Knowing from Doing the Right Thing and Achieving All Your Goals at the Same Time
Doing the Right Thing is a book about people who work in offices, why we fight, and how we can stop fighting, solve our problems, and get back to work. All materials on this site Copyright © Marianne Powers 2002. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Doing the Right Thing and Achieving All Your Goals at the Same Time

Full Book Outline:

KNOWING
---People Are What They Are and It's Irrelevant Anyway
---We Don't Know What Other People Are Capable of Achieving
---People Are Not Accountable for Their Thoughts and Feelings
---We Don't Know What Other People are Thinking and Feeling
---People Are Accountable for Their Words and Actions
---Assume Everyone is Doing the Best They Can
---Assume Everyone Has a Good Reason for What They Say and Do

LISTENING
---Listen Very Carefully
---Welcome Information, Criticism is Information
---If You Have a Choice, Don't Choose to be Hurt
---Examine Your Motives
---Targeting Problems is Good, Targeting People is Evil
---If You Want Someone to Do Something for You, You Have to Be Completely on Their Side
---When People Don't Understand, Listen Better

SPEAKING
---State Your Position Clearly and Ask for What You Want Specifically
---Tell Them Even If You Know They Won't Understand
---All You Can Do is Tell Them, You Can't Make Anyone Do Anything
---When People Don't Meet Your Expectations, Change Your Expectations
---Give Them 100 Tries to Get It Right
---If They Can't Get It Right in 100 Tries, There Must Be Something Wrong with the Procedure
---Teach Everyone to Do Everything

We Don't Know What Other People Are Thinking and Feeling
We often talk as if we know what other people are thinking: ďHe thinks heís better than everybody else,Ē ďShe thinks Iím trying to make her look bad,Ē but we donít. What we are really saying is: ďIf I were acting like that, it would be because I was thinking I was better than everyone else,Ē or ďThe last time someone acted like that, they said they were mad at me because I was trying to make them look bad.Ē We donít know what other people are thinking. We know what we would think in that situation. We know what other people have said they were thinking in the past. It is not the same.

If you really want to know what someone else is thinking or feeling, you have to ask them. Even then, they might not tell you. Maybe they donít know themselves. Maybe they donít know how to put it into words. Maybe they donít want you to know. But thatís the only way you have a chance of finding out what someone else is thinking or feeling.

When you try to deduce what other people are thinking or feeling from what you would think or feel in that situation, you make the assumption that everyone is basically the same. Maybe thatís right, basically. You use that reasoning when you decide how to treat other people. The Golden Rule is ďDo unto others as you would have them do unto you.Ē Itís a pretty good rule. But, itís better applied in a general way. Inasmuch as we are all human beings, we are all basically the same. Inasmuch as we are all individuals, we are all very different.

My husband might buy me a present on my birthday. He would be right in thinking that I would like to get a present because he likes to get presents on his birthday. But, then again, if he buys me a cordless drill because he likes cordless drills, heís gonna be in trouble!

When you try to deduce what other people are thinking or feeling from what someone said they were thinking or feeling in that situation, you make the assumption that different people react the same way in the same situation. Sometimes thatís true, but often peopleís reactions differ in the extreme.

I donít know how much difference there is between human beings when they are first born, except physically, but what we like and donít like, want and donít want, need and donít need, fear and donít fear, sure seems to diverge as we go through life. And each of us is on a unique journey, different from everyone elseís. Nothing looks exactly the same to anyone else and we canít know exactly how anyone else thinks or feels about anything.

Then there are the times when the situation is really not the same, even when the same people are involved, it just appears to be.

Of course, sometimes it is true that you have guessed what someone else is thinking or feeling. And sometimes you might have even caught them being selfish or lazy or whatever. But you can never know when that has actually happened and, anyway, then what? You could accuse them of acting badly and watch them squirm, maybe. More likely, they would point out your failure to achieve perfection yourself. But whatís the goal? If the goal is to do the right thing and get the job done, then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to help you with that. Making them feel bad just gets in the way. Fighting with them makes it almost impossible.

It turns out that the best thing to do is to ask, even when you are certain that you know, what other people are thinking and feeling. They will probably explain. You might be surprised to find out how wrong you were and be convinced to change your approach. If the explanation is lame, they will know it as well as you do. Usually, people wonít use a lame explanation more than once, if you just let them off the hook this one time! It is not important to get them to admit that they donít have a good reason for what they are doing. Whatís important is to do the right thing and accomplish all your goals. You have to ask for what you want and find out if they will help you. If they will, it doesnít matter that they had a lapse in perfection. If they wonít, it still doesnít matter. It just means you need to find help elsewhere. If their job is to deliver what you are asking for, you might have to let them go and hire someone else, but thereís still no reason to get mad at them, and getting mad at them wonít help.

On the other hand, if you donít want to know what someone thinks, donít ask. People are accountable for their words and actions, not their thoughts and feelings. They donít have to tell you everything they think and feel. If nothing they say will change your mind and it will make them mad because you donít care what they say (probably!), donít ask. Hopefully, these are not people on your team, because you should care what people on your team think, unless you were planning on doing this all by yourself, maybe? If you suspect someone is not 100 percent behind your plan and it will just irritate you if they confirm that, donít ask. If a decision has been made and they are doing their part, they donít have to pledge allegiance every day. Before you get started, it is in your best interest to let everyone tell you what their reservations are and what options they think would be better. You need that input to make sure you havenít overlooked something important. But everybody doesnít have to agree 100 percent for a course of action to be taken. If 100 percent agreement were required from all parties, no plan would ever be implemented. If the plan is a good one, they will probably be convinced eventually. If it isnít, youíll need them. even more than those who agreed with you, to help you find a better idea!

You donít know what other people are thinking and feeling, you have to ask if you want to know. Every once in a while, you might be able to guess what people are thinking and feeling, but it wonít make any difference. You still have to ask, to be certain that you have guessed correctly, and, more importantly, to be able to talk to them about it, if they are willing to talk and if you are willing to listen.



Next Section: People Are Accountable for Their Words and Actions

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