy
Put in simplified words any encounter is a relationship and in business this is an extremely important and underestimated factor. Relationships are built on BOTH a clear “give and take opportunity for a valuable transaction” and a “meaningful personal chemistry between people”. The meaningful chemistry is often 100% ignored and much business is driven solely upon a “how can I get something out of you” mind-set and behaviour. Because this condition has become business as usual in many markets it’s often very, very difficult to get by our psychological guards and have the feedback sink in. Sometimes changing the context can “inspire” us and let the reality have a say. In a relationship between spouse’s it’s clear to most of us how an overly self-interested personality will ruin the quality between the people taking part in the relationship. Business is NO different. It’s never enough that you have a “good offer” and I have the money to pay for it. Valuable transactions can be compared with “being in love” – it’s a rush but it will never be enough in the long run. We also need empathy so “true love” can evolve. In business, this means wrapping our services and products in something more than “a good opportunity”. In business, we must, just as in a personal relationship, nourish and generate good chemistry built on a deeper understanding of the people around us. Internally and externally. Only empathy makes this possible – and empathy is often a challenged value in business.
I’m fully aware of the buzz-words and suppositious in business that contradicts this claim and I consciously do not address them in this article.
2. Not understanding your role
People in general leave relationships when we hate the version of ourselves we have become in context with our counterpart. So, if we for now leave out the people leaving relationships because they themselves are immature, irresponsible and messed-up, the business comparison proves invaluable: If our role in the business is solely motivated by self-interest we will misunderstand and fail our purpose. We might succeed in reporting internal KPI’s and playing the political game, but when push comes to leadership- and growth-shovel, our value (if measured) will prove negative – just like red numbers do in finance. Any relationship we enter with the mind-set of getting OUR pay-off fulfilled without “paying” for it will grow obsolete. We will grow obsolete.
I have seen “this” a million times; individuals spending hundred thousands of Euros to benefit their own interests without really paying back the business by providing solid business-value. We simply totally miss out on truly understanding our own role in the overall picture, and become parasites both to the business and the people working there. And some of us just don’t care about this and accept it as a business circumstance one must live with.
I have experienced it myself and heard similar stories from others telling about announcements like: “Yes we like to expand our growth 20% this year, but right now we are too busy to react upon this”. So, most people in business are goal-oriented if you ask them, the interesting question to answer is: What is their true goal – themselves, the business or both? This leads to my next point.
3. Living by explanations not actions
Going back to the breakup mentioned here above: “All the “buts” are rising inside you – the need to understand and explain are screaming inside your head. Sadness, anger and panic flashes by in an instance – but none of it will make any difference.” Simply because no one gives a shoot about the “reasons why”. All we will ever reap is the consequences of what we do, we can’t blame others (really we can’t) and what we DO is solely what we can change. In both business and in a relationship it’s a double-fail if you can explain “why”, didn’t react and then start to explain “why” in hindsight. In business “the business” will not leave you, it will “ask” you to leave.
Let’s kill the cliché-philosophy contaminating “the only thing you can change is you concept”. I personally have also (just like you) done the stupidest things in both business and life. But it’s not always because I’m stupid. Sometimes I am (and so are you), no doubt, but other times my mistake is the people I accept invitations from. The circumstances I accept. The lies others tell I buy into. Explaining do not provide any business- or human value: Understanding it, learning from it and changing behaviours from it does.
The only people feeling stimulated from explanations are those who holds in favour showing up unprepared, lazy and self-absorbed.
3. Closing in on the undeniable business value of all this
Going back to the beginning of this article: Why isn’t it that strange, saying things as they are, can provoke the heck out of us?
Because we want
1. Easy to understand and follow structure
2. Something simple to believe in
3. Tools that tell us we don’t need to change to have things change for us
But on the other hand we need
1. To truly understand both our success and fiasco factors within
2. Understand complex human psychology and convert it into simple business value
3. To roll up our sleeves and work twice as hard on ourselves than we do in our job
Often saying things as they are stimulate what we need and not what we want. It’s like asking a sugar-addicted to drink plain water: To just do it and shut up. In business – especially in successful business’ – we are extremely conditioned to have people in endless bunches fight to deliver us what we want, to have us pay some invoices. The more in power we become as leaders the less truly honest feedback we get, and we also need that.
In business, we need all sorts of people and we can contain a broad variety of people. But the undeniable value of this article is to find the individuals who master what this article points to, and have them do what they do best and don’t get in their way.
1. Empathy is a key-factor in successful business’
2. Understanding one’s role and fulfilling it is an art
3. Businesspeople must measure themselves and others by their actions and not their explanations.
What to do now?
I will humbly invite you to a conversation about things as they really are in your business and see if we can provide each other considerable business value.
Call me at +45 25 69 77 72 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I will never claim I solely hold the perspective of how things truly are. The article is about the value of challenging the status quo and seeing things from another perspective.