Thursday, March 31, 2011

Management Strategy Lesson: How People Think (And How You Might Think That They Do!)

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This article was written by it author (obvious, eh?) and originally published in the BRAINTENANCE Blog, at . Regarding the embedded photo below, just remember....things are not always what they may seem to be. Don't assume.

Management Strategy Lesson: How People Think (And How You Might Think That They Do!)

Dear Managers, Leaders, Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Great Thinkers:

Ponder This: You cannot manage people unless you understand how they think. You must understand their thought processes, not by assumption, but by experience and observation. And people do not come with instruction booklets telling us how their thought processes work (or don't work).

A Horrible Example: I've heard people say that, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!"

While you might use this analogy to demonstrate that, in a situation where most individuals are similarly challenged (physically, emotionally, intellectually, educationally, etc.), the least of the challenged has the greatest advantage, relatively speaking -- there might well be someone in your audience who is following a different thought process (i.e., generalizing, analogizing, extrapolating), and who is thinking, "That means that in the land of  one-eyed men, the blind man is king!'

Things To Think About, When Dealing With Others In Communications and Management:

1) You have an inherent bias toward believing that people think as you do. Be as conscious of it as you can;

2) Do not be convinced that someone understands you unless he or she can repeat to you, in his or her own words and voice, the essence of what you've said;

3) Do not be convinced that you have made yourself clear if people either nod their heads vigorously -- or conversely -- if they say nothing. People, especially in groups, do not generally like to admit to being confused or to failing to grasp an idea.

4) Study behavioral psychology as well as the art of command. You'll need the first to understand the terrain of the mind. You'll need the second to be able to leverage, most effectively, the first;

5) People are similar in more ways than they are different -- but those differences can be vast;

6) Listen and study the people around you, above you and in your charge -- observe behavioral patterns so that you can better predict how each person or a group of persons will respond to a given instruction, challenge or situational context;

7) Constantly ask people to "clarify" what they mean -- you might be just as prone to misunderstanding (or arriving at the wrong conclusion) as they are.

Barrage Of Wisdom:

Observe. Question. Practice. Learn your own biases. Learn other people's biases. Read body language. Be concerned about what appears to be unconditional agreement. Be concerned about silence in response to anything you've said. Know that people might be reacting to things that have happened (or are happening) to them over which you have no control and about which you might not know [overreacting, underreacting, etc.]. Know that people do not readily admit how they are thinking and what they are thinking about.

Sad Ending: Today I heard a middle-aged woman (she was close to 70) sigh and say, "Ignorance is bliss." The quote, dear Madam(e), was not that "ignorance is bliss." Ignorance is simply ignorance. The quote, dear Madam(e) was, according to my long-demised playwrite friend Bill S., was, (to paraphrase just a bit) "If ignorance be bliss, then 'tis folly to be wise." It was, taken in proper context, a conditional statement.

One might be led to think (based upon that lovely, albeit misguided, lady's unconditional statement) that "Knowledge is suffering." Perhaps we should all stop learning to cease our miseries...

A Thing To Avoid: Do not ask someone, "Do you think I'm an idiot?" - They might decide to be tactlessly honest at that moment. Worse, do not ask someone, "What kind of an idiot do you think I am?" - They might actually recite a litany of the various types and subclasses of idiocy and say that the question is impossible to answer without a more thorough evaluation of your behavior, or -- they may state, matter-of-factly, that they do not have the requisite professional qualifications to render an authoritative and definitive diagnosis.


Douglas Castle
Chairman and CEO,

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