the high road

by mch on November 10, 2008

A colleague of mine was in a bind.  She had been stopped dead in her tracks, unable to work without more resources, more time, and more support.  She was at the end of her rope, ready to engage in a full-on war with those in power over her.

But before she had a chance to launch her attack, we talked about testing every assumption that she could find in her thinking about how she’d been wronged.  How did she know the intentions of her foil?  About what could she find more information to clarify her perspective?  And whom did she need to contact to register her frustration, seek more information, and officially notify of her dissent?

This isn’t the first conversation I – or many of you – have had like this.  We can all be quick to draw our swords when the information that’s built our ire (or worse) has been – at best – flawed.  And we all need help from time to time backing up, getting perspective, and assessing what we truly know about any given situation.  Testing our assumptions, fact-checking, and directly communicating to those with whom we disagree can save us in the long run.  Again, no surprises there.

The funny thing is that we don’t always take these steps.

We’re imperfect beings and often miss the chance to take the higher road, especially if we’re feeling attacked or defensive.  Our egos come into play and suddenly we’re more invested in protecting ourselves than we are in reaching our goal or improving our working conditions (especially if there are communication problems with a co-worker or colleague).  The siren song of defending our pride or protecting our ego lures us away from significant opportunities to change how we work.  

It requires enormous amounts of self-awareness and self-control to take the high road once our egos are in play.   The good news is that we can build that awareness of self as we decide what steps to take.   How is your next step helping you achieve your goal?  Or are you striving to save your pride?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lee LeFever November 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm

We’ve been talking about the high road here at Common Craft and doing what we can to take it. We’re lucky to have fans that are inspired by our work. We wouldn’t trade them for anything. However, sometimes their inspiration is borne out in videos that are very similar to ours and create confusion. Some call them rip-offs and it’s easy to get all uptight about them. But we’ve learned not to.

Instead we assume positive intentions. The people who make videos like ours are sometimes our biggest fans who never intended to create confusion. By approaching the issue (and them personally) with a positive assumption, it’s easier to talk about the issue at hand and not come off like a bully.

So, that’s my 2 cents. :)

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