August 13, 2020•810 words
If this question were a character in a movie, it'd be the villain destined to prick your ego and question your self-worth in sequel after predictable sequel. The kind of movie where you instantly know the plot from watching the trailer. Yet somehow, you can't help but sit through the whole thing.
Why didn't you follow the (regulations/guidelines/unwritten rules) like I told you?
Everyone knows (regulations/guidelines/unwritten rules) it's not done that way!
These statements could have been made by one co-worker to another about something work related, it could also have been made by one spouse to another one fine Netflix evening.
Criticism, judgement, blame.
These are the supporting characters for our villain, let's call this being "the devalorizer". These stalwart companions can be found in our modern work culture and happily make cameos in family functions, your favourite talk shows, and any scarcity or scare filled broadcast in your local news. Like the main villain, they seek to devalue you, your decisions, your worth, your identity, and pretty much anything you attach importance to.
In terms of the workplace, you can get a whiff of them in the questions that are asked in an interview, "Tell me about a weakness you have."
They can be found trading whispers behind closed doors, in secret deciding who is worthy of an increase in compensation.
They're found haunting your psyche, watching for any misstep, imagined or otherwise. They still make an appearance in my life.
Why don't you teach?
A post by V.Rao titled models vs actors, argues the difference between a good question and a bad question that independent consultants need to consider. An example of a good question to reflect on in order to differentiate yourself is:
"What are the unique associations that (people) attach to me?"
One association that I frequently hear people share with me is that of 'professor', that I could be a good teacher. On reflection, what I believe people were responding to, was something that piqued their curiosity. Largely due to my own cocktail of 'bias' that connected a recent piece of information I had come across and wove into our conversation. Their heart was in the right place, but as I reflect on what I do well, they had the spirit of it right, but the conclusion was far off the mark.
What did they sense?
Most memorable however is a compliment I was given by someone I'd had all of 5 minutes with. It was to the effect of "You have a very calming presence, I'm sure you're a great host". I didn't understand why she called me a 'host' when we were at a facilitator's forum. So I demurred and said I get it from my mother. It's a habit I was chastised for in the past, so I quickly corrected my error and I thanked her for the compliment.
What's interesting about what people identify in you, is that it represents an acknowledgment of what they have experience with. Or put another way, it may be that people can more readily sense what they've experienced and internalized. For a peek into the difference between teaching, facilitating, and hosting, see this chart and thread below.
Listen to the people you trust.
There are many people who are at the ready to dissuade you, they're most likely people that know you well. By that I mean, they are intimately familiar with an instance of you in a fixed point in time. As my words unfold in your mind's eye, your synapses electrify and build connections, a testament to your constant and consistent intimate experience with change.
You've never been stuck in time or space, but like the people who know a shadow of yourself, it is easier to see a shadow cast long before you as objective truth, than as a momentary reflection.
When we pay attention, and start to notice statements of criticism, judgement and blame parading as objective truths as opposed to incomplete momentary reflections, we can begin to identify, like a bad movie, when to stop paying attention.
Find the people you can trust. You'll recognize them, because they'll simply listen. I hope you can do the same.