Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of our core conversations on Charlie’s book Start Finishing. This core conversation is a long series where we ask contributors to weigh in on a theme or idea from the book in their own way. Our previous core conversations have been a really powerful way of collaborating around an idea, and we’re excited to begin this new series right in time for the book’s launch! In this first installment, Patricia Bravo talks about working with derailers. Below is a transcription of her video.
In chapter seven of Start Finishing, we learn that sometimes people push against the momentum of our projects and that sometimes that causes us to step off of our path. Charlie describes these people as derailers: really well meaning people that sometimes inadvertently cause us to lose momentum.
He offers five tips for interacting with those individuals in chapter seven, and it got me thinking about the application to the workplace and some of the work that I do (helping leaders sharpen their empathetic edge by using empathy to gain a business advantage). It struck me that there are some practices in that work that might apply here in working with those derailers.
Empathy is about understanding. So if you think about the fact that Charlie has described these derailers as well meaning people who may get in our way, one thing that you can do is consider how you can apply empathy to these derailers. (Tweet this.)
So I recommend three tips in working with these derailers in addition to the five tips that Charlie has recommended.
1. Monitor Your Response
Now, we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve gotten a little frustrated by somebody who has inadvertently derailed our work, and what I recommend is that you really focus on whether you’re responding or reacting.
Sometimes we have a tendency to have a knee jerk reaction and, in cases of working with derailers, I really encourage you to think about responding to them a little bit more thoughtfully. So think about pausing before you speak and giving a bit more thought to what it is that you’re going to say to that individual.
So that’s the first step: respond and monitor your responses.
2. Activate Your Curiosity
Think about influencing or activating your curiosity with those derailers — what might be going on with them? Take some time to get really curious and look past their behavior.
So monitor your response, that’s one, secondly, really get curious and look past their behavior.
3. