In transformation / reorganization, you need more than ever to positively influence your situation and the results (often expected yesterday).
But these phases bring their share of novelties and uncertainties, which can unfortunately render your actions less adequate and more cautious.
In this article, I present a habit to apply on a daily basis, which allows you to reinforce your sovereignty and broaden your options for action. The expected result is an increase in your personal influence or positive impact.
The principle is the following: The way we automatically interpret a situation determines our feelings and actions. Thus, by consciously acting on our interpretation, we have the possibility to influence our feelings and adjust our actions. In general, the adjusted action has a more positive impact, which allows us to (re-)gain influence.
Before arriving to the description of the habit, I’d like to present the underlying “full” instrument and an example.
Example of a situation
The situation I often observe in practice during transformation / reorganization is the state of surprise, frustration or disbelief with regard to the actions of managers, colleagues or employees.
Let us consider the transition from a classical structure to an agile structure as a concrete example. Two of the typical reactions I observe are:
- Employees: “Our top management expects more autonomy and initiative but still ask for regularly reports – they don’t really support the agile way of working”.
- Management: “Some of our employees continue to behave as before – they are not able to transit in an agile way of working”.
In both cases, there is frustration and annoyance, followed in the worst cases by resignation.
The “full” underlying instrument
It consists of three concentric “circles”.
- The first circle (in the center) describes the situation, the event we are experiencing.
- The second circle is our interpretation of the situation / event. It consists of four boxes: (+) for the positive interpretation of the situation, (-) for the negative, (~) for the neutral and (?) for an additional one.
- The third and final circle describes the actions that we take based on our interpretation of the situation. It also consists of four boxes, corresponding to the four possible interpretations.
How to apply the “full” instrument
- In case of an astonishing, frustrating or annoying situation like “some of our employees continue to behave as before”, take the instrument and describe the event in the center box.
- Look for your interpretation, in our example “they are not able to transit in the agile way of working”, and note it in the corresponding box.
- Complete the other interpretation boxes, in our example (+), (~) and (?). Take a few seconds to realize what is happening emotionally. In most cases, this step is accompanied by a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
- Finally, describe the different possible actions based on the different interpretations and consciously choose the one you want to use. In most cases, this step is accompanied by a pleasant feeling of confidence and empowerment.
Applied to our example:
We can see that there are possible actions that clearly differ from the first reaction. We can then consciously choose the one or the bundle we think is most promising. Notice that the feeling about the situation is also different depending on the interpretation: recognition, annoyance, calm or bad conscience.
Consciously look for a benevolent interpretation as a habit to develop
The reflection required to execute the full instrument requires calm and time. To execute on a daily basis directly in the situation, we need a “reduce to the max” version. It is based on the following assumptions:
- Under stress, we tend to exaggerate the negative side of our interpretations.
- An action taken on the basis of a too negative interpretation does more harm than an action taken on the basis of a too positive interpretation.
The habit consists of 4 steps:
Step 1 is the trigger of the chain. Step 2 represents the voluntary act that allows us to leave our automatic reaction. Step 3 is important to open the mind and allow the creation of new ideas for action. Step 4 is the one that allows us to gain influence, for the adjusted action is almost always more appropriate and better accepted by our entourage than the one we would have had automatically.
In the beginning it is not always easy to execute this habit in the heat of the moment. If possible, it is worth postponing steps 2 – 4 and doing them with a cool head.
In short, by basing our actions on more benevolent (positive) interpretations, we gain influence.
I wish you positive experiences in implementing this habit.
I would be pleased if you share with me your experiences with this habit. Feel free to write to me a few lines about it or contact me.
- Dave Gray, Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think, Two Waves Books, 2016, 184p.
- Stephen Guise, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results, CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, 126p.
- Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Vintage Books, 2006, 336p.