When you pass judgment and brand other people, consider how this affects your personal brand, reputation and how you are known.
Stop Branding Your People – Part 3 (Excerpt from Keith’s upcoming book, Coachquest.)
Here’s a quick recap from Part 2 in the series. The judgments you make of others, often based on past experiences, brands them a certain way, making them a certain type of individual through your eyes and as such, you react towards them based on those beliefs and assumptions (lazy, incompetent, difficult to talk with, confrontational, etc.), preventing you from resetting that relationship through a conversation and creating any new possibility.
Time for Self-Reflection
But here’s the additional cost to you. When you brand others, you have also succeeded in branding yourself. Think about the manager you’re going to be known as. The one who can’t connect and communicate with other people, and those on your team, that if you could with greater success by changing your approach, would truly change the outcome, and make you a transformational leader. Instead, you have actually branded yourself as a mediocre leader who is bound by the limitations of their own thinking.
Now, if this is true, then similar to how you may speak about certain people, what do you think people are then saying about you?
Managers tell me how much they love working through challenges. However, as soon as you brand someone a certain way because of your experiences, beliefs, or what you’ve heard, history is bound to repeat itself. As such, you continually react to this branded person the way you have done so in the past because of the assumptions and judgments you’ve made about them and the underlying belief that nothing can be done to change them or create a new and better outcome. And the past ultimately becomes the future.
As you can see by the 22 examples I’ve shared regarding how managers brand people, this branding process is not limited to the people you manage. This transcends beyond your team and impacts your customers, peers, cross functional teams and especially your boss, senior leadership and, get this; even your company and the culture you may find yourself working within.
“Well, it happened twice which means it happens all the time.”
Managers fall into this trap over and over again. Think about the additional implication and consequence if you continue to hold on to this belief. Stagnation, redundancy, lost upselling, cross- selling and referral opportunities, along with opportunities to rebuild the important relationships in your life. It goes without saying you’ve also lost the trust needed as a foundation to achieve these things.
If you’re operating from this line of thinking, then what are you modeling for your team? Chances are, your direct reports, co-workers, customers, prospects and salespeople are doing this type of damaging branding as well.
Acceptance Before Judgment
If you want to create breakthroughs with those individuals who you perceive with great confidence that they are the ones you don’t want to engage regardless of reason, who do you think needs to change first? Yes, the law of reciprocity starts with you. And that requires a change in your mindset, your approach, and more specifically, your dialogue in terms of how you approach and communicate with these people you have branded in a new and more effective way. Because when you change the conversation, you change the outcome.
For those people you deem uncoachable, non-performers, poor communicators, useless or difficult to deal with, is it possible that we haven’t fully and authentically honored and respected their point of view before branding them?
Can you look in the mirror and honestly say you’ve tried something new and different, a new message or how you approach that person which is outside the realm of what you’ve historically tried or practiced? What if these are the people who, if you change how you engage with them, start fresh and have them commit to a new start as well, are the ones who create the greatest breakthroughs?
When you turn your conversation around, only then can you look in the mirror and say you’ve tried your best.
You Haven’t Tried “Everything”
Do you immediately pass judgment and react from prior experiences or worse, treat people based on what we’ve heard from others that we then believe to be true?
Said a different way, the solution here is to accept them before you judge them. And acceptance or respecting someone’s point of view doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. However, it allows both parties to create a baseline of understanding and mutual respect that from here, can evolve into a productive and negotiable conversation instead of what could turn into another stressful confrontation.
Besides, while we all come to every conversation with our agenda in mind or what we want to happen as a result of the conversation, we often forget that, even though each person may be doing the same thing, if you were to put aside your own goals, Key Performance Indicators and business objectives, we ultimately all share the same common goal.
That is, to be the best we can be and deliver the most value to our customers, while reminding ourselves that our internal customers, each other, our teams, are just as important, if not more important, than our external customers we seek to serve.
Photo Credit: Mahony