Being Nice is Not Enough
Have you ever met someone who seems to care, who is basically a "nice person," but who doesn't seem to "get you"?
That's how it went with the new president, in a merger situation discussed by Henry Cloud, in his book Integrity. The president was nice. He had good ideas and good intentions, but he didn't "get" people and it eventually cost him his ability to work with the Team.
Here are a few things the president said to various people's questions, in a meeting designed to build trust as the merger began...
"Well, that's not going to be a problem."
"You won't have to worry about that at all."
"That won't get in the way."
"That will work out okay. I think when people get the big picture of what is happening here, they will be happy..."
Essentially, without meaning to, the president invalidated people's experiences. He moved quickly to try to make people feel better, without giving them a chance to really be heard. Says Cloud, "You could feel the air kind of going out of the room." He concludes, "...although [the president] had their attention through his position, he did not have their hearts."
What happens when we don't gain people's hearts?
They become discouraged and unplug. They disconnect, give up, find another place to be heard.
Reading this chapter, I thought of the many times I've said to my kids, "Don't worry about it honey. It's going to be fine." The truth is that everything is not going to be fine if this is how we deal with people's complaints, worries, and hurts. Kids detach. Friends walk away. Employees quit.
Being nice is not enough.
Cloud shares a simple formula for "getting" people (though it may not always be simple in practice! :) ...
They talk >
you experience them >
you share what you've heard and experienced about their experience >
then they experience you as having heard them; they know you are "with" them
None of this may change how you help solve the issue. Or it may totally change how you help solve the issue. Or maybe you'll find that the solution isn't your purview anyway.
The point is connection. And in the end, that's the nicest thing you can do.
Leaf and Branch photo by J Barkat. Used with appreciation. :)
Integrity, opening post