Natural Tendencies: Exposed

Lane (Pearce) Pierce, daughter of Deborah Pearce, is a learning and development professional at Kohl's Department Stores.

In our last post we posed a question about responsibility versus accountability.  I’ve been thinking about the difference as I’ve experienced my day to day over the last few weeks.  One moment in particular stands out.  It was an unusually “rough” meeting – High stakes, fast timeline, differing opinions.  One member was outwardly dramatic with her nonverbals.  She clearly was not on board, and when others would speak, she would say “OK,” but roll her eyes.  I recall many audible sighs.  Her last word… “Fine.” 

We needed her support, so finally someone spoke up and said, “but are you really fine?”  The question she had been waiting for, she finally shared what she was thinking, albeit direct, harsh, accusatory and emotional.  We at least knew where she stood. 

At the end of the meeting, she jokingly apologized for her behavior saying, “You guys know I can’t help it.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  And, I’m really passionate about this.  I am who I am.“  Someone joked back, “You sure are!”

While I was relieved that the tension had been broken, I couldn’t help but leave that meeting wondering…Is that OK?  Is the disclaimer, “I am who I am” a fair excuse for poor behavior?  Is that being accountable to your colleagues?

I feel that one of the biggest challenges we have in the workplace is walking the line between our natural tendencies and what’s more effective.  I’m not suggesting that we become inauthentic.  I’m suggesting that we become better.

They often say that what bothers you most about someone else is actually something that you tend to do yourself.  I, too, am aware that my nonverbals can occasionally display a very clear message: “I am not pleased.”  My colleagues, friends and husband call it my “Face” and tell me it’s a cross between “This is the stupidest idea ever” and “Seriously….?”

While I’ve got a long way to go, I feel better knowing that I’m much more aware when I feel “The Face” coming on.  I’ve learned how to put it away.  Usually.  I don’t feel like I’m trying to hide my real feelings, or my true self.  I make sure to be honest in a way that is respectful – To be even better than what might come naturally.

What is a natural tendency that you’ve “improved”?

This entry was posted in Case Studies, Interpersonal Communication, Nonverbal Behavior. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Natural Tendencies: Exposed

  1. Yes! I am resonating with this topic. In my younger days I was guilty of “Well, that’s just the way I am!” A little variation on “I am who I am!” Then one day someone pulled me aside and said, “The way you are isn’t helping much right now. We need something else from you!” Message received.

  2. Larry Spilker says:

    This one really struck home with me, which by the way 90% of the issues brought up do. I have long used the you get what you see/hear and I am who I am. Guess it is time to work on who I am. Thanks for the lead.

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