There are three key things to remember about your memories.
Firstly you remember the important things. You cannot hope to remember everything in life. Your brain will make a decision to remember the important things you need to know. Items deemed a lower priority are more likely to get the chop.
Secondly everything we see, hear, touch or experience has a filter. We live through any given moment but it then instantly becomes a memory. How you remember that memory is filtered by your biases, desires and overall mood.
Thirdly, replaying a memory on repeat makes it more real. Seriously. If you misremember something because of either of the above points, the more you repeat it, even falsely, in your mind, the more real it becomes.
What does this have to do with work or coaching? Often when I’m discussing work issues with clients their recollection of a conversation, versus that of a peer, leads to a conflict. A colleague is incompetent for forgetting a task you discussed. A boss doesn’t respect you because they didn’t execute the follow-up task. A peer is out to sabotage you because they are pursuing a different path than agreed.
When something goes wrong. Stop for a moment. Even if you know you are in the right. Even if you know that you made that request to your colleague. What good is being right?
Rather than focussing on the mistake and being right or proportioning blame, look at how do you prevent it from occurring again. There are usually two key questions to ask yourself here: (remember above)
- Did the colleague understand the importance?
- What else is the colleague working on? Understanding their bias, overall mood, context & workload will help prevent a recurrence.
I’d also add a friendly reminder that you may be falling prey to point 3. You may very well be misremembering and could be incorrect, but you’ve played it over in your mind so often you have convinced yourself you are correct.
There is no value in having an argument about the past or getting upset by it. Remove your ego. You might be wrong. They might be right. Ultimately what matters is getting on with the job, not assigning blame. That means having a conversation outlining why the task was important and understanding the bias and context your colleague is working under. Neither of which you will get from an argument.
Robbie Stakelum is a professional and life coach. If you’d like to learn more about his practice or enquire about a coaching session visit Colloquium Coaching. You can also follow his journey and insights on Robbie’s Instagram for daily updates, stories & IGTV videos.