As time progresses, we start to take things for granted. Do you remember in March 2002 when we all started to shelter in place, work exclusively by Zoom, and stopped seeing people in person for work? There was a newness to listing to the sound of children in the background that was both uncomfortable and kind for us to listen to. We knew the parent felt uncomfortable about what was happening and we all pooh-poohed it and moved on.
Now, months later, the sound of children in the background, the appearance of cats and dogs yields less mercy from too many of us and far more annoyance. We want people to handle their personal life like magicians who can wave a magic wand and make a four-year-old suddenly become quiet when s/he wants attention from their parent.
We also take for granted that the one person of color in our meeting knows and understands “the rules” for meeting conduct in a room where they are the only minority present.
Too often, their discomfort in those situations is not noticed.
Too often, the fact that they don’t speak up is misinterpreted.
While the others in the room posture for attention, often, the instinctive defense is to hope for invisibility, not notice.
In both of these situations, we take for granted that others know what we are thinking and can do better than what they are showing us.
Taking for granted is the conclusion upon which our assumptions land and judge others harshly.
Assume everyone wants to do well and that the reason that they are not meeting your expectations is that it is hard for them at that moment. The father on his laptop on the couch with his daughter lying next to him, her feet on the wall, is not a good look for the workplace.
Try moving her and see what happens.
It’s the best that can be done in the moment.
Imagine what it would be like for you as a white person in an all person of color meeting. Would you know the inside jokes? The little cultural asides that come from shared experience?
But we take it for granted that everyone at the meeting does.
That’s our mistake. We need to change us and not expect that of others.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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