So, You Thought I Said THAT? You Meant to say WHAT?

Ever get your wires unfortunately crossed in a 1on1 communication?

This can occur in the briefest F2F, Voice-message, Email, Text, Meeting Aside, Phone Call, On-line Posting or even with a conventional Letter.

No matter what we do…people just hear what they want to hear. But why?

Any individual will Understand Inputs while being affected by:

     – Their Personality (as defined by, “Culture to Personality: Curse & Blessing,dated 03/15/17)

     – The Situation

     – Their Mood

     – Timing

     – History with the corresponding Communicator

     – Their Intentions and Needs

     – Medium Employed

     – And, past Personal Experience

When people Communicate Outwardly they are influenced by much the same things.

So, there are numerous dynamics affecting messaging.

And we can face daunting resulting challenges with individuals in the way they both Interpret and Send their signals.

In distant human origins we had simple grunts and gestures to facilitate communications. Constantly evolving speech, language, vocabulary, tools, time-sensitivity and media applications have dramatically modified even the simplest interchanges.

One would intuitively believe this array of options would greatly enhance our ability to communicate more flawlessly; in many ways this is true in others, not.

Some vehicles just don’t lend themselves as well as others for any given application…

For Example: You would not Mail an SOS Alert to the Coast Guard; few People would propose Marriage via a Text message, or execute a Firing by Email, and so on.

And at the heart of the communication challenge is that Human Element: The ability to flawlessly communicate in the most suitable manner and the skill to appropriately interpret on the receiving side; this skill is by no means universal nor even common.

It’s clear that people can often make poor choices in sending messages.

It’s equally clear many folks just don’t make good reads of what they receive.

Humans are profoundly affected by their mental Pathology. They believe what they choose to believe and can seemingly rationalize quite wild opinion.  

Even communications with familiars may be subject to startling misunderstandings. So, a swing-and-a-miss with a more casual acquaintance is often a likelihood.

Such misinterpretations are often fueled by underlying, obscure Personal Insecurities.

How can we know what sensitivities and neurosis lurk just below the surface in newer relationships? It can sometimes be daunting to speculate what personality traits might emerge in seemingly everyday situations, let alone during stressful times.

When communications become confused or perhaps volatile relationships are either forged or bridges burned.

And in practice we often learn more quickly about the peccadillos, neurosis and pathology of others by rapid exposure and tribulation.

As a result, we choose fight or flight. Do we digest and persevere with problem situations or just walk away and avoid?

There is no one solution; the choice is situationally dependent. What is the value and/or risk?

In all our communications we must necessarily remain sensitive to opportunities and liabilities of human, situational and channel implications.

Have you come unglued with anyone, recently? Was it truly warranted, or a likely product of your own vantage point or insecurity?

Anyone derailed on you? Been initially lost as to what in their pathology triggered an outburst?

Take some time to consider recent fraught communications. Often you can readily mitigate problems, sometimes you should not even try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@

What Are You Trying to Say?

CommunicationEver embarrassed yourself by giving imprecise or carelessly ambiguous information? I have.

My major gaffe was as a young graduate in my first professional role. The reaction I received to my waffling was severe and thankfully proved a valuable epiphany.

Fortunately, I was in an after-work situation, but talking loosely about what was a complex, job-related technical issue.

I was corrected, admonished and appropriately lectured by an older, more seasoned peer. It turned out to be one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned; never resented the chiding even as it occurred.

At the time I was coming newly from academia, enamored with glib word usage and style, characteristic of a less demanding, largely non-critical and more forgiving environment.

My new work outside of this needed a more disciplined and precise style of communication. I was fortunate to have learned this early on. It was a rapid and effective cultural adjustment.

Now, business usually demands greater rigor, orientated around rapid problem-solving.

Yet even today, most people I meet tend towards imprecise conversation and communication. It’s just easier and less demanding.

Also, many cultures seem to revere a more relaxed delivery and statement. Demonstrating an unhurried, manana (Spanish lang.) approach is often considered more polished, even sophisticated.

