Taking it like a man

My partner David said early on in our relationship, “you’ve got a lot of boy in you”.  He meant that I have a lot of typically male characteristics and he likes that part of me!

Recently the “male” part of me was put to the test.  David and I have swapped roles this year – David has left his big, well paid, full-time job to take up 3 casual roles while I have done the exact opposite.  We are both still adjusting to the change and it has been more challenging that I had anticipated.  I’ve found that I am having trouble transitioning from “work Judy” to “home Judy”.  I mince around at work all day, solving problems, being social, making a difference and then I come home to pick Bella’s clothes off the floor and tidy the kitchen!

David and I sat down last night to discuss how we were both feeling about this.  I was amazed when David suggested that I was experiencing what men experience when they come home after a day at work.  Typically, David would spend his day at work solving problems, building relationships with sheiks in the Middle East and being the man.  Then he would come home to me asking for the rubbish to be emptied!

What is the solution, I wondered.  David reminded me that each afternoon when he left work he would ring and ask me if we needed anything at the shop.  I wondered why he did this as we rarely needed anything.  Apparently this was David’s way of transitioning from work to home.  The visit to the shop helped him move from “work David” to “home David”

I’m not surprised that this works as my favourite change model by William Bridges suggests that between the old and the new you need to go through a transition phase.  When I return to work after the holiday break I will make sure that I use a transition between work and home.  I’ll let you know how I go…

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The “Other”

I have come to the conclusion, via age and experience, that it is more productive to surround myself with like-minded people.  It makes life easier and more enriching, I think.  Social media allow us to do this with the click of a button as we friend, follow and link with people who are like us in some way.  Our conversations are stimulating and energised but are they challenging in terms of seeking to understand the “other”?  Has social media allowed us to avoid other points of view in favour of celebrating our own.  What are the risks with this on a personal level, on a national level and on a global level?

Elizabeth Lesser, in a thought-provoking TED talk called “Take the Other to Lunch” looks at her own life as part mystic (grace), part warrior (grit)  The latter seeks to get on with things and focuses on the now whilst the former asks “what are we missing?”  She wonders if the circle we draw around ourselves (our family, friends, followers) is too small and too similar and may contribute towards the “demonisation” or “otherisation” of those with different viewpoints to our own.

Her talk inspires us to take someone whose point of view makes “smoke come out of our ears” to lunch so we can find out what is really in each others’ hearts.  When Elizabeth Lesser did this herself (she, being left-wing, invited a right-wing supporter) she found out the generic labels that are assigned to others do not represent those people as individuals.  She does argue that the intention of taking the other to lunch is not to change their worldview or to expect differences to melt away just to meet them in a neutral space and explore.

This had made me rethink my own point of view.  I don’t know if I’m ready to take an “other” to lunch (my views are pretty strong) just yet but once I work on my ability to not get defensive and to just listen I might give it a go. 

Who would you take to lunch and why?

Are all your social networks like you in some way?

What would you need to do to prepare for a lunch with the “other”?

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Wife Swap

I’ve been watching the show “Wife Swap” (there is also a US version) I really enjoy it because it looks at behaviour change. The idea is that two wives from very different families (in terms of values, beliefs and behaviour) swap homes for two weeks. The first week, the wife lives by the host family rules and the second week, the host family experience the wife’s rules.

Once you get past the tantrums, tirades and general trauma (it is reality TV after all) there are some very interesting messages in there. The outcome seems to be an epiphany on the part of each wife as they realise that there are aspects in their own lives that they could change. The experience of living with another family turns out to be an opportunity to hold the mirror up to themselves and their own behaviour.
Once back at their own home they generally introduce some change to their lives. So, the mother who was not spending a lot of time with her children decides to make some changes so that more time can be spent with the family. On the other side, the mother that was at home full time may investigate a part time job as a way to regain her life. In this way, the changes are based on the experiences from the swap.

I’ve decided that this idea can be applied to my own recent job hunting experience. I’m proposing a “Job Swap” where the applicant and the internal or external recruitment consultant swap roles to gain some insight into each other’s experiences.

Here is what I imagine the discoveries would be…

The recruitment consultant (who has spent time as the applicant)

1. Being an applicant is hard work!
2. Applicants are human beings and need to be treated with respect
3. Never lie to an applicant and never promise what you can’t deliver
4. Communicate constantly throughout the recruitment process
5. Offer jobs with enthusiasm, not concern
6. Never leave a phone message advising an applicant that they have been unsuccessful at interview
7. Take the time to provide meaningful feedback to the applicant

The applicant (who has spent time as the recruitment consultant)

1. Being a recruitment consultant is hard work!
2. It’s easy to forget that applicants are human beings rather than bodies to plug into roles
3. I’m often unsure of the length of the process – it’s easier to make promises and keep applicants happy even if we know we can’t deliver
4. We have several application processes at once and it is hard to keep track of them all
5. Just because I’m in recruitment doesn’t mean I am an expert at the people side of the process
6. It’s hard to let someone down and easier to leave a phone message
7. Once a recruitment process is complete, I’m ready to move onto the next one

It sounds a bit like the “War On People Versus Process” doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing, maybe you do need to swap homes and wives to see how other people live but you don’t need to swap jobs to understand what is important. If you follow three simple clues below when dealing with people in any business context you will always come out on top.

-treat people with respect and apply basic good manners to all interactions
-apply common sense to all your dealings
-never, ever let a process become more important that the people involved

Forget about swapping jobs – measure yourself against the clues.

How did you score?