Topic of the Week Dumb & Dumbest: Reducing Distorted Thinking at Work
- DON'T jump to conclusions or make assumptions.
- DON'T discount yourself.
- DON'T blame yourself.
- DON'T practice all or nothing thinking.
There is a lot of distorted and destructive thinking in corporations today. Don't believe me? Then I'd like to hear your explanation for the massive implosions at Enron, Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, etc. Which all reminds me of a Colorado man who claimed he was shot as he was trying to defend himself from a mugger. After searching the area for the assailants, police began to notice inconsistencies in the victim's story. Eventually the man confessed that he'd made it all up to get a ride home from the police because he was out of cell phone minutes.
Unfortunately many of us shoot ourselves not with a gun, but with our own brand of distorted thinking at work. That's why I'll give you three Do's and one Don't to become a more realistic thinker. For more, check out Lisa Caldas Kappesser's book "Smart Way to Get Hired" (Jist, 2010).
DON'T discount yourself. Good ideas, we've all had them. But often we'll get the idea and then spend weeks discrediting it, and ourselves, for thinking of it. I adopt a different approach. I don't assume that my idea is good or bad. I just develop it a bit inside my own head and then I bounce it off a few colleagues. I've had both some real winners, and some ideas that got rejected early on thanks to this approach.
DON'T jump to conclusions or make assumptions. Okay, we all know what assumptions can do to you and me (mostly it revolves around the first three letters in the word). We often can kill our own best ideas by leaping to conclusions about them and why they'll never fly. Give yourself some credit, and avoid quick conclusions and assumptions and your ideas just may surprise you.
DON'T blame yourself. Which reminds me of a time when I was living with a woman and an old friend came to visit. The romantic relationship was on its last legs and things hit the fan during my friend's visit. I ended up moving out midway through his stay. I told him that it all had nothing to do with him. But years later, he still thought it was all his fault. We have to be careful of our tendency to hold ourselves accountable for things that are way outside of our responsibilities and pay grade.
DON'T practice all or nothing thinking. Splitting the difference works great in many negotiations, and it also can be helpful when you're trying to break out of old thought patterns. Be wary of seeing the world as black and white or right and wrong. I've found that the world is chock full of thousands of shades of gray. Another way to look at this is to look for the second right answer. Instead of immediately assuming that something must either be this or that, take the time to see if there are more solutions available to you.
Follow these tips and you'll never become a victim of your own actions. Your ideas will thrive.
About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.