But there are times when precision and accuracy are important; indeed, they are essential.

For Example: Ever been burned by someone who’ll see you by noon. What does this even mean? This is not helpful if you then need to hang around wondering if the term implies a 9-12 window, or maybe not long after 12 o’clock (?). It’s virtually impossible to know what is intended.

Now perhaps it does not matter so much if this person’s (say) arriving at your house for an afternoon or evening social event, but if it’s to an office meeting where folks must be on-call, juggling lunch… well, it’s a mess. It’s inconsiderate.

Similarly, consider any situation where someone is trying to solve an important and urgent problem. They don’t want to hear your feelings and suspicions about an event, they need to know WHAT happened, WHEN, WHERE and to what EXTENT.

When you routinely fail to provide appropriate (aka essential and/or required) details you are likely to appear either foolish, unconcerned, indifferent, uncalibrated, inconsiderate or even unintelligent. Such behavior just seems flakey.

It is wise to communicate with the clarity and precision the situation demands.

It is unwise to fail to recognize such situations in BOTH business and personal settings.

Circumstances are worsened further when people are reasonably pressed for clarification and their apparent prevarications continue. This is easily taken as insensitivity or aloofness.

Being sensitive to the informational needs of others is often just common courtesy.

The burden on those requiring facts and accuracy can be profound, too. They typically press for details

out of necessity, not some misguided need to control (though this can occur).

Demanding clear communication from others can be exhausting. It is often essential.

Relationships, businesses and friendships are built on trust, which requires clear communication.

Sometimes it IS appropriate to relate matters in terms of feelings and opinions. But when specific problems must be resolved hard facts need to emerge.

Encouraging others to communicate more clearly can be done in a several ways. These revolve around either gently and systematically routinely questioning inputs to seek such clarity, or outright demanding such delivery.

The former approach conditions behavior and grows awareness, whereas the latter seeks immediate compliance.

Training a behavior though awareness is the most congenial approach.

Demanding accurate, concise communication is sometimes essential. It may however require later follow-up, social repairs or explanation.

In most cultures, business, time pressure and the requirement to get results will not allow participants to wander about with waffling communication styles.

In truth, precision for its’ own sake is seldom required. Yet when accuracy really IS REQUIRED, do NOT be the person offering vagaries.

Do you need to seriously improve the way you communicate with others? Are you frustrating relationships with your lack of clarity?

Should you speak to a worker or colleague about their frustrating imprecision? Is there specific guidance you might provide to improve such weaknesses in others?

Carefully consider how these issues affect your professional and personal lives. Perhaps now is the time to address the problems before frustration and resentments compound.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh

 

That Which Does Not Kill Me, Can Still Do Harm

fredMost of us have likely ruminated over Nietzsche’s maxim, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

The insight holds much merit. But I believe it to be inherently flawed.

It is true for example that trauma survivors have reported positive changes and enhanced personal development. This phenomenon has even been named: Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

I have been fortunate to reap benefits myself of some positive behaviors and personality traits from bad experience. But cannot say I’ve seen others routinely advantaged by their traumas; quite the contrary.

So, let’s consider an Example (*) of Trauma:

Son cannot swim, Father wants him to learn. Boy is thrown into deep water to struggle and survive without assistance.

Disturbingly, this has been a literal and metaphorical event many times.

Now if the boy doesn’t sink, he may be stronger as a survivor and embrace a broad philosophy and fearlessness of diving-into new things.

In practice, many may learn to swim this way, yet still experience a life-long discomfort around bodies of water and lose trust for the person who threw them in. This psychological trauma could be both profound and enduring.

And correspondingly, the child that swam, seemingly survived and thrived may develop unhealthy tendencies resulting from their experience. Perhaps they will evolve to recklessly dive-into new situations without sufficient thought?

After all, an individual’s profound strength in any area is often accompanied by its corresponding weakness, as a flaw. Great strengths are also often our weaknesses.

