I learned of a research organization that asked several thousand people, “What are the most serious faults of executives in dealing with their associates and subordinates?” Several could be chosen. What do you think was mentioned most often? Here is the list of black marks against bosses:
- 15% Bias and letting emotions rule.
- 15% Indecision.
- 21% Miscellaneous; including lack of courtesy, sarcasm, jealousy, nervousness and loss of temper.
- 17% Failure to delegate authority.
- 17% Arrogance.
- 17% Arbitrariness.
- 19% Lack of frankness and sincerity.
- 24% Lack of leadership.
- 34% Failure to size up employees correctly.
- 36% Failure to show appreciation or give credit.
- 68% Failure to see the other person’s point of view.
The fault cited most often, as the survey shows, was failure to see the other person’s point of view. It was mentioned nearly twice as often as the next most common problem.
On a more positive side, the strength most valued in the workplace is the ability to understand another. And I suspect that strength rates high in all relationships. We don’t always need others in our life to agree with us, but we do need to feel heard and understood. In fact, feeling understood may well be one of our greatest emotional needs. Without it, we can feel disheartened, we believe we don’t matter and we find ourselves increasingly unhappy and lonely.
Grade school children demonstrate this important human need to be heard and understood. It has been observed that many school children will seldom talk about personal problems with their teachers or the school principal for fear of consequences. But...in which of the adults at school do these same children confide most often? The school custodian. Here is a person who will often listen without judging. Here is someone safe, someone who understands.
Think of understanding as “standing under” another person. We stand under in order to learn. We stand under so we can see things their way. We stand under so we may know what it is like to live in their shoes. And when we stand under, we understand.
It’s a universal principle: when we habitually decide to be understanding, our lives are never the same again.
-- Steve Goodier