I attended a talk by Gus Balbontin recently. He mentioned how people complain about being “stuck in traffic”. Forgetting that “we are the traffic”. This got me thinking…
We can be blind to the impact we have on situations. We take the role of observer. Objective bystander. When our very presence means we are a participant.
I sometimes hear people blaming the “culture” in their workplace. They seem to overlook that their words and actions add to the many parts that form culture.
I get caught in it too. For example, I talk to teams about the importance of creating psychological safety. The ability to be vulnerable and take risks with each other. Yet, I may forget to listen or make space for others in the same conversation.
How do we get a better perspective? How can we overcome this blind spot? How do we grow in self-awareness and make a positive influence?
Acknowledge that we are a participant. It may feel small but we do impact our environments. We may have to admit that we’ve contributed to a negative situation. Perhaps even apologise. I’ve had to!
Take part with intent. There is a lot outside of our control. But we can choose our attitude and responses.
This is where autonomy comes in. The ability to make choices. In an organisational setting, this translates to choice within constraints. Budgets, hierarchy, regulations etc. When we take responsibility for something we exercise our autonomy. We meet one of our psychological needs by being intentional.
Set up external checks. We all have biases that impact our decision making. Including the Blind-spot bias where we fail to recognise we have biases!
You may need an outside voice. A coach or colleague who can ask what difference your actions are making or provide feedback on the impact you are having. For example, I can check in with workshop attendees around levels of psychological safety after the session.
Or set a reminder on your phone each day to stop and reflect on how you are participating.
Or a simple a note on your desk or, better still, your car dashboard that says “YOU ARE THE TRAFFIC!”
Do you need an outside voice? I’d love to talk further.
Doug Maarschalk is a trainer, facilitator and coach who uses the principles of intrinsic motivation as the foundation for his work. He has worked with New Zealand businesses in the horticulture, legal, accounting, financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors.
Read more about the Services Doug provides and the Clients he has worked with.