Uncovering and understand past experiences that still bothers you.
How to become more aware of your self-deceptions and own defence mechanisms.
How to recognize the “games” being played by you and other people.
How to get in touch with the conflicts and repressed feelings inside you.
How to remember and understand your dreams or daydreams.
Realizing the continuing impact of your family life and early experiences.
Understand your needs such as dependencies, independencies, interdependencies, aggressiveness, sexual active/inactive, …etc.
These questions aim at stimulating a more open-minded and critical approach to “soul searching” the problem…
- Could some experiences in the past contribute to the present problem?
- Could some chemical imbalances, environmental influences or physical aspects influence the problem? If yes, What & How? If not, Why?
- What specific needs, wants and defences are causing trouble?
- What conscious strategy can replace your unconscious life script or sabotage program? Can that be done? Do you think it would be effective?
- Is this believe you hold valid, realistic, ridiculous or absurd? Why?
- How did it originate (where/how did you learn it)? Is the source really a role-model to follow?
- What will it cost you, and the people around you, when you hold on to this believe?
It is sometimes (despite a thorough SWOT analysis) quite difficult to determine exactly what some weaknesses (problems or issues) are all about, especially when related to unconscious factors or a belief system. The fact that unconscious factors often are an important component of our present belief structure makes it almost impossible to identify those areas that actually fuel our present weaknesses.
Therefore, to assist you in reflection, some triggers of possible interactions was identified that might stimulate thinking, investigation and exploration. Go through the following descriptions and collect some additional clues to “explain” possible human behaviour as fuelled by certain belief structures. The following list is by no means comprehensive and should only be regarded as a “stimulant” for reflective thinking…
When the problem is simply a low IQ, it will manifest itself in a number of ways. The individual will make frequent, repeated mistakes, misremembering important facts, coming to wrong conclusions based on the evidence at hand. Others can come to this person’s rescue by dividing some of the more crucial tasks and reassigning them to others that are competent in those areas.
However, stupid people (low IQ, thus, low on brainpower) seldom advance to positions of importance. This inefficiency is often due to STUPIDITY, a stupidity often characterized by hard-headedness, mental stubbornness and an obdurate unwillingness to listen to alternatives once his/her her mind is made-up (close-minded).
Many people are – what is the politically correct way to put this? – flexibility challenged.
There are those individuals who have a vexing combination of attributes, they are untalented in the craft of interacting, but skilled in the politics of communicating. When their intentions are noble, others can deal with them for awhile, due to their charisma, enthusiasm and personal charm. But overall efficiency and performance will be poor, and these individuals will eventually have to step aside and allow a more competent person to replace him/her.
However, when their intention are bad, there is a dark angel in the midst… an individual skilled at covering up his/her own failures, at surviving despite his/her under performances and a person that can provide compelling reasons for failure. This individual is a real danger to any group’s mission, and must either “change ways” or be taken out.
A contradictory statement, but there are some compelling reasons for this…
- First, some ignorance is a given with interdependency. The days of the al-knowing person are over. The concept of interaction is predicated upon people complementing one another’s limited knowledge to create a stronger whole.
- Second, ignorance doesn’t have to be forever; stupidity, on the other hand, is terminal. We all have gaps in our knowledge base that we could fill with learning. But there are various degrees and kinds of ignorance. You might say that an ignorant mind is an open mind – ready to be filled, open to new information and perspectives. Good ignorance. Humble ignorance.
Bad ignorance is proud of being ignorant, closed off to new input, stuck in its ways. Perhaps it is ignorance founded on experience… “This always worked for me in he past, so I don’t need to learn any thing new now“.
What can people do when a person lacks knowledge critical to success? Offer to fill in the gaps or to bring in a new person from outside? It is a quite a delicate matter, but it must be broached, because interdependency amongst people only succeed in a climate of cooperation, sharing and co-creating.
