OK. I’m doing what you told me. How come it’s not working?

In business, we all need to learn how to do things―whether it’s preparing a financial plan, writing a proposal, or participating in a networking event.

Some people make it a badge of honour that they’ve never asked anyone ever how to do anything (and look where they are now!).  That’s for another time.

For the rest of us, if we don’t know how to do something, we find out.  Perhaps through a book, watching a Youtube video, or even going on a training course or hiring a mentor.

The interesting question is:  how come, despite this learning, people are not as good at some things as they think they should be, or as the trainer or mentor thinks they could be, or as good as other people are?

Now, sometimes it is because the provider―the trainer, the mentor, the author―isn’t actually as good as they’re cracked up to be.  The client has no real way of comparing the qualities of competing providers so tends to blame him/herself for not getting it, leaving them without a way forward.

The rest of the time, it is because the provider is good enough at what they do.  But something else is going on.

And that something is that the client businessperson is the agent of their own misfortune.

The question,

          OK.  I’m doing what you told me.  How come it’s not working?

is answered by the zen proverb,

          A person stands in their own shadow and wonders why it is dark.

A person stands in their own shadow and wonders why it is dark.

In other words, the reason that it’s “not working” is that the businessperson is putting obstacles in their own way which stop them moving forward.  Of course, they don’t know they are doing this―it’s all subconscious.  But, just because they are unaware of what’s going on, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

So what are the consequences of this?

1  It follows that more training, mentoring, watching or reading are unlikely to make a difference (unless the first provider really wasn’t that good).  On the whole, people can grasp what are usually quite simple ideas.

2  On the other hand, these businesspeople could do with some help.  They do need to perform better, and there’s no evidence they can’t be better.  They need an intervention to set them on the right path.  They need:

>  to acquire insight into what’s really going on―how are they getting in their own light?―and what they need to do differently.

>  some mentoring/coaching in how to set about doing that.

In my experience, people are far more likely to do things differently if they understand why they should stop doing what they were doing before.  They’re also more likely to accept they had a part in their problem if they understand the underlying psychological mechanisms.

The emotional intelligence at work approach is to add applied psychology and emotional intelligence to a strong business coaching and mentoring approach.

A prime application of this approach is business networking, hence the launch of the emotional intelligence at work Network better initiative.

by Jeremy Marchant, edited 30 april 2019
© 2018 Jeremy Marchant Limited . image: Free images

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