Friday, February 18, 2011

Watching My Wordy Ways

As a business analyst by trade, I swim each day in an ocean of minutiae. My world is made up of facts and words, and as such, I have a virtual red pen in my head. My eyes read over a sentence in a business requirement, a paperback novel, a magazine, a newspaper article, a blog, and as I ingest the content, I see the grammatical errors, misspelled words and misuse of words. While it is a blessing, providing me with a desire to produce professional internal and external documentation for work, it is also a curse.

As a younger woman, much more self-centered, I was inclined to dish out criticism without considering how it might sound to the receiving party. Over the years, I’ve worked hard on my personal and professional communication skills, my delivery of words and my ability to hear criticism. But, no matter how much I improve, I am still a work-in-progress.

Words have power – the power to communicate ideas, to create, to uplift, to cajole, to enlighten, to teach, to entertain, to provoke thought, to inspire action. And, words also have the power to demean, to offend, to insult, to ridicule, to stifle, to abuse, and to incite anger. Whether we desire a world of peace, joy and happiness, an accomplished goal at work or an eternal marriage, we must learn to use restraint of pen and tongue, think before we speak, ponder before sending an email or consult a trusted confidante before acting impulsively.

Most of us would prefer to avoid conflict with others on a daily basis. But, as human beings of unique creation, we will undoubtedly bump into others who do not share our vision or ideals on occasion. How we communicate with and react to others is a personal test for us all.

Am I offended by what you wrote, said or how you behaved? If so, I should take a look at myself, because I certainly have no power to change you. If your words or actions upset me, I must look at your motive. Is there one? Most times, a person’s behavior and words are not designed to harm me. In fact, they may have nothing to do with me. I may’ve just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The English version of The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi offers an outstanding guide by which we may each assess our own shortcomings as we relate to others.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

In my quest to understand how I may best use my words for good, I have identified a pattern, or opportunity, that is recurring in my life, an area in which I need to improve – dealing with micro-managers.

If my manager or other leaders are attempting to micro-manage me, it is important to recognize that the behavior of micro-management is not about me. Micro-management is about control, narcissism, fear, emotional insecurity and ego. states that symptoms of micro-management include:

• Unwillingness to delegate
• Need for overly detailed reporting
• Bullying
• Narcissism
• Perfectionism
• Behavioral dependence upon controlling others
• Hyper-criticism

Life is beyond our control, so the micro-manager, which may be a boss or other type of leader in our lives, feels the need to control all things that may reflect back on her or him. Ironically, micro-managers do not gain devotion and respect from those over whom the leader has stewardship. Rather, they create resentment, lower productivity, disrespect and distrust among their group.

How can I adjust to the feeling of new screws being torqued where perfectly tight screws already exist? I can say a prayer for that person (similar to The Prayer of St. Assisi), pick my battles, and manage my own expectations. I can practice the “art” of communication by choosing my words wisely, practicing love and tolerance of others.

And, what if you are someone who displays the tendencies listed above? Take the “I” out of micro-management, and please just stay out of my way.

"Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."--Karl Marx

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” --Psalms 19:14

“When words are scarce, they are hardly spent in vain.” –William Shakespeare

Word Up, Y’all!

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