The Signature File that got me Chewed Out
The story in your head always finds expression in your life. But, it’s dangerous when behaviors and attitudes are based on fabrications.
He doesn’t like me.
I’m not appreciated.
They’re out to get me.
She plays favorites.
The story in your head about the behaviors and intentions of others is based on:
- Partial information.
- Assumption – in large doses.
Fabrication begin with words like, “He did that because _______. (Fill in an imagined motivation.)
Tragically, once you tell yourself a story, you believe it.
The signature file:
I attached a DeBono quote to all my emails. “Those who think they know, don’t.” It offended a boss I had many years ago. He thought I put it there for him.
I explained that the quote was attached to all my emails. He listened and chewed me out two more times. He couldn’t let go of a fabricated offense.
Combine my quote with the cocky attitude I had and it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that I thought my boss was incompetent or worse.
Assumptions are unopened windows that foolish birds fly into, and their broken bodies are evidence gathered too late. Bryan Davis
I stopped attaching the DeBono quote to my emails!
- Limit perceptions.
- Invite judgments.
- Establish conclusions.
The story in your head – about others – sets the direction of relationships.
Hold your tongue. Open your heart. Delay conclusions.
- Stay courageously curious.
- Suspend judgement and listen. Listening requires the suspension of judgment.
- State the obvious. The obvious isn’t as obvious as you think.
- Dare to be wrong.
- Reveal intentions. Explain how you’re seeking the highest good of others in concrete terms.
- Tell yourself positive stories until you validate a negative.
- Make agreements with colleagues and co-workers that you’ll assume the best, unless proven otherwise.
How can leaders manage the stories in their heads?
Oh, another imperfect boss;-) I can just imagine he was an all around joy to work for. Glad you decided to be the boss you wish you had 😉
Thanks Karin. Oh those imperfect bosses.. 😉 It might have been better if he had known what a signature file was…
A bad boss is great to work for at least once, you can learn first hand what no to do and how it feels when it done to you
What makes assumptions worse, is that the assuming party always draws resolutions…that they are now so far off reality. I’ve learned that assuming parties never change…they continue this negative practice / behavior. Email can take its fair share of the blame because a message is apt to not be thoroughly understood by assuming parties. I’ve also learned that if one absolutely has to collaborate with an assuming party, it’s best to document everything and gently assist them back on coarse.
Wow! Good one! No wonder you are your own boss now 🙂
I always think back to the idea that compulsive liars assume that everyone else is lying. The snap judgements we make usually reflect who we perceive ourselves to be, and are derived from some insecurity. Now, how to express that without sounding like a counselor may be a challenge.
On a related note, I heard it suggested recently that Fred Phelps (Westboro Church) was a self loathing homosexual. Sad.
Thanks James. I remember the first time it dawned on me that the assumptions I was making said as much about me as anything else. In some cases it explained my naivete. In other cases it revealed my insecurities.
You helped me realize that a useful self-refection tool is reflecting on what I see in others.
RE: “compulsive liars assume that everyone else is lying”…. slightly off-topic but I just finished reading “Lying” by Sam Harris. Apparently, studies show that the person DOING the lying is just as likely to be dissatisfied with the interaction as the person being lied to. Makes sense. Even the perpetrator of the untruth knows there is something inauthentic about the relationship and — on some deep level — feels resentful. I’ve worked with enough compulsive liars to know they have deeply unsatisfying relationships.
Thanks Matthew. My experience indicates that when we treat others unethically we say they don’t matter. It’s hard to enjoy a relationship with someone that doesn’t matter.
Excellent post! What role do you think self-confidence play at the the root of all misunderstandings? I have come to understand that the biggest the ego, the largest the number of insecurities and the easiest to feel offended. A humble attitude and an open heart it is what helps leaders to look (and expect) always for the best in others and improve communication.
How about a post in narcissist behaviour?
Thanks Marie. Your introduction of self-confidence into this conversation is profound. It really helps me understand what’s behind assumptions. When insecurity drives assumptions a wreck is sure to happen.
Re: narcissism post. I’m such an expert on this topic 😉 … I should be able to bang one out. Who knows.
Marie, I would love to ponder post by Dan but i am too busy thinking about myself!! Hehe
EA ps….now thinking of the difference between ego driven misplaced arrogance and genuine enthusiastic belief!!
Great stuff by the way many thanks Marie.
By the way narcissi just loved looking at himself in the reflection in the pond!!
Just love how apparent sissy is in his name!! Lol
I suspect that annoyed many – he was honest enough to say it.
Thanks Billgncs. KaPow!