As a Metaphor, this Example (*) provides many potent insights.

It is accepted that Adaptable Individuals can grow from traumatic events. Less intuitively it’s found that highly adaptable people do not grow as much; affects are less profound, likely because they already evolve well and learn from experience.

But not everyone is very adaptable.

And not all significant events appear obviously traumatic; the difference is in the eye of the experiencer.

In practice, our personalities and psyche are molded by experience. We are the result of our genes, culture, environment and experiences.

From birth, we are bombarded with events and our environment.

There are both philosophical beliefs and (even) religious doctrines that argue our Acceptance of trauma through and passed suffering is what moves us forward to Personal Growth.

In reality, we do not all move forward positively, building upon and benefitting from exposure(s) to traumatic events.

I would wager every person on the planet is morphed or inhibited in some adverse fashion as a direct result of negative experience.

Life brings challenges to us all

We routinely see or hear of Abuse (mental and physical), Cultural Pressures, Neglect and more.

Divorce, Bullying, Prejudice, Molestation, Crime, Violence and even War are commonly visible in most societies. If we are not directly involved we are exposed to such occurrences.

Events such as these are not water off our backs. They are formative and influential. They sculpt our personalities, opinions and psyches.

As a result, everyone carries baggage from one experience or more.

Many of us are indeed highly adaptable humans; we do learn and become stronger. But it is improbable all people are sufficiently able to adapt and be unaffected by every event in their past.

It is possible for those more suited (or, fit) to recognize detrimental impressions made upon them and act to often mitigate many harms. But its improbable anyone can extract from their buried memories every single formative barb that subtracts from their complete well-being.

Certainly, there is always outside counsel (be it personal, friendly and/or professional) available to address serious concerns about feelings or behavior. Need help? Then seek it out.

Do you really understand your reactions to all events and encounters? Are there comments circulating wondering why you behave or react in some manner? Are there undigested occurrences in your background?

Closely consider your past and current reactions. There will be definitive events that predict your strengths and weaknesses. Give them sufficient thought and when armed with greater insight, direct your own personal growth.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh

 

Fundamental Trust Keys Relationships

Trust fallTrust is foundational in a relationship whether between Colleagues, Friends, Spouses, Significant Others or even Animals.

What it is and means can be stated succinctly:

The NOUN, Trust

firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.

Trusting someone

believing in their reliability, truthfulness, abilities or strength.

Many people fear to trust. Sometimes this is burned into their personalities as the result of their life experiences. Perhaps it is tied directly to interactions with a specific person.

In the end, being able to trust (and wisely) will prove fundamental to our personal happiness.

Throughout life all relationships have ups and downs. But there remain actions we can take to help others trust us.

The mantle of being Trustworthy is commonly assumed by:

Keeping routines, being Predictable (as opposed to boring, fickle and random etc.)

Being Reliable

Meaning What We Say

Telling the Truth

Sharing How We Feel

Saying No, Sometimes (as/if/when appropriate)

These traits and behaviors are self-explanatory.

Building Trust in relationships is generally believed achieved by:     trust 2

Shared Values

Providing SpaceConsideration and Kindness

Acting Without Alternative Motives

Making the Relationship a Real Priority

Seeing Things Through

Again, the meanings here are self-evident.

The downside to underperforming in these areasLack of Trust: a slippery slope typically leading to lies and deception.

And since people have a propensity to treat others as they are treated, there is an inevitable likelihood they will reciprocate and respond with the same or equivalent behavior. The innate human desire to retaliate can cause us to enter the descending slope.

Relationships are easily overtaken by Deception when Trust is weakened.

These pointers and guidelines are assumed, general and common knowledge. They summarize long-standing principals and belief.

Yet how many people really adhere to such maxims in their relationships? Who is truly aware of the pitfalls and routinely acts to mitigate the liabilities?

How are you doing in your relationships? Any of these simple pointers need your improved application with those you care about?

