Behavior begins with your thoughts

Grace and Oliver purposely strive to ignore each other. And that’s what I find many co-workers do when they don’t understand each other. Rather than work through an issue, the tendency is to avoid it, often getting more and more frustrated by the other one. This picture was taken on one rare occasion when these stubborn siblings were within arm’s length, but it still doesn’t mean they were communicating very well.

Instinct. That’s what everyone said was the reason Grace acted so differently than I expected last week when she darted after that innocent bunny.

She and I were worlds apart. But it was just her instinct to chase and mine to protect.

I thought a lot about that incident in relation to people in the workplace. I’ve been working with a person on a project recently and she approaches the work very differently than I would. Her way is not wrong. But it can easily irritate me because it takes more effort and time to get things done.

While on my walks with Grace recently, I spent some of time thinking about how to view the situation through her lens. I know she and I are trying to accomplish the same thing and I also know that we have very similar beliefs about the project. So it should be going seamlessly. But it’s not. Ever been in that situation?

Today, I realized that she and I are about as far away as Grace and I were on how we’d welcome a rabbit into our neighborhood.

In spite of my sadness and horror, I found a way to understand Grace and her motives last week, now I felt like I had the capacity to figure out what was going on with this person causing me some angst. And just that shift — to honestly, and seriously, try to understand her, made a complete difference. Now I can see that over the past few weeks, I told myself I was trying, but I really wasn’t. Instead of being open, my thoughts had kept returning to my frustration. What I was really trying to do was figure out a way for her to see my way.

But when I felt that shift today, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. But even more than that, I found that I could allow her methods to easily enter into the process, while at the same time being able to voice my own thoughts, very clearly and openly. And none of it felt heavy or charged with emotion. It was balanced.

Once again, Grace helped me think through a situation that happened to us, and it helped me apply it to a new context.

Shift your thoughts and your behavior will change, too.

Now if only Oliver and Grace would listen to me.


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  1. LeeAnn on March 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Robin – I love the statement – “shift your thoughts and your behavior will change, too.” It is so true – but not easy to do. Congratulations on recognizing that you needed to do it and keeping at it until you did it. I love the picture of Grace and Oliver. To me, it looks like it could erupt any second. I have lived moments like those. : )

    • Robin on March 29, 2012 at 6:23 am

      I laughed out loud on the “erupt any second” observation. Yes, indeed, so true!

  2. Lionel Lloyd on April 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    They way I have rationalized Sia’s instinctual behavior is that she feels that she is contributing to the pack. whether it is chasing a squirrel or barking at a stranger, she thinks that it is her job as a pack member to do so.

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