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Ombuds’ Insight: Behaviors for Success

by Tony Belak, university ombuds last modified Apr 24, 2013 08:39 AM

How you think and act can determine success, failure, or something in between; that place called mediocracy where we settle for what we get.

Ombuds’ Insight: Behaviors for Success

Tony Belak

Some behaviors have been identified with limiting success, and these habits can be contagious with colleagues and within an organization. When we display these negative behaviors we reinforce mediocracy as acceptable. It cannot be acceptable to a vibrant and competitive workforce and we should strive to abstain from:

  • Impatience with others
  • Being easily distracted
  • Placing tasks over people
  • Becoming the culture
  • Being disorganized
  • Accepting discouragement
  • Placing IQ over EQ

We each have a unique universal field of experiences and exposures to life’s education. When we use a word we have a precise definition in the message conveyed, but the listener may have a different interpretation or understanding. That does not mean the listener failed to understand, only that the understanding was not mutual. We must remember that all communication occurs in the mind of the listener. To listen is to communicate and there are two emotional factors that affect most communications; 1) how you feel about the other person’s ideas and, 2) what you believe the other person feels about your ideas.

Focusing on the goal will lead to success when the plan unfolds as anticipated. Often, there are distractions to divert our energy and attention. Interpersonal conflict can distract the most focused individual when we are deprived of the necessary elements for success and healthy relationships…communication, recognition, and trust. When we believe others view us negatively or in a false light, we struggle as though to breathe in nourishing air from a toxic environment.

If collaboration is a sharing of responsibilities and resources to achieve common goals, we do this but the extent and quality of those interactions often do not meet expectations. The shared reality of people who work together depends on the structure of their relationships, the culture within their organization, and the degree of cooperation, communication, solidarity, and collaboration among them. We are the culture in the petri dish, but when we express feelings about ourselves, others, the situation we are currently in, or anything, a new level of dialogue is opened and we can exchange and share authentic relationship data that strengthens and builds trust.

The primary elements of emotional intelligence begin with self, such as developing self-awareness with an ability to regulate your behavior and thoughts to motivate you following setbacks. These are necessary skills for better empathetic reactions to others and for developing healthy relationships. Being a team member is important. Because most work is done in project teams, learn how to handle constructive discontent, how to motivate others, and how to get along. This may mean resonating with others and tuning in to their feelings.

Proponents of Six Sigma view it as the scientific framework for the excellence of the external, which is essential for not accepting medioracy as one’s best. What completes the quest for total excellence is the pursuit of the excellence of the internal, which means “actions and decisions from a higher level of consciousness will be far more conducive not only to our own well-being but also in the best interest of the organization and society.” (Predeep B. Deshpande, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, University of Louisville, and President, Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc.) This higher consciousness can be achieved through meditation, a process of mindfulness where your attention is focused and your breathing deliberate. “Excellence of the internal” through meditation encourages compassion in individuals, and the link to compassion presents an enormous opportunity for all organizations to improve performance at all levels even without six sigma programs in place

Compassion is a virtue of empathy for the suffering of others and is regarded as a fundamental part of human love and the keystone to greater social interconnection and humanism, which are foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood. Compassion is ranked a strong virtue in numerous philosophies and is considered in almost all major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues. When we practice the Golden Rule (Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done Unto You) we are not compassionate. We must do unto others as they would have done unto them in order for compassion to be more fully realized.

A recent survey of executives by the American Management Association indicates workers lack communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills. We teach technical skills but it is not IQ that employers seek…it is EQ, because people with high EQ’s are a better predictor of success and performance than those with high IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can be boosted through meditation, mindfulness, caring, and compassion and these are all learned skills.

Compassion in the workplace is essential for durable, satisfying, and rewarding relationships and is achieved through productive communication, understanding, and respect…qualities not found in a mediocre workplace. Compassion contains a strong emotional component, and parties should be able to share their expectations for one another, bargain for expected behaviors, and openly acknowledge mutual respect and dignity for self and others.

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