Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Being able to respond

Posted: July 25, 2014 in People
Tags: ,

Being a consultant and a father I often get to meet new people. Either at my various projects or the kids and parents I meet in my capacity as a father. Between all those people it’s interesting to see how some can use one word with out fear and others practically will never use the same word.

When trying to build a project culture or when raising kids I value peoples ability to respond to a certain situation. E.g. If there’s a problem with a production system, are my project peers capable of handling the situation in a constructive manner. E.g. does it matter to the individual who’s to blame or do they respond to the situation at hand?

Numerous studies have shown that the ability to respond, is one of the corner stones in having a successful carrier as well as an enjoyable life. People, that are afraid of taking action for whatever reason, will usually make excuses for doing so and often those excuses will be in the form of explanations of why they are not required to or incapable of taking actions or they will simply blame someone else for the problem and the blame might even be valid. That however doesn’t change the result of making excuses.
People who don’t make excuses but take action, are also take control and are thereby empowering themselves. By acting and being in control they make it possible to feel the sense of accomplishment and with that comes higher self-esteem whereas with excuses for being incapable of acting comes lower self-esteem.

Not surprisingly the people with high self-esteem turns to the empowering actions but the odd factor is that quite often the people with low self-esteem out of fear for being at fault decides on inaction.
Having low self-esteem they certainly do not wish to be the one to blame. Then better to explain and take the sting out of the blame or simply blame someone else. Both are essentially simple defense mechanisms. It’s a defense against being blamed and as such do not solve the real issue of feeling inferior/having low self-esteem. On the contrary they add to the issue. The gain of excuses are short term. Excuses relieves the pain right here right now but ignores the long term consequences of asserting one’s inferiority.

We try to raise our kids to take action instead of blaming. E.g. if they’ve had a fight with each other we are more likely to ask each of them “What could you have done differently to avoid this situation” or “How can you fix it?” than “Who’s at fault”.

Not only are we trying to help the kids avoid similar situations, we’re also showing them that they are in control of what happens to them and how they feel. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Giving excuses or explanations is also giving consent. You are unconsciously saying “My inferiority makes me unable to respond constructively to the situation at hand” and when someone else responds to the situation that assertion is verified.

Meeting all sorts of different cultures I often find that it all boils down to a cultural skewing of the meaning of “responsibility”. Those that make excuses are often interpreting “I’m responsible” as “I’m to blame
The persons who time and time again demonstrate their ability to respond, seldom equate responsibility with being at fault and why would they, the word literally means response-ability.