Want to work differently? Start by practicing inquiry before judgement at work

Each week presents an opportunity to contribute to a better work environment. In previous articles, I focused on engagement & appreciation at work  and making work fun, engaging and inspiring 

The list is by no means exhausted but it is fair to say that there is a lot going on in today’s working world. Faced with these day to day realities and a constant pressure to be reactive most work environments provide little time for reflection, conscious adjustment, constructive dialogue and learning.

We may understand our own needs, know our departmental objectives and be attuned to our team’s requirements but in a bid to achieve, we rarely take the time to extend ourselves beyond that and find out more about another individual, team or department. We find ourselves working in silos and creating “us against them” and “me against you” thinking.

So concretely what can you do this week?

Whether you are a manager or a team member, this week is all about practicing the principle of inquiry before judgment. For anyone wanting to invest in a better work environment this principle is so simple in its essence yet so fundamental in its core. A word of caution though, applying this principle does require openness, honesty, self-reflection and self-evaluation.

Chances are this week you will find yourself in a situation at work where things don’t quite go your way. Maybe a project is delayed or someone missed a deadline. Perhaps you encounter a communication challenge with another department or the quality of a deliverable does not meet your expectations. Try these 3 things and see how they work for you:

1)     First recognize that few if any employees come to work in the morning with the intention, desire or objective to under-perform, frustrate, be ineffective, make mistakes or be incompetent. The majority of your colleagues, peers, direct reports and line managers show up at work wanting to do a good job. People may have different considerations, pieces of information or understanding of a given situation but at the end of the day most people want to succeed in their jobs.

2)     Do you know all the facts or just your facts? Do you have the full picture of a situation or just your picture? In his book Conscious Business, Fred Kofman distinguishes between ontological arrogance and ontological humilityOntological arrogance is the misguided belief that our view is the only view. While ontological humility recognizes that our view is just one view among many. To gain some more insights have a look at the 12 transformations from unconscious to conscious business

3)     Have you really taken time to understand the perspectives of other individuals or departments on a given issue? Why are they for or against a certain solution, why may they need more time to make a decision, why are certain things a priority for them and other things are simply not that important to them right now. If you have taken that time, then how fairly did you treat the information you received? Did you actively seek to understand or did you just pick the information that was most convenient for you? Have you critically reflected on our own thought process and biases in the particular scenario?

Practicing inquiry before judgement support a positive working environment by giving people the benefit of doubt. Be proactive in finding out how someone else may see a situation and why. Be open to learn about other people’s constraints and considerations. Listen and engage. Above all take a moment to reflect on whether you really have the full picture or just merely your own view of a given situation.

Start your week differently each week. Read previous articles on engagement & appreciation at work and making work fun, engaging and inspiring

Do you have other tips that have worked in your own workplace to help create a more positive, conducive and engaging environment?

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