At work, home and in everyday life, these same Principals of Trust apply. So, take a close look at how you are doing, and why.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh

 

Great EXECUTION is NOT Everything

Creativity and ExecutionJust a few days ago I read A.N.Other article about the supreme importance of Execution. It was well-written, pertinent with many valid points.

But, it missed the mark.

Naturally, Execution is extremely important. If you cannot bring Ideas (and Products) to fruition, they might as well have never been conceived.

Imperfect or failed execution is lost opportunity and wasted investment. All this is true.

I first had the related debate 10’s of years ago; then we were discussing the relative importance of Ideas versus Execution.

As a young, start-up VP-of-Engineering debating a seasoned (well-known and highly respected) Silicon Valley Executive (my boss, the CEO) we both leaned with inevitable biases.

My colleague held that “ONLY Execution mattered.” I felt his position egregiously undervalued the creative process.

As in many arguments, in different ways we were BOTH right. We were similarly both wrong.

Clearly, without Execution there is no result. Ideas without viable results or consequences are of little value or import; particularly so in business. Not a totally unreasonable argument.

 Yet the reverse is true: If you have no Ideas to implement, then execution prowess is meaningless.

In reality, we need BOTH Ideas AND Execution equally. This seems an obvious conclusion.

services_strategic-consultancy-creative-execution-pr1

And yet, as in every argument your opinion might differ greatly depending upon your perspective.

My colleague was in an advantaged, senior position. Seemingly every day prospective entrepreneurs would bring product and business ideas to the table. He had seen many products proposed and pushed before occasionally being taken up and implemented, sometimes many years later in modified forms.

Delays in realization can be affected by Resources, Opportunity and Timing. You need the right stuff at the right time and in the right place.

It is easy to understand that when you are surrounded by Ideas and Suggestions, they seem almost free and of lesser value. Put another way, until Execution occurs and an Idea is realized it might easily seem no more than dust blowing in the wind.

But conversely, without the Idea (and Creative Process) there is simply nothing to realize.

Ideas within themselves are inherently important, even if not realized. Creative new thoughts emerge from older ones; precedence can be common. Even dead-ends will suggest direction and provide guidance.

All this applies equally to Personal Life. Without the ability to take action (Execute) our plans (Ideas) are just thoughts; they can become unfulfilled dreams.

In Business, we need channels to produce the Ideas (or Product Concepts, or Approaches) that fuel our growth. These may be R&D, Marketing, Customer Input or other Forums and Mechanisms.

Similarly, we ultimately succeed or fail depending on the excellence of our Execution. This typically involves Development, Manufacturing, Pricing, Sales & Marketing and our Delivery.

So, there we have it. It is NOT one versus the other (Execution v. Ideas), it is BOTH.

And excellence requires at least real competence across their spectrums.

Do you have all the great Ideas necessary to succeed? Need to upgrade your sources?

Look at your own Execution. Does it get you where you want to be, when you need to get there?

Make sure YOUR Business and Life are filled with great Ideas AND the ability to make things happen.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

Adapt & Flex: The Winning Recipe for Everyone

flexMany of us have been exposed to the Personality Profiling and Human Behavior Characterizations long common in industry. Professionals often undertake their new responsibilities on the coattails of such testing. Management teams relentlessly search for excellence by better understanding the natures and differences of their colleagues; and this, all based upon

such characterization.

Yet regardless of the specific Personality-Type we find ourselves to be, there remain key BEHAVIORS from which we can all profoundly benefit. These are our abilities to Adapt and be Flexible.

Perhaps you have heard of the well-known and generally still highly regarded Briggs Meyer testing scheme? It pigeon-holes participants in one of sixteen (16) Personality-types (Types).

If interested you can easily find free testing questionnaires on-line that quickly determine your personal characteristics and hence classify you as a specific Type.