I work in IT with a UNIX team, and the number of these signatures I see that are borderline offensive are legion. I tell my guys – if you walked up to someone you didn’t know and said those words what would they think of you? I think some think that they will come off as a philospher poet when the message the send is sarcastic or worse.
Sorry about the kapow, but if I saw that on your signature and didn’t know you or have context, I would think – what a knucklehead. Just saying 🙂
Another OUT OF THE PARK POST Dan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now you are rocking the HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Horray rocking the house!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My opinion based on my experience reveals to me………………
I do not know what is going on, I am only operating at BEST 7% of the potential of my brain.
I have also noticed many others are operating with considerably LESS!!!!!! LOL
Plus, with this spiritual malady thingy going on it is amazing I can complete a trip to the toilet on a regular basis!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Next up is with my ego the way it is when I play God, write the script and other do not follow the lines I wrote for them, I get my shorts in a wad!!!!!!!!!
I take it personally, and they would be SO HAPPY if their followed MY WILL!!! Why don’t they GET IT????
Cause this is God’s show, I am a bit player not the Director. As long as I do that I place myself in a position to be in conflict. Others complain and I think the whole scenario is THEM! Not the expectations I set up in my brain!
Next up PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO!!!!!!!!! When my Supreme EGO is tripping me up I do not tell myself that!
I tell myself in error, “they did it TO ME”!!!!!!!!!
No they…..di-unt. They just do what they do if I mentally position myself to think I was their cause that is ME TELLING ME THAT! Uh, MY BAD!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL
In reality I was most likely NOT taking into consideration when they decided to do what they did.
They did what they did most likely based on not losing what they value or feeling they won’t get what they value. That is why they did what they did. I try to make it about me, NOT THEM!!!!! hehe MY BAD!!!!!
Most stuff with others, just ain’t all about me, even though my ego consistently says this is so!!!!
Leaders, people can get their stories straight by getting their own house in order!
Quiet the mind, be still, then you hear the peace that passes all understanding!
Figure out the Spiritual malady! You are a perfect creation of a unconditional loving God. He made you just like he/her wanted. Only one copy of you ever made, you are that rare!
All of God’s other kids are that rare too! All of us are an eachness in the allness of God!
And the trilogy of turning that spiritual malady is…..God is ON IT, and everything is going to be alright!
last, I am most effective when I try to see what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes, not what others need to do to make me HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!! Goodness that is not their job!!!!!
Just make my focus serving others and let the chips fall where they may.
Keep shoveling cause there is a pony in here someplace and I will persisit until I succeed till I find that wonderful pony!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Listen to the tones…..often…..theta, alpha, delta and the other one that escapes me right now!
Soothes the beastly ego!!!!!! Really look those tones up on Youtube and LISTEN!! Or don’t!!!!
yeah that is the ticket!
Ok me, off to generate an epic amount of oxytocin today!!!!!
I am smart enough, good enough, and dog gone it…..people like me!!!!!!!!!!! Borrowed from Stuart and thank you Stuart!!!!!
Thanks Scott. The “to me” insight really gets traction. So often, I’m putting myself at the center and interpreting everything from that perspective. OUCH
Yes Dan and it hit some other person right there too!!!
Did ya see the thumbs down with no identification!!!
That person really got the point!!!!!!
Just think when they take the focus off me disturbing them and on themselves how much better off they will be!!!
Horray Better off after not blaming ME!!!
Lol round and round we go!!! Wheeeee!!!
sorry for the typos but running late!! hehe
Great perspective. A good level of feeling good in your own skin while continuing to be open to improvement . . . this is the healthy balance I seek! Thank you for sharing.
Apologies . . . replied to the wrong post. Meant for Mark’s post below.
LOL, Dan. You know that old saying concerning if the shoe fits…
I’ve asked my clients: “If there is no part of you the buys into an insult, can anyone insult you?”
The answer is no.
Many of us have unfilled little soft spots of unworthiness of a certain shape, and the ego’s tendency is to fill them with a behavior or judgements that match up. That’s good news, because right there are clues to what we may need to heal for ourselves.
The fact of the matter is, when we are feeling really worthy, we are less judgmental. We can afford to be. We’re emotionally wealthy. We can give the twin gifts of appreciation for diversity, and making space for others to unfold.
When I find my self going into judgmental mode, I don’t like to fight it. I don’t like to self-criticize. I like to follow that back to where there is something going on with me that maybe I’ve ignored—something holding me back from the level of wellbeing where an open heart and making more space comes naturally. 🙂
BTW, I, too was once in that place where I was putting pithy quotes in my signature… it might be different from your experience, but mine was another signal to myself. Whether others might take offense or not, to put the quote there in the first place, there was something going on with me. 😉
Thanks Mark. The whole “worthyiness” thing is so powerful. Thanks for adding it.
