Memory, empathy & the pathway forward.

It’s said that every time you recall something you change the memory. So in fact our memories are never an accurate reflection of what happened, precisely. They a version of our truth, but not the ultimate truth. It becomes the story that we tell ourselves; not the reality to which we have experienced.

But the abstract connection with reality doesn’t lessen the impact of the story (or the memory) on us as people. So that’s where it get’s complicated.

If this is indeed all true, then challenges we face at work (or in any part of our lives) to resolve conflict and come to a common understanding of a situation can seem impossible. How do we reconcile two stories that while similar, are nuanced with slight differences?

I’ve sat in what I call the middle of the table, between a manager and employee; listening to two people argue about essentially the same thing, searching for the pathway forward.

The pathway forward would be easier, had the relationship been founded in empathy and compassion, long before the conversation being had in that moment.

A foundation where there is a common understanding that each of us are unique individuals battered and bruised in someway by life’s daily joys and turmoil. That while we see things differently, different isn’t bad. Where we are compassionate enough to recognise intensity of emotions and feel safe enough to know that when there is a problem to overcome, that we ourselves are not the problem. It’s not about blame – it’s about understanding.

We all come with a story. The story we have crafted for ourselves about our life which casts a shadow or a light over every interaction we have.

Understanding that there is another side to the coin, a blind spot, a perspective that we can’t see – having the patience to hear it and explore it.. well that’s the pathway to a better relationship – with whoever is on the other side of the table.

** If you’re feeling like some brain food, this video about Empathy vs Sympathy is one I find particularly insightful.

This blog post from Seth Godin is also intriguing when it comes to exploring our inner narrative.

This article in the New Yorker is longer form and explores memory even further and its connection to emotional responses.

Image credit: Nancy Kamergorodsky

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Being Wrong, Fast Drawing, Culture Fit, Recruitment & Mindset #cherishcurates

#cherishcurates – where I summarise the top 5 bits of content I came across this week that have added to my thinking on all things people, performance and how we work.

This week the top 5 (in no particular order are) are:

  • What makes a good leader – Gary Vaynerchuck
  • Fast drawing for everyone – Google
  • Culture Fit – Thrive Global
  • How To Answer Six Tricky Interview Questions – Liz Ryan

  • The nature of mindsets – Ash Buchanan

***

What Makes a Good Leader – Gary Vaynerchuk

This week Gary Vaynerchuk dropped episode 206 of the Daily Vee. If you don’t know him or this series google it – he’s not for everyone and my guess is that you will love him or hate him. I’m the first. In the later part of the video he drops this statement:

…when you have the full bravado and leadership and you’re a leader the number one thing to feel comfortable with is saying you’re wrong, changing the course, having that humility to go along with that ego… 

When I heard this I was like YARRRSSSS but then I was like… why I am I reacting to this like it’s a new fact, like it’s some kind of wisdom that’s been bottled in a jar away from human ears. I look back on myself, leaders I have worked with and maybe the reason for the response is that we don’t see this behaviour enough. The humility to say “that didn’t work” and the courage to try again – in public.

Fast Drawing for Everyone – Google

Ahhh this is so cool! Google are amid developing a product that helps you create simple graphics on your phone, tablet or desktop. I see this as particularly useful to the L&D all-rounder who might not be an illustrator or designer at heart, but in spirit and needs to get their hands on some clean graphics for presentations, digital environments, activities – you name it! From the blog:

Drawing on your phone or computer can be slow and difficult—so we created AutoDraw, a new web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw.

Culture Fit – Thrive Global

This article was really interesting, it challenged the reader to think about what it means to say “hmm I just don’t think they are a culture fit” .. really what the heck does that mean? The ‘hard data’ of their article draws from a survey by Cubiks… Regardless of the accuracy of the data the question remains..

…..when you say ‘culture fit’ what do you mean?

In recruitment, I use it to describe that holistic assessment of the candidate. They might have the right experience, qualifications – they might even be able to predictably perform in the short term. But will they get results the way that we want to achieve them, that aligns to our values and defined behaviours; what will they add to our culture that compliments and positively challenges what we do. If I can’t see that link then it’s a red flag. One quote of the article really stood out for me:

“I don’t optimize for fit with our existing culture, because over time that will lead to uniformity and irrelevancy. Instead, I try to envision a future where this person’s unique point of view has shifted how we work and what we value. I hire for an individual’s potential cultural contribution.”

The article mentions breaking down ‘culture fit’ into cultural contribution: what will this person bring to the team that will challenge us and help us; and values fit: does this person share our goals and aspirations.

It’s a good article – get’s you thinking about the impact of the language you use and culture fit within your business.

How To Answer Six Tricky Interview Questions – Liz Ryan

I first came across Liz Ryan about 5 years ago. Something I love about her articles is her no BS approach to advice. Recruitment I feel these days can be a soulless business. There are some improvements, but I think in general for job seekers it is a tough game to play and that’s before people even get to the interview.

Ryan talks about the interview questions we all ask and gives coaching tips on how to answer, noting that some of the questions are just down right bad form from recruiters. Here are the questions that got me thinking..

What’s your greatest weakness? To be honest I gave this question up a while ago, I usually ask things like “what are some areas you’d like to grow in”. I’m not overly interested in what people think they are terrible at. More interested in how they see the process of life long learning.

Why do you want this job? Guilty sometimes I find myself saying, only my version is this “you could work anywhere tell me your story”. I need to think this one over a bit more.

The nature of mindsets – Ash Buchanan

This post is long and detailed. Best consumed if you have a 30 minute window and are feeling like some brain food. It unpacks the importance of mindsets, mindset states and provides further reading on the topic. From the 8 principles that underlie mindsets, here are my top 3:

  • Mindsets are unique to everyone
  • Mindsets are imperfect models of reality
  • Mindsets are self-protective

I think about some of the coaching conversations I have had quite recently. In those moments you are trying to alter or persuade these mindsets to rewire and this article provides some great language for coaches to support their managers or clients through the process of a mindset change for improved performance.

This is a good one to reflect on. Worth the time if you have it, which I know you do. I’ll leave you with this.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Image Credit : Wait, but why  (one of the greatest blogs on the internet!!)