If we briefly indulge a Summary of the principals involved, this classification is achieved by considering (per Carl G. Jung’s characterization) your

General Attitude and direction of Energy Expression:

Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I)

Preference for form of Perception:

Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N)

Preference for processing Information:

Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)

This was added to (circa 1980) by Isabel Briggs Meyer (presumably a Jungian disciple) who espoused the principle of judging-perceiving influencing personality-type.

How a person Implements Processed Information:

Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

So, there we have it. By the nature of the testing we are ALL fitted into ONE of 16 Boxes. These Personality-types are defined by us being biased predominantly to one element in each of the 4 pairs (above); we are all characterized as either: E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P.

Intriguingly, in four (4) versions of these tests administered over 30 years my own characterization has remained essentially unchanged. Very interesting and consistent.

The associated detailed Personality Descriptions spell-out insightful and quite extensive character outlines for each of these resulting 16 Types: ESTJ, ESTP, ESFJ, ESFP, ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP, ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP, INTJ, INTP, INFJ and INFP.

If you embark on the testing process, once you’ve been pigeon-holed you’ll find the corresponding Personality-Type Description strikingly relevant and appropriate. These outlines alone offer insightful reading, even without a test.

But inevitably, this illumination also highlights the obvious and inevitable flaws for each personality-type. Every pigeon-hole showcases great strengths alongside (often understated) accompanying deficiencies.

Happy is the individual whose life is largely aligned with the strengths of their Personality-Type.

Yet none of us exist in a vacuum and our life experiences are broad, so inevitably those flaws (see above) can and usually will make some form of appearance. They are the chinks in our armor.

Here now is exactly why both Adaptability & Flexibility are of great import.

We can readily compensate for our Personality-type deficiencies by ADAPTING. Adaptability mitigates any weakness and enhances our ability to prevail.

Likewise, FLEXIBILITY is equally valuable. It is our ability to bend pliably with circumstance as we ADAPT to challenges.

So, Adaptability and Flexibility are great Behavioral Skills to possess. They protect and aid us when we’re most exposed by our deficiencies and yet can also enhance our performance when we are at our best.

We are exercised and stressed by challenges we face at work, home and in our personal lives. Adaptability and Flexibility are assets on every front.

Now think a while about your own circumstances.

Review both the new and familiar challenges you face. Are you ADAPTING sufficiently and FLEXING in your own best interests? Perhaps you need to improve? Think it through.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

A Challenge: Trying New Things

Try New ThingsWhy do we try new things?

Most new ventures are driven by either Necessity or Enrichment. We NEED to do things so we might benefit in some way.

 

Its common understanding that many people fear change; but what are new things if not this?

And failure to react to change can leave us leave us disadvantaged in our ability to branch out in different directions.

In practice, new ventures can be either profound or minor; as simple as bringing on a new phone App or disruptive as career change.

Sadly, for some people the discomfort of change is as dramatic for inconsequential events as major; yet, it can become life-limiting if we are paralyzed to inaction as a result.

A sudden or unexpected need for change can be a shock to almost anyone’s system. The challenge is to embrace the need (and often inevitability), take a deep breath, accept what is essential and see the ultimate opportunity and benefit.

Being able to fearlessly embrace change is empowering. It is the gateway to new ventures, skills, places and experiences.

Driving a car at >150mph can be a thrill, but then if things goes badly wrong the consequences may be dire. Similarly, going sailing can be a great adventure but here the downside of (say) a little sea-sickness is more minor (assuming risk of drowning is low!).

So, on some occasions we might be gung-ho in trying new things, but it’s generally wiser to avoid truly reckless behavior.

We can take on simple or even adventurous new enterprises, expanding our own envelope, providing we understand and can live with the associated risks and consequences.

I believe people should push themselves and seek out new challenges; be they mental, emotional or physical.Try New Things 2

There is no reason we should back off doing what we can reasonably achieve throughout the course of our entire lives.

After all, when we no longer challenge ourselves we cease to grow. This is the path to stagnation.

I regularly meet people who are regretful about specific things they have not done. And sadly, these were clearly readily possible within their financial, physical and emotional constraints.

