The Verbal Bridge from Here to There
A few years ago, we got a bird feeder to hang above our deck.
It was the kind of feeder that when anything much larger than a mid-size bird, like a Cardinal, would attempt to land on it, it would weigh the outer sleeve down and block access to the feed. I was often entertained by the squirrels climbing all over it trying to figure out how to get in. After a while, I decided to start putting seed on the deck rail for the squirrels.
As this routine continued, if I hadn’t put food on the rail, one of the squirrels would boldly sit outside and look in the window during morning coffee, sitting upright, paws folded in prayer style with a “hey bro, you bringing food out anytime soon?!” manner.
Considering this a communication, I would comply, occasionally adding a pecan to the mix. It wasn’t long before he was bold enough to take it out of my hand, albeit both of us being cautious.
It was a delightful relationship, and then one day he stopped coming.
Missing him and our interactions, I endeavored to find another bold squirrel. That was a year ago. There were plenty of squirrels… just no takers.
Routinely, for the past year, I continued the effort consciously endeavoring to connect again. Then recently, another little friend stepped forward. She isn’t taking food from my hand yet, but she comes scampering down when the food shows up and isn’t hesitant to get up close and personal.
To be honest, I’m delighted! It’s been a long project to see if I can connect again. The first guy showed me how. This one has taken a year of intention and perseverance…not to mention a whole lot of seeds.
OK, Craig, nice story, what’s the point?
Well, if with intention and persistence I finally connect with a squirrel, I thought,“shouldn’t people be a lot easier?” They should! So how come I gave up those many times when working to resolve an issue, create a partnership, or align others on an idea or project, after far less persistence or intention than what I dedicated to the squirrel.
I didn’t have any judgements about the squirrels.
With people, however, I don’t usually have that freedom. We humans are judgmental machinery. How we were raised as kids left us with a collection of beliefs anchored deep in emotional pockets. When those beliefs get triggered, we tend to get resolute. We listen confidently to things that align with those beliefs and with equal confidence deflect thinking that challenges them. The technical term is “confirmation bias.”
It’s on neon display in American current events (2021).
We like to think we are open to fresh thinking, but are we really? And what cost do we pay? Can we really listen to another, if what they think violates our own beliefs, especially when the judgments start piling up?
I find it’s difficult to press through my judgments, except for the prize on the other side. It’s a little embarrassing, yet revealing to me, that I would so persist in connecting with a critter and yet write some humans off so quickly, and to my detriment.
I wanted to connect. It gave me simple joy. And I took the time to build a relationship of trust so I could.
It reminded me of something we often coach executives and teams in…
”Every interaction has two parts; the desired result and the relationship between the parties.” – Nestor Figueroa
Even in situations where you just met, there is some relationship. Some people are focused on getting their result, and they don’t pay a lot of attention to the relationship. Some are focused on relationships and can lose sight of the results.
If you pay attention to both result AND relationship, you are going to get a different outcome than if you are heavy handed on one or the other.
Who are the important people, personal or business, that you gave up on, while wishing for a different outcome?
Did you focus too much on what you wanted and not enough on them, or did you focus too much on the relationship and ended up not getting what you wanted?
Or what judgments got in the way?
The good news is, it’s rarely too late! You can be right about your judgements or you can go for a relationship that gives you both returns. Who in your life is worth going back to? You just might make the connection this time.
Have a great week;
Fundamental #13: FIND A WAY Respond to every situation by looking for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done. Take personal responsibility. Be innovative, assertive, and take initiative.
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