What we think we see or hear isn’t necessarily the reality. Everyone has a different map of the world and will interpret what we say or what they see in a way that conforms to their perception of reality. This is an important factor to remember when we are managing teams and individuals.
I was running a coaching session with a management team earlier this week and we had a great example of this. One of the managers was having problems with one of their team, their work had become sloppy and they were being disruptive and it was having an effect on others in the department. It was only when the manager sat down with the individual that it came to light that factors outside work were the cause of the issues at work rather than it being purely work related. Finding this out put a completely different slant on the situation and resulted in the manager handling the matter in a completely different way.
The following video is an old advert for The Guardian which sums up the need to consider all angles before coming to a conclusion really well:
This also works from the other end of the telescope. As a manager we need to think about how what we say can possibly be interpreted. The manager of Liverpool, Roy Hodgson, is coming under increasing scrutiny for some of the comments he makes in interviews and press conferences. He is alienating the vast majority of the Liverpool fan base with comments such as this following the defeat against closest rivals Everton:
“We didn’t score goals and Everton did but I refuse to accept that we were in any way outplayed or any way inferior. I watched the performance and the second half was as good as I saw a Liverpool team play under my management that is for sure.”
I have no doubt that Roy was trying to display an attitude of defiance, we will not let this result hold us back, we are on an upward spiral etc. Unfortunately this back fired as Liverpool fans had watched an insipid display by their team against their bitter rivals and his comments came on top of other comments from him describing a Liverpool win at Goodison as being “Utopia”. Bearing in mind that in recent seasons Liverpool have had an extremely good record against Everton, his choice of language created the impression of someone who didn’t expect to win, someone who doesn’t have the belief and level of ambition expected of a Liverpool manager. He is creating problems for himself by not thinking through how his comments can be interpreted by those listening and reading. He is saying one thing and others are seeing something completely different. Perhaps he could do with some coaching?
It’s like the dancer below, you may want to see her moving in a clockwise direction, but in reality is she really moving anti-clockwise?
Can you change your perception and get her to change direction?