As you may have read in yesterday’s post on choice points, each comment or expression we make influences the options of people with whom we’re communicating. If we say, “How are you?” to someone and keep walking, she knows that we really don’t want an answer. The question is merely a greeting. If, however, we say the same thing and stop to look at the person, she then knows an answer is being invited. In this way we limit or expand the options of other people. They do the same to us.
It’s important to know what messages you’re conveying. I meet women who take on too many tasks whether at work or at home. They expect people will appreciate their efforts and sometimes they do. But, being always available to do what most other people won’t sends unintended messages too. It may say that your time isn’t valuable. And, it tells people that if they have an undesirable task to be done, they can ask you to do it and you will.
To avoid abdicating your 75% responsibility you have to begin to look at how what you say and do is being received — not merely what you intended to convey. The two are often very different.
I was talking recently with a woman who is excellent at her job. She doesn’t understand why her colleagues aren’t more appreciative and, at times, are even the opposite. I listened for a while and then asked her, “Do you ask them for their opinions?” She looked puzzled. “Do you occasionally give them a chance to have input and to feel good about what they might contribute?”
I asked her this because being good at what you do is important, but giving other people a chance to feel good about what they do is as well. Otherwise they begin to resent you. This happens to people who are perfectionists. They just don’t stop to think that the admiration they expect is not being delivered because they are making other people feel inadequate or not giving someone else a chance to shine.
To use your 75% responsibility wisely, you have to take a look at the messages you might be sending that aren’t doing you any good. And start to change them. Maybe next time you won’t be so available or you won’t take too much or too little credit. Slight changes like this can make a big difference.