Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who Are You...Today?

So. You got together over the holidays with the family and within 5 minutes everyone was behaving as expected: The Boss, the Clown, the Vulcan, and the Agitator, all were seeking center stage. Okay. Not the Vulcan. He (she?) was above it all. “Typical.” What is it about relational dynamics, be it with our Significant Other, or our family, or friends, or business partners that produces such a powerful gravitational pull toward reverting to old--and not so useful--behavioral patterns? I suggest that it is the fact that people usually live up or down to our, and their own, expectations.
Some of you are familiar with the case study where two teachers are each given 20 students. Teacher A is told that her students are, academically, average to below average and not to expect too much of them. Teacher B is told that her 20 students are geniuses and that she will probably have difficulty keeping up with them. At the end of the semester, Teacher A’s students all made Cs, whereas the majority of Teacher B’s students made A’s. The teachers were then informed that all 40 students were C students. Just so.
Goethe said, “If you treat an individual ... as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” I think this a tad overstated, but I do believe he is making a valid point here. What if, rather than expecting people to perform and behave as they always have in the past, we constantly choose to let go of old images and allow them to have evolved and matured? Furthermore, what if we greeted them with the expectation (or at least hope) that they were realizing more and more of his or her potential, increasing in wisdom and maturity?
Of course, we can adopt the canard that it is best to have no expectations whatsoever. But then we are saying that we have no beliefs regarding them or their potential, one way or the other: “Just do whatever. I really don’t care.” Wow, thank you so much for your vote of confidence. So inspirational. So thoughtful.  
At the very least, I suggest that, in all of our relationships, we constantly recalibrate: “Who are you … today?” It is in your best self-interest to do so, because, if he has changed, and you haven’t updated your communications, your expectations, and your way of being, then you just may be kept out of the loop in ways that are very costly.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment