I’m the first to admit, I love fog. I love how it wraps around the land, buildings, and water. I also love it when the fog rolls back and there in all it’s glory is an amazing tree, building, coastline, or view. As fog settles in it creates mystery. And then when it rolls back there is curiosity. How similar is that to our workplaces when we misunderstand each other? One person may have a fog around them. Yet, when we take time to really get to know each other’s strengths then mystery meets curiosity and collaboration.
I was recently working with a client who was frustrated by the seriousness of a colleague. The client so wanted this person to be more enthusiastic, welcoming, energized, and as she said “engaged”. As we looked at her strengths we noted she had many strengths that had all those qualities of energy, positivity, story telling, and loving to network. When we looked at the strengths of her colleague we realized none of those strengths were in her top 10 strengths. In fact, they were all in the bottom five.
My client had wrapped her colleague in fog because of her own strengths. She was judging the colleague based on her strengths. As we revealed the strengths of her colleague it was if the fog lifted. All the sudden the mystery ended and curiosity emerged. We moved to a place of appreciating differences rather than judging.
There is now an opportunity to reframe the connection and collaboration. Will it always be easy? No! And yet, there is a window to appreciate, connect and value the strengths of this colleague.
I recently was on the Architecture Tour on the Chicago River. A big deep fog rolled down the river from Lake Michigan. One of the newest towers was shrouded in fog. The late day light was shining on it in a way that created an opportunity for wonder, awe and curiosity…what was behind the fog? Then, in a moment…the fog lifted and there were three towers.
Next time you are frustrated by a colleague, pause and ask…
What fog have I created around this person?
How might our strengths be different? Where are there opportunities for greater understanding?
What do I want from this relationship and how can lifting the fog help build greater collaboration?