Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pennies and dollars

"Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back." - Thomas Sowell

Politeness, I think, many of us understand fairly well. Consideration? Not sure. Suppose, you walk into a room full of strangers who are busy with something and nobody raises their head to acknowledge that you have walked in. How does that feel? It feels weird. Is it not? I say those people did not show any consideration to you at all. Not saying that they did anything wrong. But, consideration was not there. If even one of them raises their head, looks at you and smiles at you, you feel so much better. Now they have shown you some consideration. I write about this because this comes to my mind as one very common situation when we miss showing consideration to others.

Granted, you are very busy with something. But, taking a moment to acknowledge the stranger and asking a simple question 'how may I help you?' goes a long way. The stranger may have a simple question. Or he may be lost in the building or something. It is hard for him or her to face a group of strangers who seem to be very busy with something.

Another thing is we also have to be careful so that we do not feel that we did not get any consideration at all. Sometimes we are not sensitive to people's schedule and drop in without any announcement or prior appointment. That upsets people. If you develop such a habit, people think showing no consideration to you is the only way to get rid of you. So, plan your work  and the time you need from others. If you work that way, chances are good that you will receive consideration. "Your lack of planning does not constitute urgency on my part."

Another aspect of consideration is what  I call consideration from facilitators and leaders. Sometimes as a meeting facilitator you have to make it a point to remember quieter type of people of the group.You have to make an extra effort to bring such people into dialog. They appreciate that too. Just prod them gently and they will open up. If you, as a meeting facilitator, do not show this consideration, then you are going to miss on important inputs that quieter people may have. It is for you to lose. You may only get the inputs of loud mouthed people which may lead to biased decision making.

Another aspect of consideration is remembering and acting on your promises. If you commit to doing something for someone, either deliver as committed or renegotiate your commitment well in advance. We all make commitments in good faith. Sometimes after we start working on them, they seem to take longer. That's the time to stop what we are doing and spend the necessary time to renegotiate our commitment. If we do not take time to do that, we may blow up our commitment and that will be sure lack of consideration. In a way, it is better to factor in time for such items in the original commitment.

Acknowledge, acknowledge and acknowledge.....that's the heart of consideration. People do not care much if you agree or disagree with them. What they care for is your acknowledgement. If you hear other person's point  and make sure that they know that you have heard them, that's acknowledgement. This simple act is a big consideration. One thing to be careful about is to make sure that they understand the difference between acknowledgement and agreement. They are different. Many times people see that you have acknowledged and mistakenly assume that you have agreed too. Be clear about it. Even when you are making a case for something, be sure to get what you want - mere acknowledgement or agreement. If you are looking for agreement, be sure to ask for it explicitly than assuming that if people have not contradicted you means that they have agreed.


Powered by Qumana

No comments: