Wednesday, 21 January 2009
You can't make everyone happy, so don't try too hard
My personality type according to Myers Briggs, sees life as a series of constant battles. In the past that was the case. With age and a pinch of wisdom, that is no longer the trend.
Since this is my professional blog, I'd like to discuss the idea in the context of the workplace and your place in your organisation.
First thing, no one respects a yes man. That is a rule. Remember it.
Having an opinion is always good. You don't always have to voice it all the time but having one is essential. Shutting up is a skill. Learn it.
So how do you balance the need to speak out and at the right time close the gate between the your brain and your mouth?
I'm an extrovert and this is something I've constantly struggled with. Even after ten years of practice, there is no easy answer. I do however have a good handle on being myself and not spending too much time pleasing everyone. There is the saying that "you can not please all of the people, all of the time" and this is true but that doesn't mean you should quit and sit passively by, pretending this is not happening.
Here is how I think you can do this...
Count to Ten
Take your time to form your own opinions. Listen to others who you respect. Think about what you respect and like about their ethos and adopt those things as your own with your flavour. Through discussion, reading and contemplation, form your opinion about things conceptually before being in that actual situation. If a whole complex situation is too much then work with parts of situations.
Don't jump up and voice an opinion on something to the room if you have not thought through what is about to come out of your mouth.
Admit you are wrong, if you are
Often people voice an opinion and stick to it purely out of pride. If you do get it wrong then learn to admit you are wrong. There is nothing wrong with changing your opinion and telling people, if what you think now is different and improved. People will respect you if you are humble enough to admit you a wrong. Don't be too humble though.
Shut Up Already
When you have said your piece and articulated what you think then stop.
Do not make the mistake of saying something over and over again with the assumption that they aren't agreeing because they simply don't understand. Sometimes, people just don't agree with you, for whatever reason. Say what you have to say and then stop saying it.
Give the person you are talking to, time to digest what you have expressed.
Don't try to please only your Managers
One thing I have seen of late is people who state an opinion just to show their bosses that they agree. Managers are not idiots. Ok, some are but if they aren't then they see right through you. If your opinion is an exact parrot of your superiors then all that you will gain is a Mr Burns and not the respect you may crave.
Pleasing only those above you also wins you no friends. I've worked in environments where the rule was to "kiss up and kick down". There is only so far you can go with that war cry. Remember to consider how what you say will filter the views of those around you. All people matter. Not just the ones who decide your pay rise.
If you follow those four rules, you will find that you will be fine. Interpret them how you will but find your voice. Your own voice. Learn when to use and when not to.
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