In my work as director of I.T. for a large multinational corporation, I was having a problem with my managers making decisions that benefited their own units at the expense of overall corporate goals. I spent lots of time explaining the importance of the overall goals and they would express their support and agreement. But then a situation would come up, and again they would make decisions to the contrary in “this one case.” This one case was almost all the time. This would lead to my lecturing and debating, not solving the problem.
After taking courses at Option such as Empower Yourself and Radical Authenticity, I began to realize things about my own behavior. While watching the teachers talking with students about their beliefs, I often assumed I knew what the students were going to say and was surprised when I was dead wrong. Through my work at Option, I realized I could be a much more effective manager if I applied the Option approach of listening in a non-judgmental, accepting manner. I did not believe these qualities would work in a business environment. Nevertheless, I decided to try it.
In meetings, it was difficult for me to break my own pattern of behavior. I developed a private technique of pushing my chair back from the table to remind myself that I wanted to behave differently. Then I would simply ask questions about their decisions being careful to listen and not make judgments. The results were amazing. They began to discover for themselves what they believed wasn’t true. They discovered new approaches that worked to meet everyone’s goal. Eventually meetings became much more productive through this process of listening more to each other and exploring the group’s beliefs together. This approach has enabled us to build team consensus beyond what I would have thought possible!
Susan Martin, Director of I.T., New York