When we first moved to remote working over a year ago, video conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx seemed like the perfect solution to all our communication issues. At the start of the pandemic, we even used them extensively after working hours. Remember Zoom quiz nights in lockdown number one? After a year of COVID lockdowns, our excitement about these virtual meet ups with friends and family has dropped. We might even experience a slight sense of dread just reading about yet another Zoom call.
Every day, we are faced with different challenges in the workplace, perhaps a difficult meeting, or a taxing task that we have tried to put off for as long as possible. As we outlined in last week’s article on Energy Management Habit 1: Managing Your Mindset, this is heightened by the ongoing pandemic and our unconscious’ preoccupation with the threat that COVID-19 poses to our physical wellbeing. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are continuously released into our blood stream, triggering an amygdala hijack (the body’s fight-or-flight response). From an evolutionary standpoint, our amygdala has thus evolved into our internal alarm system.
Humans are creatures of habit. It’s been over a year since COVID-19 became an all-encompassing threat to our health and wellbeing, and working online has become our new normal. Where we were alert and careful at the beginning of the pandemic, we now view the virus as part of everyday life—a dangerous development, which Bloomberg identifies as the new “COVID Challenge” that we face. The virus might not constantly be at the forefront of our minds. Our bodies and our unconscious, however, are in a state of continued alarm.
Momentum for action on racial equity has continued to build around the world, and we like many others have spent the past few weeks in an ongoing discussion on what else we can do to help contribute to positive change. It remains remarkably difficult for organizations to have uncomfortable conversations about racial bias, so as a first step we’re spreading awareness of how cognitive diversity can be used as a powerful device to break down the walls in these conversations.
For many, the word “diversity” brings up images of staid EEOC training or well-intended but not necessarily critical programs—the “have-to-dos” that don’t get much buy-in or enthusiastic support across the business. So it’s probably not the first word that comes to mind when you’re talking about innovation.
But here’s why it should be.
Want to know what your personality is? Or find out your “inner truth”? How about which “Game of Thrones” character you are? There are plenty of employee assessments and online quizzes out there that will reveal what box, character, style or type you fall into—the answer to the question: Am I a “this” or am I a “that”?
But when it comes to the HBDI®, we talk in terms of thinking preferences. No one is strictly a “this” or a “that,” because everyone has access to their whole brain, regardless of what your preferences are. You simply prefer (and in some cases, actively avoid) certain kinds of thinking over others.
So, what exactly do we mean by thinking preference? Well, it might be easier to start by explaining what a preference is not.
The other day, a friend shared with me this nightly after-dinner routine at her house: She and her husband clear the table. She loads the dishwasher. She leaves the kitchen. He stays behind and rearranges all the dishes in the dishwasher.
“He always complains about how I load it,” she told me. “He says I don’t use the space efficiently enough. So we just have to run it more often! I’d rather do that than spend all day trying to organize every dish in there just so.”
I’m not going to weigh in on who’s loading the dishwasher correctly, but I do get where he’s coming from. There’s nothing more annoying than watching someone tackle a task when you know there’s a better way. No matter what you say or do, they won’t listen to reason, even though your way is the more precise way. Or the more efficient way...or thoughtful...or creative...
You know, the right way.
Sometimes, it feels like we spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of each other and the world around us. Whether we’re navigating the dishwasher protocols of our significant others, delegating a task to a direct report at work, or trying to find our way to the solution to a nagging business challenge, one thing is clear: Other people don’t always do things the way we would do them. And that can be pretty irritating.
The question is, why do people approach tasks, problems, decisions, ideas, and, yes, even the dishwasher, in completely different ways? Why do we all take different routes to the same destination?
No one listens! It’s one of the most common complaints across workplaces, industries, jobs, even in our personal lives. It doesn’t matter how much detail we give or how many times we say things, it seems like people keep coming back with questions about things we’ve already addressed.
So, how can you improve communications and resolve this annoying problem? One piece of advice you’ve likely heard is to over-communicate if you really want people to listen to you. Explain it again and again. Keep hammering away at it until you break through.
Have you tried that? Had any luck with it?
My guess is they’re still not listening to you.
In studies of global business leaders and CEOs, “creativity” routinely shows up as one of the top qualities for effective leaders. But you don’t even have to read the studies to know that people value creativity in business. We talk about emulating the Steve Jobs’s of the world, the new technology innovators, those who come up with clever solutions or new products that transform entire markets and industries. In fact, CEOs have been making speeches proclaiming a “fresh commitment to creativity” and urging an entrepreneurial approach to business for decades.
So why are the results so consistently disappointing? What’s holding back creativity in business?
Are we just not that creative?
Teams have never been more important in business. But with the demands and complexities of today’s work environment—not to mention the challenges of working with global, remote or regularly changing team members—working in a team isn’t always easy.
A great team is a “brain trust” of diverse thinkers, one that’s greater than the sum of its parts. They’re collaborators you can count on to bring new perspectives to the table, listen to and value your ideas, and stay accountable to common goals, especially when the pressure heats up.