One Simple Observation

Tuesday 24 January, 2012

This entry is as brief as the observation it describes. It shows how, if we just observe, we can discover a wealth of information about behaviour and its effects on those around us.

At the beginning of a company workshop I was giving, I spoke about how effective and necessary it can be to challenge people’s behaviour. As I was talking, one attendee arrived late. He apologised and went on to explain that he would have to leave early because he had to prepare for a meeting. Addressing the rest of the group I pointed out that here was a fine example of what I meant. I then challenged the latecomer’s behaviour, telling him there was no need to apologise. In fact there was no need to say anything because it only disturbs the proceedings. This led to a group discussion in which everyone justified the apology for reasons of manners and ‘normal’ behaviour.

I was aware that another member was missing so I asked the group to observe how he behaved when he entered the room. We continued with the workshop and he arrived a few minutes later. He entered the room in the middle of another discussion, said nothing, closed the door, sat down, and when there was a natural pause in the conversation he apologised for being late. I asked the group for their feedback. Everyone commented on the difference between the two behaviours. They saw clearly the respective disruption and lack of disruption each arrival had caused. If the original challenge had not have been made, the behaviour would have been accepted as normal, the chance to observe would have been missed and the learning point lost.

I did little more than highlight a pattern of behaviour. With the awareness heightened by the group discussion, there was nothing more to do than wait for an opportunity to observe what happened with the second arrival. Through that simple example, people examined their own patterns, became more aware of the behaviour of others and saw the effect of that behaviour on their environment. So much from one short, but guided observation. It showed people what they are able see for themselves when they observe what is going on around them. Every day there are countless opportunities to learn from even the simplest of observations.

Related posts: Observe Rather Than Analyse | Simply Observe

3 Responses to “One Simple Observation”

  1. Eveline Says:

    Short and sweet. Although it does leave me to wonder: what is coaching? 🙂

  2. Jonathan Lewis Says:

    Thanks, Eveline. (And very funny! Mischievously so.)

  3. Angela Says:

    Good one.

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