Over Trained People
To put it simply, the person is too quick with new ideas and concepts to reliably integrate what s/he is learning with reality, mainly because they lack questioning skill, patience and the ability to reflect. Knowledge is fine, reading is advised, learning from others limit mistakes, BUT applying knowledge without using your common sense are like a storm (cyclone to be precise) leaving one with serious damage control, once the storm blew over.
Objecting to eagerness can be perilous, one can easily appear “anti-progress” or “change-resistant“. Rather deal with an eager beaver with the attitude that all learning is valued, but as a means to a result, not as an end in itself (emphasize the benefits of focused learning, learning through implementation, learning through co-operation and life-long learning).
People who are too talented
It is the “too smart for your own good” syndrome, where the person is so brilliant that others never catches up. The best example, from the literature, is probably the Professor on Gilligan’s Island… smart enough to make a cyclotron out of coconut shells, but unable to persuade his crew to patch a boat.
The best way to deal with this kind of “intellect” is to use the person as a resource or for reference purposes, rather than for needed functions or urgent processes. When this is possible, everyone will breath a sigh of relief.
People who are too kind
They constantly worry, “Am I going too fast for them? Am I pushing them too hard?“, “Don’t I expect too much from them?“, “Am I not asking too much“, …etc. The danger is that their concerns becomes a limiting factor on progress, with these individuals knowing “what’s best” and trying to spare others the shock of sudden plunges into new unknown territories.
A possible antidote, for these people, are to realize that they are dealing with people, not idiots or cocker spaniels. Surprises, pain and fear are a natural part of learning. Without crossing the line into sadism, an individual is expected to keep other people on the edge of what is comfortable… always learning and growing.
People who are closed to new ideas
Like the carpenter poised with a hammer, we are ready; willing, and able to find a nail to pound. The problem is that human interactions isn’t all nails. The tried and true problem-solving approach (often scientifically proven) isn’t applicable to every situation.
People need to accept this and develop a diverse set of tools, to avoid over-reliance on the “hammer“. Inefficient individuals keep hammering away long after the pounding stops doing any good. This is a learning issue. Interactions must be about learning, openness to knowledge from every quarter.
Ostriches are said to stick their heads in the sand when challenged, this behaviour is much more typical of ineffective people. How does one intervene with a closed-minded person? Good question. We do not deliberately seek out such people at any level, but we know that every now and then we have a rife with them.
Chances are that the resistance to new ideas is a fear reaction. IF the person has succeeded with Method A, Approach B will not seem familiar, “succeedable” or even possible. This evolution from hammerer to hammerhead, is as ancient as the human race itself. Everybody must constantly strive to prevent calcification.
Therefore, create a culture (climate) of conscious and continuous openness, an atmosphere that instinctively rewards “looking freshly” at problems, and which is inherently suspicious of a unquestioned reliance on the already tried, proven and allegedly true. The spirit of continuous improvement… nothing is ever so good that it cannot be improved.
People with inappropriate interaction styles
An self-empowering inclined individual, expects others to function autonomously, with a minimum of direction. But these people either has no experience with this kind of freedom, or is unable to muster the initiative to make it work.
Or an autocratic person expects that the style that worked fine in the days of the industrial era (“Do this, Do that. Now do this.“) will work equally well with cross-functional peers. The autocrat quickly finds his/her orders have no force with the group s/he functions within.
However, despite the above, we still need coaching, facilitation for the articulation of goals, sharpening interactions, the willingness to teach and to coordinate in a healthy balanced manner.
People who put themselves ahead of others
Signs that individuals participate only for their own selfish reasons…
- a unwillingness to run interference for set goals (i.e. budgets);
- a disinclination to fight for the others and possibly alienate outside important sources;
- a reluctance to share credit in times of success;
- a cheerful willingness to point fingers of blame when things go wrong.
Individuals who will not take personal risks for the greater good of others are not interacting, only using people.
It is doubtful that any initiative can alter their self-serving nature. Confront these people and force them to choose between succeeding individually or succeeding as part of a team.
People must be committed to one another, not just as a convenient participant, but as interacting human beings (e.g. if I am part of your “team” and I know your child needs an operation, I should want to help you get that operation – as one of the goals of the team).
The above is a hard standard to commit to. Some of us are noticeably unlovable; a few of us head for the hills at the mention of the word love. Substitute a phrase with less baggage – say that individuals must know and sympathize with one another as individuals – and the meaning may comes into focus.
There are lots of people that do not “share together“, who do not share physical work space, that do not socialize, that do no eat, breathe, sleep and dream with others. Nevertheless there can be no real co-operation, and certainly no true interaction without some degree of intimacy… some human acknowledgement of one another; that we are all people, each with a unique story, unique difficulties and unique dreams.
Very few people are human ramrods – reliable from day to day, in sun and in shadow – unvarying and mechanical as a streetlight. People has rhythms and contradictions. These fluctuations don’t normally cause serious problems in “simple” behaviours like walking or snoring. In “complicated” actions like driving a car or facilitating others, they do.
Without doing violence to the human spirit, variation or fluctuations must be examined and understood. You need to constantly ask questions like…
- What are the causes of these lapses in consistency?
- Do they appear random and uncontrollable, like the shifting direction of the wind?
- Is it just natural that we have our good days and our bad days?
- Are lapses brought on by predictable and understandable events (e.g. fluctuations in personal financial stresses, quota and deadline stress, periodic visits from overseers)?
You may find that stresses cause lapses, or the opposite – that let-downs occur during moments of low accountability or on the heels of a visible success. The solution… Understand and improve those things that can be changed, and socially accept the things you can’t.
People who cannot be followers
So it is inevitable that as a leader on one functional group, the person will be a follower or a peer member on many others. When an individual flatly refuse to be a follower and always insists on being a leader (i.e. taking control), it surely will give rise to plenty of conflicts, poor interactions and appalling performances.
An inability to follow (especially when needed) is an attitude that isn’t rooted out easily. Regrettably our modern society insist that individuals (as well as organizations, companies and institutions) become leaders (or fade to the background) and people are often treated as winner (leaders) and loosens (followers).
This is the unfortunate residue of competing, strive for excellence and being the democratic best. Encountering and dealing with an inability to follow, is a long and tedious tasks that are “aggressively” opposed by society pressures. Unless the individual has a strong enough self-identity to withstand such pressures, and strongly believe in doing things right, rather than the right thing, there is a very slim chance to constructively deal with this issue.
People who refuse to acknowledge others
People thriving on interaction (actually all of us, but especially e.g. team leaders) must see into the hearts and heads of those that they would like to participate. Individuals who think interaction is about them, have it completely wrong. Ignore others, and others will surely ignore you.
Acknowledging the contributions of participating members (giving credit away), concentrating on recognition, reinforcement and rewards to all, go quite a long way toward solidifying the legitimacy of efficient interactions. When a person doesn’t acknowledge the contributions of other people, it is very likely that s/he is involved in interactions for selfish reasons.
People that plays favourites
With people, however special treatment prefaces a sudden, steep fall. Individuals must walk a tightrope… between knowing each person individually, knowing what makes him/her tick, what motivates him/her, what that person’s needs or desires are and any appearance that one group of individuals are more valued than any other.
Favouritism is a cancer that eats away at co-operation. For how can interactive co-operation do justice to its musketeer slogan of “all for one and one for all” when we are seeing to it that certain musketeers are given a greater ration of gunpowder. Special treatment and merit awards are for the birds. Fawning over individuals – creating a system of stars and drones – is one of the surest ways to wreck a co-operative spirit. Thus, treating everybody fairly, by treating them differently… but be careful, be very, very careful!
People who do not allow failure
- to perform a designated function, process or task, and
- to be continuously improving the way the function, process or task is performed.
