This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do from a behavioral perspective, but it must be monitored if a team is to continually thrive. For example, a team might "norm" by figuring out and then accepting that it is fine to disagree with Mary's ideas, but don't EVER disagree with Bill. He will blow a gasket if you disagree with him, and he is the boss, so just accept his ideas and move forward. As you can imagine, this is NOT GOOD for team engagement, and it dampens the creativity and potential of the team.
Often, when I hold up a mirror to the team and try to show them their patterns, they will say, "that's just the way Bill is. I have tried to address it, but it won't change. Bill is just Bill."
THAT is what I call a "Write-Off."
How to Handle a Write-OffWhen we "write-off" another person as I have described above, it's like putting them- and ourselves- in a box. We have a nice, neat prediction that gives us permission to continue accommodating as we have done in the past, and allows us to keep the discomfort of change at bay. We feel that we already know how someone will act (and we may have lots of experience that supports this feeling), so we can rest on the laurels of our own predictable behaviors. Again, this makes perfect sense! We are creatures of habit, and with the growing complexity of our daily lives, we seek continuity and predictability to make things easier.
But it works against our own growth.
If I am to grow as a team member, as a leader, and as an individual, I have to see my own blind spots. I have to re-approach the situation and try to find a different way to talk with Bill. After all, people evolve and relationships are dynamic and changing.
Now that you've read this article, I challenge you to look for a person that you have "written off" as utterly predictable in their behavior. Remember that this effectively puts them in a box. Now look deeper. Find your own blind spot that is created in the wake. Try to identify your own part of the pattern. Your belief that they are predictable usually points to your own predictability. Break free. Try something new. Re-approach with a different attitude or new words.Get curious about the other person. Dig deeper.
This fresh perspective may just be the thing that transforms your relationship with the other person and helps you forge a new habit based on awareness and capability.
And by all means, CONTACT Claire Laughlin at Leadership4Design.