Certainly, unless fraught with rare psychological constraints, no-one need be that person full of regrets.

Aspire to what is possible for you.

For example, a young healthy person may not (say) be practically able to climb Mount Everest, but perhaps they are still fully capable of clambering up many Monroes (>3,000 feet tall mountains), if they just make the opportunity.

Similarly, older people might not even be fully mobile, but can still (say) get themselves wheel-chaired onto a plane, cross the country and attend that favorite nieces wedding.

We can often do more than we first think. There is always much that can be reasonably realized.

We only need to imagine and try; there is usually some way to make great things happen.

Got any skills you failed to develop? Any places you never went and still might? Any person you should have sought out and didn’t? Is there something you just never attempted?

Fortunately, it’s usually never too late.

Imagine what you might try, and make it happen!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

 

Fail and Succeed: A Winning Recipe


fail fastA large part of S
ucceeding is Failing.

Not that Failure is preferable to Success, but rather its often an inevitable step on the path.

Inventors notoriously fail repeatedly when refining their inventions. Thousands of failed attempts were made to perfect a viable light-bulb, for example.

Some failures are catastrophic and should preferably never occur; the Titanic comes to mind.

Ideally, we avoid and design out all failure and risk. But in practice we are often forced to discover problems retroactively.

Failures generally precede and are fundamental to ultimate success. Little is ever perfected without repetition and improvement; in such circumstances dealing successfully with failure is an imperative.

Triumph through failing is accomplished by our distinct Actions:

Recognizing the Failure

Analyzing the Problem(s)

Developing Corrective Action

Implementing the Next Pass

And, above all DOING ALL THIS QUICKLY.

Fail Fast has been the mantra for Entrepreneurs, Inventors, Investors and Business people for decades.

Not all Failures are catastrophic; they are typically inevitable, likely or possible. The issue is to learn from them, adjust and move forwards.

These principals and Actions are by no means unique to Business and the Invention Process. They apply equally to many facets of life including, but not limited to Interpersonal Communications, Relationships and all the Sciences and Arts we might imagine.

It is our human ability to learn and move on that matters; our intellect, heart, appetite and resolve enable us to prevail and ultimately succeed.

The very act of practicing anything to perfect one’s skills is by its nature an acceptance of the role of failure in pursuit of success.

Yet the idea of Failure itself is not well received in most cultures. Nevertheless, embracing a methodology and philosophy centered around this seeming inevitability is of obviously great value.

And ultimately, we are all resultant products of our Success and Failures.

So-called, Failing Fast is critical to Manufacturing. If you’re building (say) complex or expensive goods it behooves you to test early and often to find unfixable defects quickly and eliminate further wasted investment. Both the success and profitability of most Corporations is directly tied to this approach. And of course, any fixable defects might also be reworked.

Relationships and Human Interaction can be quite similar, but might require more subtle handling. Here, sometimes rapid recognition AND correction of issues is critical; in other instances, simple early awareness and moderated reaction is more appropriate.

Examples of this might be (say) the difference between clearing a building that’s on fire, versus working through corrective action(s) for a child’s bad behavior. In both these cases knowing early on helps, but the need for immediate and brisk action can be different.

In most all instances, rapid RECOGNITION of Failure is valuable. The issue is to have the recovery process and Actions consistent (in both timing and severity) with the significance and urgency of the Failure (or, Problem).

Clearly NEW products, situations and events blatantly cry out for this type of analysis and thinking.

Thus, it’s easy to overlook established processes in need of fresh review. Initiating insightful investigation (even belatedly) often uncovers valuable new opportunities for both great and small improvements, simply by using a Fail Fast approach and mindset.

And again, these principals apply equally to Business, Personal and Family Life, Engineering, Sciences and Arts alike.

So, are you Failing Fast, when you should? Checking for troubles, early on? Are you adjusting and correcting in the appropriate timeframe?

