One more patience?

I heard a little story this morning about a woman who, frazzled by her child’s lack of co-operation stated firmly that she had run out of patience to which her daughter replied (holding up a her chubby index finger): “Don’t you have one more patience, mommy?”

In negotiation, patience can be defined as “the ability to withstand the costs of a temporary impasse” which in turn translates into bargaining power. For the mother, running out of patience, meant succumbing to either her daughter’s misguided behavior or to her own explosive reaction, quite likely a lose/lose scenario.

When we are working with people in teams our ability to manage our needs and wants can have a dramatic impact on organizational success. Artful leadership is all about balance, generosity and strength of vision. Yet so many organizations and teams are led by tyrannical managers who misuse their power to get their way. Our culture is a particularly impatient one. Because of this, we ambush creativity, restrict input, settle on mediocrity, ignore robust disagreement and when all else fails threaten those around us.

The child disarmed the conflict by questioning the obvious: What’s the rush?

Patience is power, bargaining power. By withstanding the temporary impasse, by not rushing to push our agenda through, we make room for innovative ideas to emerge

random act of kindness

Do yourself a favour – Commit a random act of kindness!

I have been using random words to spark fresh perspectives and solutions. Last week, as part of a large HR retreat, I had each breakout team use a random word to kick off strategy discussions. My intention was to have people enter the dialogue from a completely different and unexpected place. Random words help you do that. So…how to:

  1. Determine the essence of your problem, challenge, issue, need. For example: How can I commit more random acts of kindness in the work place?
  2. Select a random word. I have a gigantic list that I use. Nouns are great. You might also try one of the many random word generating websites where you can also learn other ways of applying the exercise.
  3. Stick with the word you get. I got jetliner. Take some time to describe/highlight the qualities and principles of the word: Goes fast. Takes you where you need to go. Consumes too much fuel. Brings loved ones together. Seat sales. Above the crowd. Close to heaven… (you get the idea).
  4. Next apply the principles to your challenge. Look for creative ideas, associations and solutions. NOT ANSWERS. At least not yet.
  5. So in terms of my issue are there any links? How about creating opportunities for conversation corners where people can gather in a comfortable place. Or maybe I commit to decreasing wait times for delivery…You get the idea.
  6. Select another random word and do the same. Try about 5 or 6 words for the same challenge. Work with your team and really have some fun. Once you have come up with a bunch of associations and ideas you can turn your mind over to evaluation and finally implementation.

So where does the kindness piece enter this equation? People are bored. People want to be creative and explore territories and concepts not previously considered. Our insistence on coming up with the right answer has stifled the creative expression of countless teams and individuals. Next time you sit down with a problem delight your colleagues with a fresh approach, you will be amazed at the creative ideas such randomness generates.