People can fulfil the first half of the above mandate without ever taking any chances. However, no human interaction can fulfil the second half – function, process and task improvement – without trying new things. And new things carry a high potential for embarrassment.
Joseph Juran, the Rumanian-born prophet of quality training, calls all mistakes “gold in human mine“. What he means is that mistakes are not just mistakes; properly committed, a goof feeds information on what works and what doesn’t back into the “human system” (i.e. community). Each failure, so long as it is faced up to and not swept under the carpet, is a golden nugget of information leading people to greater success.
Some of the most successful interactions have created a culture, where failure is not only allowed but encouraged. This represents a sea change in human thinking, of course who wants to be known as the first unit in the company to celebrate failure, especially the folks in finance?. However, it is no more radical a change than the move to cooperation itself. The basic principles are, in fact inseparable. Cooperation, interactions and trial-and-error are all about learning through implementation (i.e. first do then learn).
When people are uptight about failure, that is again a sign that fear runs the them. People must give each other hope of success by displaying courage. Especially in the face of embarrassment. One way to minimize the risk and expense of errors is to introduce new ideas on a scaled or pilot basis, a laboratory basis as opposed to a global “the-whole-world-is-watching” basis.
People who protect and blame
In such a society, there may be groups designated as functional teams for cooperation purposes, BUT with people living it such fear, there can be little productive and interactive cooperation. A good coach is like a friend ready to step in and take the occasional bullet.
A sane organization (company, institution, family) cultivates what James Heskett and Earl Sasser call “an atmosphere of blamelessness“…the acknowledgement that bad stuff happens, but that we are all in the business of learning and failing together, especially in times of severe stress.
Interaction does not exist for the purposes of one individual alone, quite the opposite. Leaders of groups are there to coach and facilitate team members in skills and interactions, to assist people with problems they are having in execution, to acknowledge achievement and efforts, to share and teach knowledge as it is acquired, to model suitable behaviour and to periodically remind individuals of the group’s mission and goals.
These tasks imply above all else, a moral simplicity and directness. A leader or facilitator cannot tell one individual one thing and another person something quite different. A facilitator may not ever deceive people and should not place him/herself above the “rest“, for any reason or for any period of time.
The leader or facilitator has been given a trust that is easily violated. For something that happens on a daily basis, it is pretty darn sacred. Does this mean facilitators or leaders must behave like St. Francis of the Assisi? No! They should always be themselves (honest, open and approachable). And they should be free to pursue their own ambitions, even if that eventually takes them away from the circumstances.
But while they have accountability for a person they must be true to their role as facilitators. And that means a continuous improvement of those facilitating skills, by becoming a better coach, teacher, model and servant. Unethical people just do the exact opposite, they blame, judge, condemn and threaten.
People who are remote
Think of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984, visible only on TV-screens, frightening similar to the actions of politicians and celebrities in modern times. These created distances is used as a prop. It allowed these people to create a cult of personality, of charisma and establish an inflated sense of superiority. Take away the distance and we would see these hero’s puts on their pants one leg at a time.
Authentic interactions feeds on frequent, consistent and true information. People who squeeze it through the eye of a needle, kills productive interaction. It gets a lot worse when the scarcity of information (to take decisions) is founded on a philosophy of protecting people against cruelty that they cannot handle, incidentally often decided by the one in a authoritative or controlling position.
Our own experiences with censorship, during the “apartheid years” and recently the war in Iraq, both are excellent examples of creating a distance and remote actions that effectively derail productive problem solutions and encourage chasing an illusion (role of TV?).
People who fail to model healthy interactive behavior
Interactions requires mutual respect between participating members. If they see someone behaving counter to the standards of behaviour that s/he set or expects, they’ll lose their respect, trust and refuse co-operate. The operative term in this case is… Hypocrisy.
It’s really OK to talk the talk… provided you first walk the walk.
