A recent article I read about what’s called “hierarchical relationships” in work place, reminded me of a very important fact about all relationships. As soon as we start thinking we are better than someone else, or smarter than they are, or more important – across board – we are in trouble, and work is in trouble, and relationship is in trouble.
Why? Because we are never better than someone else, or smarter than they are, or more important than they are, across board in absolute sense. Everyone has something to contribute.
Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Each of us knows something another person does not, or sees it more clearly, or is better at a certain aspect of situation. It fact it’s often person not on firing line who has emotional clarity to perceive what’s going on.
In ideal situation, we rely on strengths of other when they’re needed, recognizing them and acknowledging them. We work together, laterally, not from a vantage part of being “better than.”
Think of all times your child taught you something. I hear this happening all time. Yes, you are parent, and you know many things your child does not know and must be doing your job, but your child is in touch with things. Most of all, they are in touch with themselves, and with their feelings, and with yours. It’s hard to fool your child about how you’re “truly” feeling, and this can be just information you need at time.
The other day I heard a mother snap at her child in store for asking for a toy. The child started crying and replied, “But why are you mad at me?” It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. To want a toy is normal. To ask for a toy is normal. To ask for a toy when you’ve been told not to, is also normal, as we all make mistakes, And most importantly, to want something, or to ask for it, or to make a mistake isn’t cause for someone else to get “mad.”
We’re used to thinking of relationships in a hierarchical manner – boss over manager over employees. But in actuality, everyone is contributing something crucial to enterprise or they wouldn’t be there. I have heard an attorney say to his paralegal, “I could never have done this without you,” but it is far too rare, yes?
THE BIRD SANCTUARY
The other day I was in a huge Lowe’s store. I was sure I had landed in a bird sanctuary by mistake. Under huge expanse of vaulted ceiling, I could hear birds chirping – nice, sweet songbirds, not grackles – and every now and then one would zoom past. When salesman appeared, I asked him about it. He said, yes, they were there all time now. I said, “Your poor manager. They don’t teach that in MBA school.”
Then he told me that every now and then a kitten would come into store. The first time it happened, they called manager and he stood there, and no one knew what to do about it. Then one of saleswomen came up who had done this before … capturing wild kittens and putting them outside. She asked for gloves and went about business of luring kitten and carrying it outside. Whose job was it? She didn’t ask. The manager didn’t ask.. The other salespeople didn’t ask. They just wanted someone who knew what to do about it.
Moving away from hierarchical relationship is starting to occur simply out of necessity. Many work projects require teamwork now, because they demand more information than any one person has, no matter what their field of expertise. They require more emotional intelligence than IQ because things don’t always work out way we think they will. Emotional intelligence means being creative and flexible in problem-solving.