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#WFH: Has It Been a Long Day?

Let’s look at an example. Suppose it has been a long day. We were up early and in the office and from the time we started work things were just difficult. We couldn’t find a file we needed, our email box was jammed with trivia, our project is behind schedule, our team member sent a text and is sick again, etc. These are all interactions with the objective world, our representation of circumstances and what other people have done. If we are in the “I state,” perhaps we are feeling tired, discouraged and a little anxious. We might be thinking: “I am really stressed. I need a vacation. I really feel exhausted.” If we are in the “me state,” we might be thinking “this is just not fair” or “nothing is going my way”. We might mentally be talking to the team member, the computer or the company with statements like “He/she is sick again. This is the third time this month and it is always on a Friday. He/She knows we have a deadline and we are behind.” Or… “That damn file, I know I saved it somewhere, there is just too much stuff on this hard drive!” Or… “This is not fair, it is not realistic. This project schedule is too much.” In one case we are tuned into ourselves, and in the other case we are listening to the world.

We all go back and forth between the “I “and the “me.” You do and so do the people you work with. Having the ability to listen and respond will put us in a good position to move into intuitive listening. Because the virtual environment lacks cues, we want to be more insightful and perceptive. We want to learn to listen between the lines to what others are saying and to what we are saying to ourselves.

The virtual environment is one of dichotomies and contradictions. We are connected to our team but we are continents away. We are responsible for the outcome, but we can’t observe people’s behavior. We are not supposed to be working, it is 10 PM on a Saturday, but an email just came in and we feel like we must respond. We fluctuate between meeting the demands of self and meeting the demands of the world.

In the virtual environment, the behaviors and tasks that are traditionally considered to be supportive of the company have changed. We don’t go to the office, we can work from almost anywhere and we live in a world that doesn’t start at 9 AM and end at 5 PM. In a traditional environment, the captain runs the ship. In the virtual world, the individual runs his or her own ship. The captain and the crew have changed places. Without the support of the company and management, the virtual workplace cannot exist. The organization provides direction, resources and situations. Management needs to meet and adjust to new and ever-changing circumstances. But it is the individual’s job to steer his/her own ship. Intuitive listening will help us tune into to where our ship is headed.

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