A wise person once told me, “When people show you their true colors, believe them.”

Why is it that so often – in personal relationships, in hiring decisions, in business deals… –we see what we want to see instead of what’s really being revealed to us?  How many times do we make hiring decisions with the hope that the skills lacking could be developed on the job?  How often do we enter relationships hoping from the onset that we can change the other person?

First impressions are usually very good indicators, and trusting your instincts can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Does a person fail to shake your hand upon meeting you?  That is instinctive for outgoing people, not an oversight; this is likely not going to be your lead sales guy.  Did the candidate know anything about your organization before the interview?  If she fails to prepare for an interview, how will she prepare for a client meeting?  If an administrative assistant misspells a word on her résumé, why would you be surprised to see typos in an important presentation down the road?  If a colleague dominates every conversation with stories about his own successes, is it realistic to expect that he will have your best interest at heart when negotiating a shared deal?

We all know that it is foolish to think a cat’s spots will change if it gets wet.  So why do we hold out hope that this will happen in real life?

I’m not saying that we should write people off with their shortcomings.  Quite the contrary.  We are all imperfect beings, and as such, we are called to show each other grace.  Part of showing grace is understanding an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and not expecting them to be something they are not.  At TechSoft Systems, I try to search for the strengths of an individual and position them for success in an area that lets them apply those strengths.  This concept is reinforced by decades of research from Tom Rath and his team in Strengths Finder 2.0.  If we are all working in the areas of our strengths, we will all be happier and more productive.  In some ways, this is the business application of, “Keep on the sunny side.”

On the flip side, if an employee – or the person with whom you find yourself in any type of relationship – simply isn’t working out, ask yourself if your expectations of that person were ever reasonable to begin with; perhaps you were the one with the poor judgment from the start.  It’s possible that by adjusting your expectations and shifting your perspective to focus on his or her strengths, the relationship could be mended.

If the shift in perspective is too costly – from a business or emotional standpoint ­– then know when to call it.  Expecting someone to become something they are not is unfair to both of you.

–Clifford A. Bailey
CEO, TechSoft Systems

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 6:00 am and is filed under Business Development, Change Management, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, S.H.A.P.E., Success. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.