I am a commuter. An inner-city commuter. Ooh, that sounds dangerous! Hey, some days it is and if you ride public transit in your city you will likely agree. Some days I feel like a ping pong ball and others I feel like I am being lead to slaughter. What an image.
It’s April and it’s still cold.
Spring is on its way but the warm weather is just taking its sweet time. It’s a little late in the day and I am standing on my corner (Stop it. I’m not like THAT) in the downtown core along with the crowd waiting for my ride. A streetcar approaches. It’s packed. Groans. Comments. Shuffling feet. “There’s another one coming less than 5 minutes behind us.” Is what we hear from the driver as she closes the doors and moves on.
People are visibly annoyed or so it seems. I know I am. We wait. In the cold.
As I boarded the car I chuckled to myself as I notice people grumbling at the driver as they get on. The guy must hear complaints a lot, I think to myself. He doesn’t look like he particularly cares. Why? Who knows? I didn’t ask him and for all I know he’s fine. That might just be his look. Hey, I think, I can’t really blame anyone for my annoyance especially the guy driving the streetcar. He’s just driving that car, reacting to traffic, the rules of the road and taking responsibility to maintain a safe vehicle for his customers. He’s doing what we all do; his job.
That’s the thing though.
I didn’t ask him how he felt and I just made an assumption and moved on. It left me wondering about when and how we take responsibility for our own actions. We all make passing judgements about situations and people every day and because we are human we don’t always stop and actually take responsibility to find out the full story. Yes, there it is; responsibility. What keeps us from doing that? Ask yourself.
Is it time?
We are all very busy and we are all affected by outside influence in our lives.
That streetcar, a late proposal request, your sister can’t babysit after all, a client is upset because a deliverable didn’t quite hit the mark, a consultant missed your deadline or a variety of other external influences. Just like the assumption I made about the streetcar driver one option is to say and do nothing. Just move on or figure it out or do your job. Get through it. Get it done. Hey, you could be perfectly fine with the outcome and in some circumstances that could be ok for you.
But, let me ask you this?
If you don’t know the full story how will you be able to respond intelligently and offer a solution, act on a request or complete a task knowing that you have understood the situation correctly? I find it exceedingly difficult to form an intelligent response without understanding the root cause of a problem. I am sure you agree. There are definitely times and situations where we decide to use our other so called talents; intuition, an educated guess or if all else fails an assumption to find the solution to a problem. But like the nature of those options they rarely work out the way you want them to or if they do work out its probably blind luck.
What’s stopping you from taking the time to really dig into the issue? Why can’t you stop and ask that burning question? Life is busy, you have deadlines and your time is your time but if you look at it in this way it might change your perspective; if you don’t ask you will NEVER know. How will you ever be able to find the RIGHT solution if you don’t discuss or discover the issue with the situation or person that causes it?
Why not take the time to dig into the problem and really understand it?
Do it as often as you can.
Why? Because judgement calls are just that; judgement and if you are anything like me my judgement isn’t always right. In fact, it’s less right than it’s wrong. So, as many times as I can I try to take the time to listen to the issue and really understand it. I stop what I am doing, make some eye contact and pay attention. Try it out yourself. It REALLY works.
- Your clients will thank you because you listened.
- Your friends and family will thank you because they see you actually care.
- Your colleagues will thank you because you gave them the time they needed.
The streetcar driver will thank you because unlike the 500,000 other inner city commuters you actually took a minutes out of your ride to talk to him even if you just say hello and thank you. It’s more than I did this time but you can bet that’s the last time I let that one go.
Whose fault is that? Click here to see whose fault it is……thanks to Jimmy, Robert, John & Bonzo. This sums it all up for me.
- What do you do to build engagement?
- How do you avoid making judgement calls?
- Do you see the value in digging deep into a problem?