"What are You Doing?" Confirm your Bias.

“Playing Baseball!” she screamed.

We were playing the game “What Are you Doing?” where one participant does an action, and after a short time, a second participant steps forward and asks “What Are you Doing?”.  The first person names what they are doing and the second has to continue the physical action, but it becomes something different, so “playing baseball” becomes “opening the curtains” becomes “pushing people out of my way” and so on. 

This woman was so excited, had the perfect action all planned out, that she forgot to ask “What are you doing?” and just jumped ahead to the next thing.  It was funny, and the person who started the action shouted back “YES!”.  We all had a good laugh.

I often think that I learn more from facilitating workshops than the participants.  Don’t tell my clients.  I learned a couple of things from this exchange:

·         Confirm your bias.  The word “bias” has negative connotations, I understand that.  And I am not talking about bias that rises to the level of “-ism”.  But we all have experiences that have taught us to expect certain things from certain situations.  At its base, bias is a survival tactic.  So, bias doesn’t HAVE to be a bad thing.  Unconfirmed bias is a bad thing.  Acting only on assumptions is a bad thing.  So the solution?  Call it out.  Name your bias, and don’t be shy about it.  “I’ve been in this situation before, and here’s what happened.  Is that happening again?”.  Let your partner tell you what they mean, where they’re coming from and how the present is different or the same as your past.  “Playing Baseball!”.  “YES!”.

·         Stay in the moment.  Sure, she had skipped a step and made an assumption, but she did so based only on the stimulus she had in front of her.  When she confirmed he assumption, the response from her partner was one of pure joy.  Someone had listened and received exactly what they were trying to communicate.

I think these two lessons are even more important when using digital communication, particularly email.  You can’t read tone and therefore, you miss much of the intent.  Before reacting, send an email back to make sure you understand; or if you do respond, stay in the moment and start with “This is what I think you’re saying…”. 

Joy, however, will never be achieved over email.

GREG.in a tree.jpg

Greg Werstler is the Creative Sales Director, CFO for CSz Business Chicago. Greg has been a proud member of the event industry for 20 years, providing interactive entertainment and innovative training solutions.  In addition to being an emcee and facilitator, Greg is currently enrolled in the MS Management and Organizational Behavior program at Benedictine University.  In life and in business, Greg builds ensembles.