Just Make It Work

Two things are happening simultaneously in our organizational cultures, our markets, and our personal lives.

We have established non-curiosity (“I don’t care how it works, I just want it to work”) as the new standard for engaging with the work, the ideas that interest us (or not) and the world of conflicts that inevitably surround us.

We have also decided that we don’t have the time or emotional or mental bandwidth to care deeply about a topic, person, or idea, and thus we have jettisoned that character trait (caring) as well.

At the same time, for anyone who is interested enough to look, there has been an explosion in the ways that people are explaining what they do, why they do, and—most importantly—how they do it. From videos on the Internet to long-form blog posts, to intentional curation via your email, to documentaries streaming on your over-the-top video player, there are more people taking more time, to explain what they do, to more interested (curious) and caring audiences than ever before.

These two cultural occurrences represent a split and a niching down into time, attention, caring, and curiosity that is dividing audiences, and may well portend a future of less curiosity and caring at mass, and more curation, curiosity, and even care, at the edges of the conflict universe.

The things that matter, the solutions that “stick,” the statements that are meaningful, and the audiences who will care about the impresario’s show, are not going to be found in the immediate, speed driven, bite-sized, mass market.

They will be found at the edges, slowly, over time, and they will be hungering for you to arrive, with your deeply thought out solutions to their most pressing problems.

Disconnect as the New Standard

The disconnect between what people know about how the Internet (and by extension social media) “works” (choices, behaviors, options, etc.) and what people use the Internet (and social media) to accomplish (tasks) is underrated and massive.

Part of the disconnect comes from a lack of interest and caring about how the world of communication (and the tools in it) work, not only for the people with whom we are immediately communicating but also for the people not part of the communication.

Part of the disconnect comes from distractions that exist in the world of social interactions between people, and differing filters of awareness and attention. Individuals pay attention to all kinds of things that other individuals believe are unnecessary, irrelevant, uninteresting, or even unknowable. And then, because the human mind seeks order out of chaos, individuals, make judgments, create attributions, and create frames and boxes for language and ideas that further the disconnect.

Part of the disconnect comes from a lack of curiosity and even a lack of education about what to pay attention to. Lack of curiosity is endemic in discussion around the Internet (and social media) because our communication tools have prioritized lack of curiosity as the “new normal” in social interactions.  Lack of education comes about when the market responds to a lack of curiosity as a new standard, and then complies by providing less nourishing meat (education) and more easily digestible milk (displays where people advance by how well they kiss).

The disconnect is massive and troubling, for two reasons:

In the market’s breakneck race to monetize every human interaction and behavior, combined with the alarming reduction in human economic productivity, we have a recipe for a society and culture where the very tools of educating, enlightening and uplifting are being monetized and controlled by a select few individuals—or organizations.

Which would be fine if those individuals and organizations were angels, but like most people, they’re just people.

The second reason is economic in that we have prioritized facility and adaptation as ways to get ahead in a world of Internet-based (and social media based) communications where competition for attention and awareness is fiercer than ever. But if the average individual is non-curious (or too disinterested or disconnected to care) about where their future dollars to pay their future electric bills are going to come from, then we have opened society to the wavering whims of every political, social, cultural, and economic demagogue (both individual and organizational) promising to make such important decisions “simple.”

“Simple” of course meaning, “Simple in a way that works for me, my power base, and my tribe, and creates distractions, confusion, disillusionment, and disengagement, for you, your power base, and your tribe.”

Which would be fine if those individuals and organizations were angels, but like most people, they’re just people.

A standard of anti-intellectualism comes from a standard of non-curiosity, which combined with the disconnect between people and how they use their new communications tools, leads to the creation of a world of communication, rhetoric, persuasion, and power, we should all be wary of.

To resist the new standard, we need to fight to establish access to education about how to use our new social tools across the disconnect, eliminate distractions as a way to encourage disillusionment and disengagement, and re-establish curiosity about the unknown (or about blind spots) as an alternative “normal.”

Otherwise, the conflict outcomes could be disastrous for everyone.

Caring Costs

Caring costs.

It costs to be empathetic to your employees’ emotional needs.

It costs to be mindful of the non-verbal messages you’re role modeling.

It costs to be engaged all the time in the active act of actively listening.

It costs to develop connections that gain you nothing in the short-term.

It costs to care when that caring may not be “enough” for the other party when what was really desired by the other party was a transactional act, not a relational one.

Caring costs.

But what else are you going to invest your emotional energy in?

Core Emotional Alchemy

Do you care?

This is the binary core question that we avoid asking out loud, or ask each other in unclear, murky, nonverbal ways, or just don’t ask at all.

This is the right question to ask before thinking of strategies to engage in the practice of emotional alchemy. The kind of alchemy that transmutes emotional labor into motivation in other people.

Alchemy has long been considered a joke, but in leadership, conflict management, and emotional labor, the placebo effect of emotional alchemy is just beginning to be part of a core conversation about how to motivate others.

