My experience working with virtual teams has increased the past year, and I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. When talking to someone I’ve never seen, I always assume we are in the same age bracket. Time after time I’m shocked to hear he’s 47, she’s 52, etc. It made me realize how frequently we look at people’s actions within our perspective and fail to realize they aren’t coming from the same place.
I think many of us are quick to judge a person’s actions by the world we know and the experiences we’ve had. We fail that person when we don’t try to understand them before we make a judgement. I know I’ve been guilty of assuming a person isn’t friendly or that they are slow, and therefore I think ineffectively, not stopping to think about what might be going on in that person’s personal or professional lives.
I hope that you will try, like I’m going to, to stop next time you make a judgment about a person’s actions, and remember to make an attempt to understand. And if it means asking them, then be brave enough to do so. Sometimes just asking allows the doors of understanding to be thrown open. Just make sure to ask the question in a helpful – not hurtful – manner!
Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.