The degree to which
you can lead your own
Just the Facts, Ma’am
If only Joe Friday, the no-nonsense
officer from television’s Dragnet series,
could be the voice inside our heads,
reminding us to focus on the facts, our
meeting of the minds would be much
more efficient. Unfortunately, much of
what is said in our head is based on
assumption, supposition or down right
Consider some typical internal dialogue:
voices will determine
your ability to lead your
audience and clients to
make decisions and
make a difference.
Monitor the value you place on the
opinions of others and the power of
authority you “give” them over the
voices in your head. Of course, you
are always in control of what you say
to yourself, but if you are not careful,
you may inadvertently give another
person permission to hold a higher
priority in your head than you even
give yourself. Your opinion should
count for something, for most things.
“That guy in the fifth row. Look at him. He’s bored. He
hates what I just said.” That may be true. Then again,
maybe he has jet lag, or was the last one to leave last
night’s Welcome Reception.
“Michelle walked right by me at convention, didn’t even
say ‘Hello.’ She must be mad at me. What did I do? Doesn’t she like me anymore?” Or, maybe Michelle had an
urgent need to be first in line at the ladies room. It might
be just that simple and have nothing at all to do with
you. Imagine that!
“Bob hasn’t replied to my e-mail, so he must not want to
talk to me.” Come on. Bob is probably just as busy as you
are and hasn’t been able to see the virtual bottom of his
overflowing inbox in weeks.
But our internal voices tell us otherwise, don’t they? Next
time your internal voice jumps to an emotional conclusion,
ask yourself, “What else could it mean?” And listen for Joe
Friday’s voice focusing on the facts.
Some days in our business, it’s as if a tornado is happening
in our head. There are thoughts flying around everywhere,
clients to please, speeches to write, products to create, Web
sites to update, and on and on and on. Few people put “take
care of me” on their list of “to-dos” and thus it is usually
placed on the proverbial back burner of life.
Whether you have taken care of you, things happen. We
age, we grow, we gain and we lose, and the reality is that we
notice it far more so than anyone else does. Thinking straight
includes a clear analysis of whether you really are what you
think and you really do what you thought. It also includes
considering how much someone else’s opinion of you is a
result of his or her own “stuff.”
Maybe that one participant evaluated you poorly because
you reminded him of an ex-girlfriend. Certainly that is his
stuff, or issue, not yours. But you have to be thinking straight
and clearly, and exercising effective internal voice management to come to that conclusion.
What if, just by chance, it does mean what you thought at first?
Michelle didn’t say hi because she was bothered by you. Bob
didn’t reply because your e-mail did not get his attention or you’re
just not a priority with him. The key question is, do you care?
No mean-spirited, cold-hearted intent here. It’s merely a
question most of us forget to ask. If someone doesn’t like
you, maybe that is okay. We tell others that we can’t make
everyone happy and that we won’t please all the people all
the time, yet why is it that when it comes down to the business of managing our own internal voices, we conveniently
delete that message?
Are you tired or fatigued right now? Are you stressed out
about projects you may be working on? Is your personal life
experiencing challenges? All of these circumstances can lead
to a warped perception of reality. They can also lead to more
severe reactions and a higher sensitivity.
Have you ever overreacted only to realize later that what
you reacted to really wasn’t so bad after all, which then left
you with considerable damage control? It happens. But if you
are able to pay attention to what else is going on in your life
and manage the emotions that your mind will tell you are
warranted, you can avoid a dangerous situation.