But the fact is, no one knows (really) how to extrinsically, or intrinsically, motivate others, render them “unlazy,” or otherwise get them to do the work that matters at the level you would like them to do it.

And any article that proposes to do so, is selling a brand of alchemy all its own.

[Opinion] Listening When You Don’t Care

Listening when you don’t care is hard, because of four reasons:

We want things to be easy—The word “easy” just means that, on our terms, the interaction of listening, requires nothing of us—or the minimal amount of emotional labor possible.

We want things to be our way—we are selfish. There’s nothing surprising about this. But what is surprising is the number of different covers we place on top of our selfish tendencies, in an attempt to conform to whatever behavior the social group demands.

We want interactions to be friction-free—this just means that, the more direct the communication—or the more direct we think the communication is—the easier it seems for us to engage in. And by the way, this also means that, as long as people agree with us, and things are our way, we have stasis and security.

We want to be right—this is the other part of selfishness in our communications, and like most parts of our interpersonal communications, it’s deeply internal.

Then there’re the adoption curve:

On any distribution for anything in the material world, or in the human experience, there are people who are early adopters (easily understood and understanding) there are people who are late adopters (barely understood, and barely understanding) and then there’s the vast bulge of people in the middle.

The people in the middle are those people who don’t really care if things are easy to understand, or hard to understand, they just want the communication to work, preferably for them, or their situation.

The trouble with the middle is that it’s where everyone believes that they are. In reality the bulge is heavy at the left side of the curve. Many of us are not really listening at all, because we’re not really caring at all…

At the heart of listening—rather than not listening, or only listening long enough to find out when we can jump in to refute whatever is being said—is emotional labor: caring unselfishly, delaying the gratification that comes from stating our point, engaging with the friction rather than seeking to reduce it, and abandoning the impulse to be right.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Strategy] Innovation and Change

The problem stopping most workplace innovation and change strategies, is that too many people–founders, funders, entrepreneurs, owners, and starters–have thought too little about how they personally and professionally respond and react to a culture built on change and innovation.

Innovation for Human Failure #2

We’ve addressed this before:

You get up and go to work every morning and work with people whom you have developed third level relationships. You are tasked with accomplishing goals that may have little to no meaning for you. And in exchange, you are compensated with pieces of paper with the pictures of deceased leaders on them.

Then, changes happen (or innovation arrives), both internal and external and you are required to manage the change, manage the disruption you feel about the change and manage the responses and reactions of the other people who are impacted by the change.

In exchange for expending the emotional labor required to do this successfully, sometimes you are recognized and rewarded in ways that matter to you. Sometimes you aren’t. Too many organizations are still led by managers, teams and supervisors at the middle management level who think “Well, you got a paycheck this week. So that’s good enough.” Even worse, many of those same organizations were founded, funded and continued by people with the same Industrial Revolution, Henry Ford mindset.

Some of this is mindset is changing, no doubt.

With the work that human resource researchers, behavioral psychologists and organizational experts are doing throughout the world, the workplace is gradually shifting. As we noted in a workshop that we facilitated the other day, we are all collectively exiting the hangover remaining from the Industrial Revolution.

Innovation for people and organizations, true innovation, will require founders, funders, entrepreneurs, owners, and starters, to turn the corner on two corrosive mindsets that remain, leading to all kinds of conflicts, both internal and external:

We have to stop thinking of innovation as an imposition.

People, whether employees, supervisors, managers or executives, are not prone to behaving in change-oriented ways. Because of our biology, reinforced through work, social and personal cultures, we are inclined to favor the least amount of resistance (or friction) possible. This response, of course comes from the flight and fight parts of our brains. We rationalize these responses in many different ways, but for the most part, people tend to view innovation they did not initiate as an imposition, rather than as an improvement.

We have to stop making change a “value container” for our personal issues.

People make judgements and rationalize their responses to changes in many different ways, but the biggest way is that people determine that change is really a verdict on past decisions. Specifically, an indictment. This pre-conceived judgement comes from the idea that “what came before must have been bad.” This type of thinking paralyzes people in endless meaningless arguments about the validity of past decisions, closes people off to determining how the material fact of change can be integrated into the present circumstances, and blinds people with fear about what other changes the future may hold.

Innovation and change are merely stories, told by people desiring a new narrative.

Innovation and change always comes with conflict and conflict is an incubator of change.

Without founders, funders, entrepreneurs, owners, and starters doing the hard work of laying the groundwork of wellbeing, strengths based leadership, emotional intelligence, and conflict engagement skills training in their cultures from the beginning, organizations will continue to find it difficult to innovate.

Even as the waves of external changes, buffet them back and forth across the blue ocean of business.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/
HSCT’s website: http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com/

2 Cups of Active Listening

There are two parts to active listening.

Two Cups of Active Listening

The listening without speaking part is obvious.

What’s not so obvious is the listening with

  • honor
  • consideration
  • and caring.

These require exercising patience, which goes out of the window if you are dialed in on what you’re saying and thinking–and how to respond to the other person–rather than the actual emotional content of the other person’s statements.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA

Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/
HSCT’s website: http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com