There’s no time like the present to run these ideas and principals by your Work and Private Life to discover just what benefits and improvements are there for the taking. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Growth in Pretentiousness Fueling Social Value

Image result for PretentiousI was never a fan of pretension. And, I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of the behavior.

The Definition of Pretentious is attempting to impress by offering greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

After the casual observation that pretension is seemingly everywhere these days, I was wondering what might explain the apparently uncommon growth in this trend.

Certainly, there are some obvious current Contributing Factors:

Social Equalization. Lack of growth in or reduction of household economic situations will cause many individuals to seek ways to differentiate themselves and feel special; a human need.

Information Access. Google anything and read for 15 mins and you can usually surpass most people’s general knowledge on any subject; it’s easy to appear expert.

Knowledge Compartmentalization. Experts in maturing, competitive fields must generally evolve more vertical knowledge in lieu of broadening their expertise; they are driven to go deeper and so inevitably become less broadly expert and educated. We are in an era where a thinning veneer of disaggregated public knowledge exists; it is harder to be broadly expert.

Political Correctness (PC). There’s declining cultural willingness to openly expose or confront flawed thinking, facts or claims in social situations; this provides opportunity for pretension to thrive, even in a time of more readily accessible information.

Time is Short. Who can investigate every suspicious or questionable claim?

Unthinking Acceptance. People are often easily fooled. Humans tend to readily believe what’s in print or comes from a perceived, historically reliable source; though Fake News must now be shaking this foundation.

A Pretension is a claim or aspiration to a particular quality. Being pretentious generally connotes such a claim is unworthy.

But how do we KNOW which claims are overstated or false?

Certainly we live in an age where perception is reality as the accepted norm. Indeed today, most celebrity is built on completely manufactured perception. And the speed of acceptance is such that if something looks like a duck, it’s a duck; whether or not it quacks.

We are inundated with facts and information of obvious increasingly uncensored quality. It is an era spewing fake news and prejudicial reporting on every side; so then, who can or would routinely trouble to (say) run down every minute detail of an acquaintance or colleague’s perceivably questionable claims and assertions? There is often too little time or real importance.

Image result for kardashians

If someone lays claims we are unmotivated or unable to check, perhaps we deserve them as our reality. Certainly History itself is built on such foundations.

Personally, I have lived in cultures where pretension is thought of as something as a character flaw. In an increasingly PC world it can become less clear when such behavior should even be outwardly highlighted.

Perhaps if someone purports or displays modest vestiges of some skill, knowledge or association we should always give them the benefit of the doubt with their claims? As individuals I think we tend to do this (to keep the peace; not rock the boat), even when we occasionally also record a question mark about their validity in the back of our minds.

However, if we have questions about people’s pretentions, we are unlikely to ever fully trust them on any matter of importance. Surely Leaders, Managers and friends should educate their acquaintances accordingly.

We’ve all seen people make questionable, pretentious claims regarding their jobs, lifestyles, experiences, possessions, family, associations and expertise. There’s frequently a wannabee expert proffering dubious wisdom and status at every party, dinner and social event, too.

So, it should be carefully noted that bold pretension is generally offered by a very insecure person. Ultimately, they feel vulnerable so need to make themselves more, or others less.

Now, we’ve all tweaked someone’s nose when they’ve made claims with visible flaws. Perhaps we even did this to avoid appearing gullible or unknowledgeable?

Whatever flawed claims and aspirations individuals present to us, maybe we should most commonly just let the buyers beware and bite our tongues? However, in the event of actual or material damage affecting others, it really is time to speak up. Even then it’s always wiser to be discrete and minimize any confrontation when doing so.

Humans possess and will often display unique, complex outward reactions to unwanted stimulus. And, the spur of outrageous pretentious behavior can be truly profound. Despite this, sometimes just being PC and letting things pass unacknowledged is often the wiser approach.

Do you work with a lot of pretentious people? Meet many in social situations? How do you react to these individuals?

