When Someone’s Behavior Leaves You In the Dark
My daughter Sophie reported that climbing Masada (she ran up the Snake Path in 25 minutes!) was one of her favorite experiences of our recent family trip to Israel.
For my son Jacob, it was the Ayalon Institute, a secret bullet factory built underneath a kibbutz.
My husband Michael and I told the kids that we adored visiting Yad Lakashish, a non-profit organization that empowers nearly 300 elderly Jerusalem residents on a daily basis by putting them to work as artisans. (Our real favorite part of the trip was how well the kids got along with one another, but we’re keeping that to ourselves.)
But one experience made it to the top of everyone’s list: our dinner at Nalagaat Blackout Restaurant. So awe-inspiring, in fact, that the lessons we learned there keep growing – and yes, this is my second article about it.
If you recall, our family had the opportunity to experience a totally dark dinner served by blind and visually-impaired waitstaff. What surprised all of us the most was that our eyes never adjusted. Not even a little bit. It was pitch black, all the time, with no relief.
When I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to be completely in the dark until I left, I realized how many of us work with or know people whose behavior leaves us in the dark – and that far too often, we sit there waiting for something to shed light on their behavior. And that light never comes.
What do you do when you work with someone you don’t trust? Whose intentions you can’t see or whose behaviors blindside you?
Working with someone you don’t trust is like sitting in total darkness. You are desperate to see something – anything – that can help you figure out what to do next, say now, or even believe about yourself and your situation. You realize that you need to trade vulnerability for vigilance. You realize that you need to shrink your expectations from thriving to surviving. And all of that can impair the quality of your work as well as your confidence.
There’s no easy fix for working with someone you don’t trust, where you can’t see how to proceed next. But here’s what I did at Nalagaat to adjust my expectations and behaviors in the dark, once I realized that my situation wasn’t going to adjust.
I stopped blaming myself (and my eyes) for not being able to see in this situation.
I acknowledged that I had two options: 1) stay and figure out how to make this work to the best of my abilities or 2) get up and leave.
I adjusted my expectations of what I would be able to accomplish in the dark (from “enjoying a lovely meal” to “emerging without cutting myself or wearing my meal.”)
I asked for help from my team (family) for things with which, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t need to ask for help.
I offered help, unsolicited.
I recognized that each of us was struggling – both together and individually – with the circumstances.
I made small movements and sought frequent feedback from my team and from the environment as to how I was doing.
I offered positive, reinforcing feedback to the team.
I gave myself positive self-talk throughout the meal.
I took all advice from the waitstaff, who were experts in how to manage this situation.
And probably most importantly, I reminded myself that the darkness wasn’t being dark to make me angry, endangered or frustrated. It wasn’t personal. The darkness was just being what it was, and I just happened to be there for it.
Could you use a little more light shed on how to create a culture that instills a sense of trust? Join us for our webinar on Creating a Culture of Trust.