Friday, January 23, 2009

Let’s Watch a While Longer...

A new member of a team joins with high praise. He’s succeeded in other roles and in other fields of life, is a friendly and generous guy, with time for people. A little later, however, there’s a side to this person’s approach to teamwork that wasn’t known previously. He sends quite a blunt email on a bleak morning, and everyone gets to see he’s human after all. Everyone’s relieved... except, that is, the boss.

And it’s the same for us all. Getting to know people, I mean really know them, takes time. The more we get to know people, the more we see they’re just like us; flawed.

It’s the same for us, to those who might be tempted to be impressed by us for a time. “As the distance between you and others decreases, your perceived image changes. You finally become human--with all the frailties that accompany the title.”[1]

This can be disappointing for them, and if the situation is reversed as mentioned earlier, for us too.

People will disappoint. Here’s the point:

Too often we make instant, flippant assessments and comparisons regarding people. Almost in small-talk we rate people and shoot off the first things that come into our mammalian heads, leaving our noecortex (our real thinking brain) back at the starting blocks.

In assessing ability, character, value and worth, it pays to watch a while longer, reserving our judgment, being open to what might transpire. This is both fair to the person who’s made a poor initial impression (perhaps because of nerves), and to the person we think can’t fail us, but who will eventually.

Why would we want to commit to the false? Why not be more guarded in our stated perceptions of people and let their performance speak for itself?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Dave Fleming, Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004), p. 151.

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