Over the years, you probably have put together an Excel spreadsheet or two in order to analyze a business or technical issue. Of course, we don’t really need that data to make a decision; but, our decisions are usually better and often faster!

So why don’t we develop a similar set of data when we need to figure out a key person in our work or life? Because…

  1. It requires a lot more rigor and effort to pull that dataset together,
  2. Looking at a spreadsheet of human data often requires much harder thinking,
  3. And, we just never were taught to follow that process.

It is much easier to jump to conclusions based on the data stored in our brains…and we’ve talked about how easy it is to LEAP to an emotionally charged decision (see Who Decides Who’s Funny).

Take Lisa  who drives me a little nutty.  She is a blend of colleagues and clients. In otherwords, she is not you! Lisa is very smart, but highly  critical and egotistical, a bit arrogant and a little narcisistic. When we’re with a key stakeholder, she turns on the charm and is mesmerizing and brilliant. Our strengths are very complementary or I wouldn’t work with her. But, she makes me furious and  anxious;  and she drains me at the worst of times. My judgment flares (stopping my thinking brain in its tracks) and my resistance to her goes up like a brick wall.

What to do? Breathe and observe.I actually take my own advice and sit down with a pad of paper and “noodle” about what facts and observations I have and how I can think what I can do differently. Here’s the quicky example of how to do this. Ask your self what you know and don’t know about Lisa.

What do  I know about Lisa?

  • Her father is a surgeon in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • She went to Harvard for her MBA, not sure on undergrad degree.
  • She is the primary breadwinner–her husband is a writer.
  • She has worked in Europe and Asia longer than in the U.S.
  • In meetings, she might say “we’re completely off track here” or “”this is going to take a lot of work.”
  • For every idea I put out to her, she has a way to “build and make that better.”

What do I not know?

  • How she has made decisions on schools and career.
  • Whether she is financially pressured to perform.
  • How she declares something successful or excellent.
  • How performance was viewed in her family and what expectations were set.
  • Why she likes to work with me if she is so critical.

And of course,there’s more in both categories.

Now here’s the question to you? What patterns or threads can you pull through this short dataset to begin to think differently about Lisa? What questions do you have about her? Do you know any Lisa’s? Post your comments below–and I’ll send you a Human Database Tool!

Next week, I’ll pull the thread using my own and your thinking and develop some pathways to success with Lisa.

To all of you in the U.S.–have a great Labor Day holiday!

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