4 minutes reading time (803 words)

How's Your Thinking?

Have you ever had the experience where you've been working or otherwise interacting with someone and they've responded to something that's happened in a way that is surprising to you? Perhaps their reaction has been so different to what you anticipated that you've asked yourself what planet they've come from!

I've seen this a lot over my career, with staff meetings and the like being fertile ground.

Picture the scenario: You're working in a small team of sales reps reporting to the business owner. The business owner calls everyone together and, surprising everyone, announces that a new role of Sales Manager is to be created and recruited for – the role will be advertised externally , though the business owner says "you are also welcome to apply if you want". There are a few questions about the role and the pending recruitment process, after which you all head back to your workstations.

Over the next couple of hours, there's a lot of chatter. John seems to thinks it's great, and says that he's looking forward to throwing his "hat into the ring".Jane seems a bit anxious about it all and is asking lots of questions – "Does this mean that one of our roles will go?" "Who will they give the job to, they better get someone that knows the industry, otherwise it will be a disaster, remember that last bloke!?!".As is often the case, Sally doesn't say a lot, she's just looking thoughtful and listens carefully to what others are saying. Geoff is also keeping his cards pretty close to his chest, but you can see that he looks frustrated and perhaps even a bit angry -Geoff's been here the longest and has a pretty good sales record, so you figure that he might be frustrated that that he has not just been promoted into the role. On the other hand, Darryl doesn't appear at all interested in the news – he's just gone back to his desk and is making some calls.Personally, you're a bit excited about the opportunity – you're the newest member of the team but have had a similar role in the past, so tell yourself that you "might as well give it a go. The extra money would certainly be helpful!"

We can see in this scenario that, while each member of the team has been exposed to the same news, they have responded quite differently – from positivity and enthusiasm, through to anxiety, thoughtfulness, indifference and frustration/anger.

The following formula can be helpful in terms of helping us understand what's going on:

S + T = R


S is for STIMULUS – an event you experience, something you hear, see, taste, feel etc…

T is for THINKING – how you perceive or think about the stimulus/what's happened

R is for RESPONSE – what you do in response to the event/stimulus

Revisiting our scenario, our team members were all exposed to the same stimulus, yet their thinking in respect of that stimulus differed somewhat. It's reasonable to presume that their individual responses will also vary. John may well start working on his application when he gets home, as might you after giving it a bit more thought and chatting with your family. Jane may well come back tomorrow and ask the business owner a few questions in an effort to ease her concerns. Sally intends to just wait and see how it all pans out. Geoff's already headed off to ask the manager why the hell he hasn't just been appointed to the role given that he's been here the longest and has a proven track record. Darryl's just getting on with things, as if nothing's happened.

Our responses in turn can drive certain OUTCOMES. These outcomes can be constructive and helpful, neutral, or unconstructive and unhelpful (in respect of us achieving our goals, being personally effective and/or maintaining interpersonal relationships, for example). In our scenario, John's positivity may well help him to put his best foot forward in terms of applying for the role, whereas Geoff, if he's not careful, may well damage his relationship with the business owner which in turn might damage his prospects.

The bottom line is that how we THINK about things directly impacts our RESPONSE and subsequent OUTCOMES.

So take a moment to consider:

• How healthy/constructive is your thinking at the moment?

• Is your current way of thinking helping or hindering you, personally and professionally?

• What personal and professional experiences might have played a role in determining your primary ways of thinking?

• What impact is your thinking having? On yourself, your team, the broader organisation/business, your family?

• Do you need to change elements of your thinking in order to achieve better results?

If you're keen to explore this further, give Greg a call to discuss opportunities to better understand your predominant thinking styles, enhance your constructive thinking and improve your outcomes.

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