Bridging perception gaps and reconciling natural differences is key optimising productivity and efficiencies.
It’s bad enough when teams and individuals don’t work as effectively together as they might, because they are in different teams, departments or locations, but then you add to the mix that you all see the world through differing perspectives, then it gets really interesting!
You’ve all been there when you are in a situation and a colleague says, or does something and you think, “That’s not what I meant”, “They just don’t get it”, “Why are they always so awkward?”, or “We just never see eye to eye”. That is the crux of it, you don’t always see eye to eye with other people and there will always be situations like this which occur in the work environment.
Why? – Because we are all a mix of personality/behaviour styles with differing preferences and no two people will see things in exactly the same way.
Perception gaps are inevitable, so how do you bridge those gaps, increase collaboration and increase performance & results?
The What – Understanding & Knowledge
We are often so set in our ways with deep rooted views and used to seeing things the way that we do, our greatest challenge is simply to acknowledge that we all see things slightly differently.
When someone shares an opinion or articulates a piece of information based on their particular perspective, if it doesn’t instantly conform with how you see things, all too often you feel you are in a position of disagreement or having opposing views. In actual fact when looking at the same thing but from a differing perspective, what on the surface looks like opposition or conflict, is simply just a different view of something that you actually might agree on. It is these perception gaps that cause so much of the productivity and efficiency challenges that businesses face.
For many, realising that we are all a mix of certain behavioural styles, which leads us to see things from differing perspectives is a major light bulb moment. So first we need to understand what is meant by ‘Behavioural Style Preferences’.
We are all a mix of behavioural styles and there are numerous models out there that help us to understand this phenomena. Very broadly speaking most models plot us on two axis. One is our level of introversion or extroversion, the other is our level of ‘demonstrated’ emotional responsiveness. So for example are you generally quiet, reflective and less likely to show your emotion? Or are you generally quite vocal, spontaneous and happy expressing what you think & feel?
Developing your understanding of behavioural styles to understand yourself better and to understand others is a hugely beneficial tool to have in your kit bag.
Knowing what to do is one thing, developing the skill and creating new habits is another, but that’s’ where we come in. We work extensively with clients and teams of people to develop this understanding as a key foundation piece to improving personal and business performance. The key is to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your particular style preference. Linking to an earlier blog on getting the best out of teams, it is important to recognise that a mix of behavioural styles is a good thing. More than that it is a necessary thing. The challenge is that ‘in the moment’, when people don’t see things quite as we see them, we can get frustrated, impatient, feel challenged and think that the other person is being awkward. They are not, they are just seeing what you see, but through a different set of lenses.
The How – Developing the awareness and the skills
‘Style Flex’, is the skill of taking the knowledge of behavioural styles and flexing your own personal style preference so that it aligns with the style preference of the person(s) that you are interacting with. Achieving sufficient style flex will dramatically improve the outcomes of your interactions with others, whether that be in 1-2-1 or group situations.
Don’t wait for there to be a problem before a conversation takes place, the more you invest time in understanding your colleagues and allowing them to understand you, the more you are likely to bridge the perception gaps. As Steven Covey is famous for saying, “Seek first to understand, before being understood”. That mutual understanding of how two people see things and making the effort to have an open mind, will itself pay huge dividends. It is this proactive engagement with the people you work and live with that will develop your awareness of varying styles and your awareness of how to flex and when to flex.
The Motivation – Why flex, why change?
If you haven’t already worked that out, this will probably be the tricky bit! Knowing what to do and how to do it is one thing, but if you don’t have the motivation nothing is going to change. You need to reflect on what the benefit of flexing and changing your approach is going to be. That might be:
- saving you time
- reducing your workload
- improving financial returns
- enabling others
- sleeping better at night
- improving the quality of your life or even raising your profile and credibility
If the benefit is not immediately obvious, then consider what the current consequences and impacts are of the challenges being faced due to differing behavioural/personality types.
For example: –
“Every time I meet with Dave, we seem to spend so much time going back over old ground and just stating our own opinions of how we think things should be done. He sees it from one perspective and I see it from another. Consequently we waste a lot of time and we don’t work collaboratively and productively together.”
Consequences to me of current situation – Time being wasted and I’m not achieving the outputs & results in the time that I need to.
Benefits to me of flexing and adapting my approach – Dave and I will develop a better understanding and collaborative approach which will save me time and allow me to achieve the desired results in the required time.
What to do – First be mindful that because of your own unique blend of behavioural styles, you will inherently see things differently to those around you
How to do – Develop your awareness and understanding of self and others, to appreciate that it is less about right or wrong and more about perspective. The more you understand yours and others differences, the less room there is for misunderstanding and the more effective you will be