It is easy to lose respect for people who put on airs. It is harder to walk in their shoes and understand why they do so.

So, next time you see such behavior, take a look in the mirror and check if your own peacock feathers are on display, or perhaps even stimulating the problem.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

 

Ready? And Prepared?

late travelerI was travelling recently and began to observe the behaviors of people preparing for subsequent legs of their journeys; how they schedule, allocate time, etc.

Over the years I’ve noticed travelers are either generally on-time, hit-and-miss on readiness (unpredictable on every occasion) or routinely, late. And, most folks seem to reside quite persistently in one of these brackets.

I’m one of those people that are always on-time. Any set-backs during preparations and I still stay on schedule. After all, if you’re ultimately ready several minutes early you can grab a drink or make room to move up downstream AIs. So, why not make the effort?

Yet this behavior is hardly the norm. Most travelling companions I’ve had over the years barely make it on-time or more commonly run a few minutes late and seem quite stressed as a result. And this occurs with people from a broad range of professional levels, skill-sets, ages and personality-types. Why is this?

Personally, I find risking schedules and having to rush to recover to be really undesirable. One more glitch can be a tipping point to a blown outing. Clearly, not everybody feels the same.

Certainly, everyone’s motivations are different, too. I find being ready gives me the capacity to adapt quickly if and when those unpredictable events occur, which they often do.

But from observing others it seems most people operate more from reaction than pro-action in preparedness. This is purely an anecdotal observation, but it’s made after many years bearing witness.

So why do most people appear to run late?

Procrastination means people will put things off. This can be caused by many factors; perhaps Fear of Failure, Dread of particular Events, or even Tiredness and Health Issues could all make people engage later than they should.

Whatever their reason, I don’t choose to be one of these folks who run late, miss appointments and need to react frantically when hiccups occur. And in my case, I believe this really is a choice.

Correspondingly, I’m guessing those same people who have such performance and schedule challenges have little desire to push themselves to be the always-on-time guy. It’s safe to assume that at some level this must be their choice, too.

The biggest problem I see with running late (or, close to failure) is that it appears to be symptomatic. And, those that practice this brinkmanship in the simple matter of being on-time for travel are usually the same folks who struggle more broadly with commitments.

The individual who generally fails to be on-time is typically the same person who doesn’t complete AIs in a timely manner, or blows hard deadlines and often seems unprepared, less able to respond to change.

Such performers appear unwilling (or unable?) to push themselves to achieve unless their hair is blowing in the wind as they play catch-up.

My personal philosophy is that we need to push ourselves to perform. If you give yourself too much slack you can hang yourself as a result. This does not mean we all must be constant, stoic Spartans. But we are usually better-off getting ahead of things and proactively addressing even those seemingly simple matters that have downside potential.

The reasoning for this is simple. You cannot manufacture time; it’s a critical dimension in an increasingly busy world. So, if you might run out of it, you’d better already be appropriately ahead of potential liabilities.

I’m not fanatical about risk, either. Allowing a little extra time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months or years, as is applicable) is generally a matter of Common Sense, Risk Management and Prior Experience. There is usually (NOT always) no point in overcompensating for low-likelihood setbacks.

So what is the conclusion here?

I don’t believe everyone can or should act, plan or schedule the same way. It’s improbable the huge range and variety of human personalities might easily align to prescribed, infallible, drone-like ways; certainly most would not wish to do so. Yet I do believe many folks would help out their Stress Levels, Health, Self and Professional Images if they didn’t underperform and fall-short in the described areas.

And being anxious, failing to achieve goals and objectives is certainly not a recipe for personal success.

Do you blow deadlines? Miss flights, occasionally? Show up late for meetings? Delay results to the frustration of others? If so, first just recognize the fact.

Next, I recommend you consider the consequences of these failings.

Lastly, when there are upcoming events where it’s a problem should you deliver late, be a little more proactive. Think things through and allocate more time. After all, when everything goes smoothly everybody wins in one way or another.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh