Initial Perceptions in the Workplace
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America celebrates the Fourth of July every year to commemorate the end of the Revolutionary War, our country’s freedom from Great Britain, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

According to History.com, “When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.”

“By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in the bestselling pamphlet ‘Common Sense,’ published by Thomas Paine in early 1776.”

The pamphlet starts out with the words, “Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

As the United States closes offices across the country this coming week to celebrate, our country is at another crossroads. The opening statement of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet could easily apply today as time plays out with our current leadership in Washington, DC. If you take time to study the American Revolutionary War, you will see the main issues were the cost of goods and taxation from Great Britain, which oppressed families who had come to America to develop a country “for the people,” not to make the British Crown and those who were in power supporting them richer.

Often in the workplace mini revolutions break out when employees or employers perceive that something is occurring against them or others. The “wronged” person might discuss and influence others toward their point of view. What action should be taken to determine if there is validity to the claim and something needs to be attuned?

1.   Acknowledge Feelings Before Providing Facts or Taking Offense:

How someone feels often hinders one’s ability to process beyond what appears to be happening. Simple statements such as “I understand how the situation made you feel that way” or “I wish to understand the situation better” or asking questions regarding the derivative of the feelings, such as “What is making you feel this way?” or “Why are you feeling like this?” can show empathy. Demonstrating empathy will help provide a human connection to work through the situation together.

2.   Uncover or Provide Facts:

Ask open-ended questions to uncover facts the claim is based on, such as “How do you know that this happened?” or “How and when did this occur?” If you are a regular subscriber to our blog, you have heard me repeat, “Talk is cheap,” and, “Verify don’t justify.” Visual verification, such as backup documentation or multiple witnesses who have no reason to collaborate, will either substantiate the claim or demonstrate that feelings may not be facts.

3.   Agree to a Process for Resolve:

All parties need to be honest and open to what is required to bring closure to the situation. A plan should be put in place and unanimous buy in to the plan established. This should include taking the issue full circle with no future animosity toward their co-workers or employer.

4.   Move Forward:

After acknowledgment and verification, it no longer matters who was right and who was wrong. All of us have felt wronged or been advised wrongly in life and throughout our careers. The ability to give others the benefit of the doubt, especially when they have been blinded by the influence of others or their own feelings over the truth, will help reunite the team for mutual benefit and success.

The construction workplace is full of emotion “like never before” as our country is politically divided like it was at the time of the revolution. Combined with political opinions are facts of material price escalations, labor shortages, higher taxes, and longer delivery times because of product shortages and other pressures in the workplace and on the home front.

May you move past the feelings, good or bad, of whichever source you get your news from or politicians you align with, and seek the truth. You may find that acknowledging the feelings, uncovering the facts, aligning a process for resolve, and moving forward as “one Nation under God” and not “for allegiance to the government” is beneficial for all of us. If you want to further educate yourself, start by studying the Constitution. You might find it isn’t as antiquated as you think but rather timeless if applied with the intended mutuality. After all, it was written by volunteers: Senate and congressional pay were not introduced until over a decade after its implementation and began with payments to cover workdays missed to attend session meetings (similar to today’s jury duty).

To Knowing the Facts To Protect Your Workplace and Future.

Happy Fourth of July,

Suzanne Breistol

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