Board prez: We can only grow as a team

Chamber board president

“Wanna talk about ‘ME,’

Wanna talk about ‘I’ Wanna talk about ‘NUMBER ONE’ oh my, me, mine....

What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want what I see, I like talking about you, you, you, you usually, but occasionally,

I wanna talk about ‘ME’....” T oby Keith’s catchy country tune is full of personal pronouns and it pokes fun at the human need for recognition and acknowledgement. It’s natural to want praise and recognition. It makes us feel validated, important, necessary and even loved. And whether they occur at home, in the workplace or even in a group of volunteers, we love those ‘atta-boy’ moments when someone gives us credit for a job well done, a great idea or solving a problem. That pat on the back is one of the things that keeps us going.

But sometimes, that need for recognition can get in the way of solving a problem. To make it more complicated, how we use language, that very thing we use to communicate, can make it difficult to communicate. What the? Just think about this for a minute: Have you ever listened to someone’s explanation and then thought, “Exactly what does that mean?” Well, guess what? Turns out words are not just words. In the world of communication, words equal emotional response. We have feelings about words.

Ah yes...the ‘emotional response.” It can make us feel included or excluded in an instant. And that emotional response can set off an emotional chain reaction in either direction within just a few seconds. Have you ever heard someone describe a situation where emotions are considered the cause of a negative action? “Well, I guess their emotions just got the best of them.” If you’re a parent, you’ve probably used the phrase, “Don’t use that tone with me”. Maybe you can recall a news story about violent crime described as a, “crime of passion.” How about the dreaded “knee jerk reaction”?

At this point, please allow me to confess that I am very guilty of jumping to conclusions, thinking my ideas are always the best, being stubborn and having the occasional ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. I’ve been at meetings where things didn’t go as I’d envisioned. And sometimes that made me angry. Even though the issue may have been decided, I would tell the story of the situation and how everyone else must be blind not to see that my solution was best. And in telling and retelling the story, my anger and indignation would grow. Here’s an brief example of how it might sound to retell that story:

Can you believe that ABC on the XYC committee said, “Yada yada yada...blah blah blah” about the project that we are all supposed to be working on together. And I told them that my idea was much better because it would be easier for us. And she said that my idea really wasn’t the way to go because she knows someone important and her connection is best for all of us... yada yada yada.

Now take another look at that story. I, me and my get in the way of working toward a solution. There’s no mention of the problem because the pronouns don’t leave much room. The personal conflict becomes the primary issue and the project takes a back seat to all the unnecessary drama. Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to believe in yourself and your ideas, but working together is important, too.

There’s another way to look at those situations that defuses the pronoun drama, fosters a more positive working relationship and sets the groundwork for working toward common goals: Kick out the pronouns, focus on the situation, and try to skip, delay or manage the emotional response. Whenever there’s a situation that sets off the knee jerk reaction, take a minute to look at the problem without pronouns.

It’s a method that’s long on “solution” and short on “drama.” Individual creativity is probably one of the most powerful problem skills we have, and when we work together for a common goal and agree to get the job done, there’s not much that will stop us.

Bottom line? Let go of I, me, my and mine, get focused on us, we and ours and get ready to watch us grow.

I think we can do it.

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2012-01-26 digital edition

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