Have you ever walked into a room and everyone stops talking? Did you immediately assume ‘they must be talking about me’? Have you ever been turned down for a job and decided it must have been because you made a real mess of the interview? Did you excitedly tell your direct report about the new project that you’ve managed to get her involved with only for her to look at you like you’re from Mars? ‘I thought she really wanted to be involved with that – I obviously completely misunderstood her’, you think to yourself.
When clients review their last few weeks for me, similar scenarios sometimes come up. The client tells me what happened, how he felt and what the other person felt/thought.
‘How do you know what your boss thought?’ I ask, ‘Did you ask her?’
‘No, but she obviously didn’t like my idea’
‘But how do you know? Can you read her mind?’ I wonder aloud – although if my clients really are mind-readers, I’ll soon be able to rest my vocal cords. Whilst this is all done in good humour, there’s a serious point here. We are quick to make assumptions and to take things personally.
Most of these assumptions are around some kind of rejection. The application was rejected; the invitation was rejected; the opportunity was rejected; we were rejected. If we were to reverse the situation, we can probably all think of times when we didn’t behave the way someone might have expected for reasons they couldn’t possibly know. Perhaps you interviewed someone recently who seemed absolutely perfect for the role but he was pipped to the post by someone who was equally great plus she had some really useful experience.
Maybe you fully intended to call your friend to arrange to meet her for lunch but then the nursery called and you had to pick up your ill son immediately and your friend completely slipped your mind. Maybe your boss gave you the opportunity to go to that conference you’ve been dropping not very subtle hints about for months but you didn’t react very well because you’re exhausted from a week of late nights completing your budgets.
Today’s pebble to examine:
Think of a situation in which you’re feeling rejected. What makes you believe you’ve been rejected. Ask yourself ‘is that a fact or am I making an assumption?’
I’d be interested to hear how you get on.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?