People who are oblivious to the needs of others
People do not live to be interactive in one way only, they have dreams of moving on to better things some day. Individuals who actively involve themselves in helping others to achieve their aspirations, build trust, loyalty and camaraderie. Unfortunately the opposite (modern operative rule, because of the price tag it carries) is to ignore the needs of others, create a climate of distrust, resentment and back-stabbing.
People who are unwilling to fight for others
In modern terms, the servant-individual concept translates into the one who establishes the direction (vision, goals, etc.), then runs alongside others shouting encouragement, knocking down barriers, opening up networks and running interference. Thus taking care of the climate (fighting for it, if needed) to allow others to proceed efficiently with a process.
Sadly though, only a handful will really do it. The majority will cling to the illusions that they are serving others (for a better understanding regarding this aspect, also read human core concerns).
People who are unwilling to take risks
Individuals should be encourage to take calculated (i.e. not stupid) risks. If things go wrong, good you should separate the outcome, from the decision you complain about the outcome, while praising the decision to take the risk in the first place. Failure, after all, is valuable information. You do not shoot the bringer of such information (decision to act). Rather, you encourage continued calculated risk-taking, another attempt, a different direction, …etc.
People who don’t make stretches in life, are normally rewarded in kind, with inelastic situations. Two things destroy productive interactions, too little challenge and way, way too much challenges. One should find a middle path. Therefore, craft challenges that stretch your imagination, without shredding your self-confidence to bits.
People who cannot allow conflict
This picture is quite charming but, eerily unreal.
In real life, a lot of the humans interacting is less a “fish-and-bread” accretion, it more like a combat ration. You present your idea. I sort of listen. As soon as you are done, I lob a pineapple-sized grenade in the vicinity of your idea. We compare. We bulldoze for an advantage. We disagree, sometimes passionately. Often we just don’t like each other very much, and the conflict takes on an unpleasant personal edge.
This kind conflict is very dismaying to many people. They are too smitten by the idealistic idea of interactions and sharing opinions, by their own preconceptions of how people should behave or their own innate distaste for disharmony, to endure this very realistic human conflict.
There is conflict and there is conflict. Successful interactions are sometimes unattractive, but not dysfunctional. They aren’t characterized by verbal abuses of each other, a back-stabing sabotage of or petty actions to discredit one another.People must expect and must endure the fact that many interactions and accompanied conflicts often ties more closely to pitbulls fighting than, sophisticated-TV-promoted think-tanks.
People who are too high-strung, too squeamish, who seek to censor, act politically correct, protect feelings or stifle self-expressions have a problem… the knowledge/information that must be shared may not be communicated at all, in. We must realize that give-and-take is much too valuable, to try and “control” all, even what others may think.
People who do not value diversity
This kind of diversity, is dealing with a global and diverse society and is an obvious advantage. An individual who is prejudiced against certain groups of people, belongs in Jurassic Park, not a modern society. Looking beyond cave behaviour, there is a more important way to think about diversity, as a difference, not a mistake.
Un-diverse human interaction (free from conflict or differences) is a white-bread gaggle of yes-men. often quite literally. Truly diverse human interactions brings together, not just people with different backgrounds, but different ways of thinking and ideas as well. To be valuable to anybody, diversity has to go way beyond legal compliance’s. To an opportunistic cherry-picking of individuals for the different outlooks – different knowledge and ideas – each participating person can bring to the table and contribute.
Genuine human interactions are synonymous without factions, because no two individuals are in automatic-cultural agreement. An efficient person is the one who cannot only live with this differentness, but can revel in the clash of values, exult in disagreement and has respect for the spirit of dissent.
People who are passive
Most people are properly reactive (passive participation in change), responding with existing knowledge to existing circumstances. People should rather be proactive (active participation in change), acquiring and teaching new knowledge for continuously changing circumstances.
Reactive individuals mostly stay in place; Proactive individuals are on the move. You may be a good manager of events (reactive, firefighting), but not a good leader (proactive, planning). However, you cannot be a great leader without first being, at the very least, a decent manager of events.