Let Us Change the Eyes Which See Reality


In a recent visit to Indiana, the current President of the United States was asked about civility in politics. President Obama responded,

If you want more civility, then you vote for folks who are civil and who are making arguments and using logic and presenting evidence, not just somebody who is popping off.

Logic and evidence are good, however, the workplace is unique. For most of us it is not about making speeches and rhetoric. For the everyday person, the workplace is personal.  It is where we spend most of our day.  If we want it to not be toxic like our political space we need to speak up and listen in the midst of conflict in order to get work done.

Poise is the mindset we take when problems arise. One mindset that is helpful is to decide to get good at conversation. Conversation is a give and take exchange the can open our eyes to another person’s perspective. The quote below, reminds us that our only power to change things for the better comes from our own perspective. If  we don’t like the reality we see, we can change our perspective.

Since we cannot change reality,
let us change the eyes which see reality.

-Nikos Kazantzakis

In the post titled Compassion: An Antidote to Incivility, we wrote about the concept of fight or flight. Poise comes from an awareness that we are standing on fragile ground when there is conflict. Without thinking we will retreat or react because of our brain’s ability to protect us.

Here is a workplace example of a conversation that maintains poise and supports a co-worker, first to be seen, and then to see others people with new eyes.

Person A:  People from (another department) are lazy and rude. We always have to redo the work that they should be doing.

Person B: Are you frustrated about something in particular?

Person A:  Yes, when a customer calls they complain about (another department). If they took the time to do it right in the first place, we wouldn’t have the call.

Person B: I can see why you are frustrated. What have you tried to do to make it better?

Person A:  I complained to the manager but ____ is a lazy @#%& too!

Person B:  Bummer. I wonder if there is another reason the time isn’t being spent on the customer in the first place? 

Person A:  Yeah, maybe there is some rule about limiting the time with each customer.

Person B:  Perhaps. Do you ever see anyone from ___ on break? Maybe you could ask them what it is like?

Person A:  Yes, but I don’t see what good that will do?

Person B:  I don’t know either but it would be interesting to know what you find out. Let me know after you talk. 

Read the conversation again and notice two approaches:

Curiosity: Person B used mostly questions to approach the person speaking.

Intention: Person B had the intention to first affirm the speaker and then to use questions to broaden the perspective of the other person.

If Person A was speaking from a mindset of “fight,” the approach would be to either prove the speaker wrong or to tell them the right way to do it.

If Person A was coming from a place of “flight,” they would excuse themselves.

In times of emergency, telling a person how to do something is the best approach. Or if there is simply not time to engage in a conversation, excusing oneself works well. When there is time, engaging in a strong powerful conversation is better than just letting the conversation become a complaint or gossip session. Soon we will be sharing more about the research that tells us that complaining and gossip lead to a lot of negative results.

Do you agree? Do you think taking time to engage in conversation to better understand the perspective of others can make a difference? If so, let us know.

Graphic of CultivateSeeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  We cultivate conversations about leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.

Curiosity & the Power of Possibility

TabbyOn February 18th The Wallace Centers of Iowa hosted leadership expert Tabby Hinderaker the Purposeful Growth Coach to share insights about coaching.  Those who attended enjoyed an amazing lunch prepared by our own Chef Katie.

After the meal, participants experienced what it is like to ask questions that support another person’s learning. Alternatively, participants had a chance to experience being coached. Participants commented:

 “I was nervous about asking the right question, however being more aware of the other person made it easier”

“I was surprised by new insights.”

“I can see why coaching is powerful.”

“The way the person framed the questions helped me see my goal in a new way.”

The idea of coaching people to develop emerging leaders is relevant to the needs of the workplace. In a recent post, 4-Tips for Developing Millennial Leaders Now! we reported that according the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 18-33 year old generation became the largest in the workforce and will grow by 30% in the next 5 years. A coaching mindset is the key to all four tips highlighted in that post.

Join us for the next Leadership and Civility Lunch which will include thoughts from leadership expert Kevin Pokorny.

Gather 510 px squareThe Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we gather tips and tools for leading with civility.

A Fresh Look at “Not Enough Boots on the Ground”

Graphic of Boots on The GroundWhen working toward results in business certain overused sayings are borrowed from the language of war. This practice inherently says there is an enemy that must be overcome. Instead of being frustrated by the metaphors of war, consider overused phrases as a signal to re-think what is being expressed and consider a response that comes from nature and growth. Questions or statements that come from a mindset of curiosity are like seeds. Questions lead to new thoughts, ideas, and approaches. 

 We don’t have enough boots on the ground

What does this saying really mean?

The speaker is expressing a frustration that something is not going well.  It is easy to agree and even try to figure out how to get more people.

However before doing that, a listener can respond in a way that supports a deeper look. The mindset of curiosity assists the speaker to solve his or her own challenges.  A few possible questions to get the conversation going in a new direction could be:

  • What’s up?
  • Are you feeling frustrated?
  • What’s worked before?

In real life when this approach was tried, it allowed for new possibilities to be expressed.  The frustrated speaker realized through conversation that the people on her team where confused and not all working on the same objective.  She then felt energized and started meeting with each person and having conversations about the focus and speaking in a way that gave a sense of direction.

What other well worn expressions have you heard that sound like war?

Graphic of CultivateSeeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we cultivate conversations about civility in the workplace.

Note: Boot graphics are from: 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)