Regarding the quote and it’s connection to me. Absolutely! It shouldn’t surprise me that someone took offense. The fact that I can’t stand know-it-alls has some pretty sobering implications.
BTW… your profile pic is awesome.
Ha, Dan! With sincere appreciation, I thought you might respond as such. 🙂
Great perspective. A good level of feeling good in your own skin while continuing to be open to improvement . . . this is the healthy balance I seek! Thank you for sharing. (And, also, replying to the correct post : / )
Thank you, Dianna! I like how you put it: ” …the healthy balance I seek.” You know, it is a constant practice thing. In my experience, I am always seeking, and though I make progress at managing my responses to challenge and contrast, and getting back to center ever quicker, I am best served by accepting I am never done, and will always seek both challenge/contrast, and balance… again… and again. 😉
Hanging out with positive people helps me change the negative stories running through my own head. People who see the best in me help me see the best in others.
But I have learned that it is true that when you stick your neck and head out away from the crowd, people are going to take a swing at it. Somehow it makes too many people uncomfortable. You’ll need to know who you are and be clear on your motivation, because someone with their own insecurities is going to question it.
Thanks Dauna. Love the two sides of this coin you bring to the conversation. I’m always ranting against pie-in-the-sky thinking.
Perhaps it helps when I realize that the people around me have insecurities like I do.
Great post. This is will be a big help for everyone.
Great subject and an important one.
I can’t stress this enough. Many people don’t have an actual relationship with another person; be it there spouse, child, friend, boss, or co-worker. Many people have a relationship based on the assumptions in their HEAD. And those assumptions have very little if NOTHING at all to do with the other person.
In fact, assumptions can be so bad, the other person doesn’t even need to be there! And those assumptions will have turned the other person into a villain (or sometimes even a hero) when they haven’t done or said anything to ‘you’ personally at all!
The result of those assumptions? You (the person making the assumptions) start to treat the other person AS IF they actually did something wrong. We’ve already passed judgment on someone who doesn’t even have any IDEA you made the assumptions you did about them.
So they get treated like crap or get the cold shoulder or get gossiped about.
Because people don’t bother to question the ‘reality’ of their own assumptions and automatically lump them into FACTS without even checking.
It happens ALL OF THE TIME.
Great post and an important reminder.
Don’t treat people poorly just because YOU (the assuming person) CHOSE to think BADLY of someone else.
Old Sufi Tale: When a pickpocket sees a saint. All’s he/she can see are the pockets.
I shared that same thing a couple years back on one of your posts. It means the same thing and in the same context today. The ‘thief/liar/insert character issue here’ tends to judge other people based on the nature of their own character.
It has nothing to do with the other person at all.
Ha, Samantha… yes… both the BEST and WORST relationships are an indicator of our relationship with Self (caps intended).
HI there Mark! Too funny! When I initially opened this post there were only 2 comments. Didn’t see yours until after I published mine and the page refreshed! haha
Based on your comment, it reminded me of my favorite by Nathaniel Branden.
‘Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our experience.’
For me, that quote has been scary AND liberating all at the same time.
Hi Sam, love the Branden quote. Love it! Thanks for posting… 🙂 I think I will put in on both my personal and business FB pages today.
Glad you like it Mark. For book reference, the quote is the first sentence in the introduction of his book, Honoring the Self. The book paid for itself before I even made it to chapter one! : )
Minor correction on that quote Scott. Just caught it. Change the word experience at the end to EXISTENCE!
No clue why that happens when I type sometimes. I suppose brain is in overdrive at times and there’s a momentary lapse of reason between brain and fingers. Something! haha
So quote should read:
‘Of all judgements we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our EXISTENCE.’
Minor error but makes a HUGE difference. Existence is much different then ‘experience’.
Pardon me! MARK! Not Scott! The comment is for YOU Mark! haha
I had just read the reply Scott sent to me so there I go again. Brain one step ahead of my fingers!
Thanks Samantha. I always enjoy your perspective and passion. One sentence really jumped of the page.
“… the other person doesn’t even need to be there.” Heck, in my world, it helps if they aren’t!
I actually laughed out loud when I read that same sentence…
Again, these comments are happening faster then I can refresh my page! lol HOT TOPIC apparently! (grins)
I don’t know Scott! : )
I just read your comment and yes, you basically did say the same thing.
Perhaps it was the WAY you said it? Or typed it? Tone of voice? etc.
