A typewriter? “Yes, I want to write my ideas and create stories on a typewriter”!
That was what my 9-year-old niece wanted as a gift.
Once the difficulty finding the gift was overcome, the moment the typewriter was opened for testing, without the giftee, was memorable. The grown-ups arguing over who would lead the tests and soon after the grandfather’s victory we heard the first (and familiar) clacking. It was quite an event! The eyes sparkled!
Yet, I resort to the family episode to talk about the 'different' in the face of fads and trends.
The influence of trends and fads on an individual’s preferences and behavior is natural. Some surveys are based on how most people think, or behave, to understand a phenomenon. Generations are also defined that way. Group, or collective behavior, brings a lot of information and benefits study and research areas.
On the other hand, we can create labels and accept as true something that may not be. If we consider the generalizations, trends and fads in our relationships, we are at risk of anticipating wants, expectations and passing equivocal judgements. If we look at a person compared to a group, we will inevitably draw a comparison, and the different (what is dissonant) will draw the attention.
What if, in our relationships, we only look at the individual?
Thinking of organizations, I see this theme poses a major challenge. Mostly in those where generalizations still prevail in managing people. Generational labels, for instance. It is common to assume the younger want “this” and the older want “that”. We prejudge all the time, from several aspects. Another example is the expected post-pandemic behavior. Not all want to work remotely. Not everyone wants to become CEO in 1 year.
A possible path for today’s leaders will be to have an individualized view of the team. Increase the frequency of conversations, with more listening and less speaking, and with a genuine interest in the subject.
Listening has been a historic challenge to leaders. A 2021 Harvard Business Review article about how to become a better listener (https://hbr.org/2021/12/how-to-become-a-better-listener) already raised that flag. The article brings a study from 2015 that says that while 78% of all accredited business school list “presenting” as a learning goal, only 11% identify “listening” as a skill to be developed.
That says a lot!
The capacity to listen will be increasingly more valuable. Listening broadens our understanding of the individual and minimizes judgements. It opens us up to the other and facilitates the creation of trust.
That way, it will be possible to know not everyone wants the same thing. That there is always someone delighting over a “typewriter”, while most enjoy the technology hype.
And that is alright!
Daniela Bauab is Senior Associate & COO at BMI Blue Management Institute. Twenty-one years’ experience in Human Resources in the Financial Market. A Master’s candidate in People Management at FGV, with an MBA in Leadership and People Management; specialized in Psychodrama and holding a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. A coach (executive, life & career) graduated from ICI. Volunteer mentor and co-author of books Mulheres do RH Vol. II (Women in HR Vol. II) and Mentores e suas Histórias Inspiradoras (Mentors and Their Inspiring Stories).