Many years ago, I was working with groups of young people who had been thrown out of school for ‘bad behaviour’. They were a great bunch of kids, once they decided they trusted you. Having been given that honour – of being trusted – I was curious to know what I had done to earn it.
Ade told me that two things mattered to them:
- I didn’t talk down to them
- I had never once seemed to doubt their ability to achieve whatever they wanted to
I wondered why that was, and then realised that I had been brought up to believe that everyone has something special about them, so that’s what I looked for in others. And whatever you look for, you find…
It is a vital perspective, if you want to bring out the best in those you work with. There was a piece of research done in the USA, where they took two mixed ability classes, but told their teachers that one group were high achievers, and the other group were slow learners. By the end of the first term, the teachers had proved them right!
The group classed as high achievers were all achieving, the other group were all being slow learners.
With beliefs, you tend, as in this example, to get what you expect. So, stop and think about what you expect your colleagues to be like. If they don’t get your point, do you think they are a bit slow or not bright enough? Or do you think that you have expressed it badly?
We can prove any belief we like to hold, so why not make it easier for you to enable people to be at their best, by deciding to believe that they are pretty special, your job is just to bring that out in them.
- List your beliefs about others, including the contradictions – be honest in this one
- Now go through your list and choose the beliefs that would be useful to you in enabling others to develop, then add some if you want to
- At your next team meeting, read through the ones you have chosen, and decide to act as if they are always true, for the whole of that session, and see what happens