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Dr. Jim Bailey
Guiding You to Work that FIts
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Work-Life Blog

About Your Work-Life

The One Mistake You're Probably Making

When I meet with a Business Management Client, or even the parent or spouse of a Career Client, I can almost count on them telling me they’re confused or frustrated by the thinking and behavior of their employee, their child or their spouse. Most would probably sum it up by saying something like, “I just don’t understand why she/he acts this way!” 

After years of helping people, families and organizations, I believe their real frustration is that the other person doesn’t think or act in a way that makes sense to them. Given this, most might be more accurate to say, “They should think and act like me, but they don’t!”

It’s a mistake we all make. We think that everyone else perceives life and the world, and then thinks about these things exactly like we do. 

Don’t believe me? Think about a time you were driving somewhere and someone acted erratically – drove too fast, was weaving in traffic or cut you off. If you’re like me you probably railed about the “crazy”, “dangerous” or “idiot” driver behind the wheel of the other car. None of us probably stopped to consider what, exactly, was the cause of the other person’s actions.

My point isn’t some morality lesson, it’s this: Our assumption that the people around us do (or should) perceive and think about the world like we do is false!

I’ve worked with dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals and here are two truths that could change the way you interact with other people:

1)    Most people in the world don’t perceive it and think about it like I do. The basic hardwiring of their brains is significantly different than mine. Therefore, I cannot presume that they will notice the same things and think about them the way that I do.

2)    No one in the world has had the family, life (and work) experiences I have had. Their experiences are at least somewhat different and often greatly different than mine. Therefore, I cannot presume that they have the same framework for thinking about life (and work) that I have.

My doctoral advisor once shared a bit of wisdom with me. He said, “Jim, all human behavior is purposeful. Our challenge is to understand the purpose that behavior serves in a person’s life.

That doesn’t mean someone else’s purposeful behavior will make sense to me or fit with my moral or ethical sensibilities. It does mean that I can begin to understand the other person and his or her actions if I “ask” the right questions. And, if I understand them, then I can begin to interact with them in more productive ways.

This will sound arrogant, but I make my living by asking the right questions. Understanding how someone’s mind works and the experiences that are the foundation for how they interact with the world are pivotal for me to give them accurate guidance about how to make the right decisions about a career path, improve a business’ productivity or morale, or improve their ability to manage and move their team in the right direction.

If the thinking or actions of someone close to you – a loved one, an employee or even your boss – is a mystery that’s been making your life difficult, Let’s Talk. A 10-minute phone call might just give you some answers you hadn’t considered and help you change your life.

James Bailey