December 1, 2015
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines allocentric as “having one’s interest and attention centered on other persons — (compare to egocentric)”. Important word for me these days. Being ‘other-focused’ is how I am trying to ‘live,’ to think like, to be. Why might that be his perspective? Why might she be doing that? What is the mindset they are working with as they make that decision?
There isn’t a snarky tone to the questions I ask. Or even an eye roll. Things are changing in my head. Maybe it is the space I have had in my life not currently working within a system, but outside of one. Maybe it is the Metta meditation I practice more often now. Maybe it is the travel I have been doing. Seeing varied locales. Experiencing things as the outsider. I was just told in a district near Fredericksburg, Virginia that I was a ‘come here, not from here.’ It’s true. I have an outside point of view.
The ‘deeper dive’ work I am doing with my new book, Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs, asks us all to be more ‘other-focused.’ We spend a lot of time just getting ourselves clear about what we are about. And when we take a breath, it’s great and essential to consider what other people’s ‘filters of perception’ are.
When you are asking “Why do they think that way?” ask yourself:
- What are their past experiences?
- What is their current reality?
- Are they experiencing any personal or family challenges at this time?
- Are they currently coping with a mental health issue?
- Might their generation being different from yours give them a different ‘take’?
- Is there a race, culture or country of origin filter here that you need to acknowledge?
- A socio-economic difference you need to take into account as you consider their point of view?
- A gender difference that could be at play?
- A values or religious belief you need to consider?
As we move into the holiday season and we have many an opportunity for family and friends and travel, as well as a few more deep breaths, and possibly a little more space in our lives, let’s live being ‘allocentric.’ What’s your point of view on this? Happy December.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!
Books are now in a stack. Lots of reading to do. See picture and two more.
The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations From Amazon – “Convening goes beyond facilitating. Convening creates an environment in which all voices are heard, profound exchanges take place, and transformative action results. The heart of this book is the Convening Wheel—a series of nine steps, or aspects, that bring the practices and principles needed for authentic engagement together as a whole. The book provides exercises, stories, and questions to help you master both the inner and outer dimensions of this work—because in convening, the state of the convener is equally as important as the physical preparations.”
Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life From Amazon: “As a psychiatrist, Goulston has seen his share of crazy and he knows from experience that you can’t simply argue it away. The key to handling irrational people is to learn to lean into the crazy—to empathize with it. That radically changes the dynamic and transforms you from a threat into an ally. Talking to Crazy explains this counterintuitive Sanity Cycle and reveals 1) Why people act the way they do 2) How instinctive responses can exacerbate the situation—and what to do instead 3) When to confront a problem and when to walk away 4) How to use a range of proven techniques including Time Travel, the Fish-bowl, and the Belly Roll.”
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”