Important reminder for us all when we are limited to text. The reader really has NO CLUE as to the tone of our voice, our intentions, our ‘normal’ nature if we are pleasantly sarcastic or lean towards ‘comedy’ etc etc.
So part of our ‘assumptions’ issues on the internet is also based on HOW we interpret what is being typed/written/said by one another.
And then there is simply the matter of different strokes for different folks! Not everyone on the planet is going to like you or me or Dan or anyone here no matter how wonderful, kind, or awesome we are.
I suppose for any of us the biggest challenge of all is to remain true to ourselves while ALSO making the adjustments we need to make to get along with others. So sometimes we DO need to adjust our tone and our delivery based on the feedback we receive from others.
It certainly helps though when we have people honest enough to bother telling us in the first place and actually CARE. They won’t say it just to hurt us, etc
Anyway, thanks for the note Scott! Have a peachy day and carry on. : )
Samantha how come I basically said the same as you and I get a thumbs down and you two thumbs up?????
Oh the Humanity!!!!
Anyways deeply appreciate your insight.
Tremendous response Samantha!!
Women have so much more wisdom than us hairy fellas!!!
I really do not mind the thumbs down, I would just prefer the feedback you mentioned.
You are younger and prettier than me Samantha.
Awhile back I adjusted from more of a people pleasing stance to one of being a magnet for those who believe what I believe and as repulsive to others as humanly possible!!!
It just saves time, see Samantha, you and I sat down for tea and crumpets it would be amazing!!!! Both of us sharing all the cool stuff we know with each other.
The kind of people who give thumbs down with no feedback, it would be like talking to a wall. Terrible for both of us.
Now that could be taken like I am attacking whoever that is but I am really not.
I am just saying different do not really need to mix. They are better off mixing with like minded people is all.
See that is not really making folks with a different set of core beliefs bad, just different.
Anyways I would Love to know the issue the thumbs downers have, maybe I could help.
Thing is folks like that don’t see any value in expressing their discomfort, they just like expressing it!!
In any case thank you for your thoughtful, insightful musings and your pretty blue eyes!
Take care!! More oxy, less cortisol, carry on!!
You actually raise an interesting point Scott. WordPress gives the blog authors the option to rate the comments yet I don’t ‘think’ it gives the option to reveal who does the rating or requires rater to give direct feedback.
In a way, I think it WOULD be helpful to eliminate anonymous ratings and make people have to identify themselves when rating. Then if there is a problem, at least the person being rated has the option to inquire and ask for feedback. That doesn’t mean they have to accept it or even agree with it, however it would be a great option to have.
Regardless, for people with people pleasing tendencies, it may ALWAYS be a big of a challenge to overcome the idea that someone out there doesn’t like you. (generalizing here) It really does take conscious effort and work to QUIT giving other people so much power over our own worth and identities. Try not to judge it or ‘shame’ on it …. just the awareness that it’s a weak spot can be enough to help ‘recover’ when there’s anonymous negative feedback.
And hey…that’s another point. Let’s not give power to ANONYMOUS people at all.
Just an idea.
I agree with you Samantha, ”not everyone is going to like you,” reminds me when I started doing my public speaking sessions, I was laughed at, and told my speech was a crap, had I listened to them, I would be nothing today!!
Reminded me of a favorite quote of mine “we judge others by their actions and ourself by our intent”. I remind myself of this as i work to humanize others instead of demonizing them! great topic!
Thanks Doug. Love the quote. It doesn’t hurt that’s its true! 🙂 Great contrast… humanize vs demonize.
Managers, like other employees, are not stupid. Some know they are effective managers, some know they are not effective managers, and the others are oblivious. The oblivious never see themselves as ineffective so they don’t take offense when they read/hear comments applicable to them, see Dilbert comic strip. The effective managers are self aware and do not take offense when they read/hear comments that do not apply to them. The problem arises with ineffective managers who are loathe to be seen as ineffective.
Thanks Bob. Love your three categories and the danger of “oblivious” managers. Man! it’s so true. Those who are oblivious don’t even care.
Then you have the fearful fakers. They just drag everyone down.
And the irony . . . the quote you used in your signature line was exactly on target for your boss!
Thanks Dianna. Too funny… and it is appropriate for me too. 🙂
Good morning Dan
I’m not cerain if this is a good or a bad thing, but I do believe you n I are a lot alike. I see many simularities in todays blog and my life. Many claim to have an open door policy where honest truth and candor can be shared. However, many, including myself at times, are not interested in being critiqued. Critsisms that are shared humbly with the intent of building up another or restoring them in some form should be welcomed. Especially when given by a trusted confidant who has our best interest at heart. Often though, even under the best of circumstances, when we feel we’re being critizedlistening to understand comes to an abrupt halt and when begin to listen ONLY TO REPLY. Once we take this defensive posture there is absolutley no chance at true self-examination. Noe of us are perfect, nor are there any who are always rite. The path to improvement often requires taking a tough look at ourselves and asking, ” how could I have done this, said this better, was the best interest of all the goal of my vision or intent”. You have to put yourself in the shoes of another to truly gain THEIR perception of our intentions, NOT our perception. When we show no concideration to others feelings and perseptions, even well intentioned plans can fall apart and create division that can last a lifetime. I have done as you have mentioned Dan including quotes or ‘witty statements’ to my quotes or comments. Until the day I received such an e-mail from a friend and assosiate. He had my best interest at heart, I kow he did, yet I was initially a bit offended as I percieved he was being overly judgmental while he actually was trying to be complimentry. We humans are strange and fragile creatures. To ignore this fact puts us at a disadvantage as it is very easy to trample on anothers pride and emotions. Sometimes we only get one chance to make a connection with others. Don’t blow it with inconsiderate thoughts, actions, or words. At the end of lifes journey, none of us wants to turn around to find we’ve left nothing but enimies in our wake!
Since we’re “meaning-making machines” (Viktor Frankl), when I tell myself a story about others or even myself, I have the option to make the story as positive as possible. Besides, who am I to know what is going on inside someone’s head or heart. My best chance is to deal authentically with observable behaviors, and engage in honest, caring conversation regarding the behaviors, their outcomes, and how I feel about them based on my needs, values, and goals.
Well said Paul. SEMPER-FI
This is a post I shall be keeping – along with all the pearls of wisdom in the comments.
Isn’t is an exciting time we live in where these new emerging mindsets have come into the mainstream – in awareness if not yet in practice?
I’ve been one of the very lucky blessed one to have had enough personal growth opportunities (ones where the Universe kicked me in the padoopee to get my attention!) to have finally become aware and change my thoughts and behaviour.
And boy, is it ever freeing!!! 🙂
Deep gratitude to you and the others who commented with such wonderful contributions of the heart!
I’ve struggled with this all my life as a daughter, spouse, employee and manager. This is so applicable to all relationships. It’s a hard thing to change. I’ve been aware of this in myself for so long but still struggle to change. Awareness is the first step, right? I generally am aware but often that comes after I’ve jumped to a negative conclusion and have caused damage. I apologize as soon as I realize but yet still fail to change. The after-the-fact apologies are viewed as hollow by others who don’t know me well on a personally level, especially my employees. Is this just a character flaw that I can’t change?
I like your story of the signature. And, this is a good post indeed!
I historically go negative very easily. It hasn’t always been this way, and I often wonder how I got this way. The answer: years of practise!
The good news is that I am well aware of my propensity to go negative, and I take positive steps – daily – to combat this terrible habit.
1. I pray for wisdom whenever I get angry at someone’s words or driving or looks or other perceived slight
2. I begin my day with prayer and meditation, asking that God dwell in my heart, and that all my thought, words and deeds be pleasing to Him.
3. I pray for the people whom I judge when they do something I perceive as wrong or offensive
If someone reading this is not a person who prays or isn’t sure about the whole God thing, the above still works. Begin your day with positive meditation. Run a positive phrase through you mind whenever someone does something you perceive as wrong or insulting. Run a positive phrase about that person personally when they do something that offends you.
My hope is that in so doing, you will eventually involve God in those conversations, but, in the interim, maybe we can all avoid unnecessary conflict and anger just by taking a moment to have a brief, positive talk with ourselves (or God) about that person who get under our skin, or who just cut me off, or who…
Thanks for this one Dan. One of my biggest issues is #4. I sometimes have 80% confidence about a situation or solution, but because it’s not 90% or 100% I’ll let someone who seems more sure of the solution take over, only to later find out they were also unsure and I may have had a better knowledge base. It’s important to allow ourselves to be wrong, but still try, rather than not step forward. I’m working on this and I thank you for reminding me. Happy Monday!
Keeping it simple goes well with stating the obvious.
That’s the reason why I decided not to have a boss, because my boss in his mind, there was no one smart like him. He never admitted he was wrong in everything that he was doing, I remember one day in the 5 years I worked for him when he had no choice but admit he was wrong , he said ”for the first time I’m wrong,” when in turn he was always wrong on most occasions! I chose to become a boss who not only is a boss, but a leader, a leader admits his failures and accepts correction that way he becomes more wiser and knows more.