Recently, I watched two co-workers in conversation. As they talked and became more animated, it was clear they had both stopped listening to the other, intent on making their point.
The discussion was about when and how to handle the task of clearing out a back office area that had become an ad hoc storage space. One of them had decided it needed to be done – immediately. Her colleague resisted, preferring to delay – or avoid the task altogether and it led to the disagreement I witnessed.
It was a good example of how a small issue can grow into a bigger challenge, usually caused when we expect people to think or approach things the same way we do.
The motivations of both co-workers were equally valid and the difference between them can be explained by face reading.
The one who was ready to do the clear out, had a straight forehead and strong jaw. Her forehead represented a practical, focused approach to solving problems. The shape of her jaw showed determination to stand up for what she believed in, and hold her ground. She didn’t want the area to be for storage and knew it could be used more productively. Her colleague, with her round face and full cheeks, liked having her “stuff” close by and had been using the area for personal storage.
In spite of their disagreement, both perspectives are understandable. And both personalities offered complimentary traits for their business; one being practical and efficient which ensured the continued growth of their business, the other, with a nurturing, supportive skills to make clients comfortable.
Human behaviour is complex and while everyone instinctively operates from their own perspective, by understanding the people around us, we can build respect, value our diverse contributions, and in the end, avoid misunderstandings.