From observation it is rare for someone to get up in the morning and say “I’m going to be as ineffective as possible today!”. Usually we get up and get prepared to go into our work and our life with the inten-tion of delivering on tasks, goals and our role as well as we can despite the various chaos and crises that can occur regularly to get in the way.
As we work with clients, be they individuals’, teams or organisations, we discuss the concept of behav-iour that assists in being effective and the behaviours that make us or others ineffective.
We use a very simple exercise to do this. We put a line across the middle of a page and ask people to populate from their experience either behaviour that works and had them bringing their discretionary effort or behaviours demonstrated that had them withdraw that effort causing them to either actively or passively resist the person who was displaying the behaviour. We talk about this as ‘above’ or ‘below’ the line behaviour and we then focus our conversation with them on how to stay above the line to be-come truly effective.
However what is always more interesting to me is why people go below the line and behave in a way that doesn’t work – even when they know it is ineffective.
In exploring this we’ve come to learn that essentially the below the line behaviour is emotionally based and in many cases is based in a need to feel secure by controlling the event or experience being en-countered. You could describe it as unresolved emotional issues prompting an unconscious and nega-tive response driven by a need to feel safe or secure and therefore based in insecurity.
When we are being ineffective we will often rationalise and justify our behaviour pointing the finger at another as the cause, yet the genuine opportunity is to begin to explore within and to recognise the triggers for us that create the response.
On one hand it could be that we lacked something in our early life and so we make up for it by ego driven and pride-based behaviour in the present – promoting ourselves over others, telling others how good we are and wanting to control everything as an extreme.
On the other hand we may have been emotionally hurt, damaged or wounded and we act out of fear to protect ourselves in situations that trigger past experiences and where we unconsciously attribute the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ and act to minimise the damage to ourselves by withdrawing, avoiding or hiding from the situation.
The thing is until and unless we are prepared to investigate the causes for our own behaviour and our responses, we are destined to continue that cycle – and that’s ineffective!
For us all, the only thing we have control over in this world is our self so any change has to come from within. It’s uncomfortable however on the edge of that discomfort is where we do our learning.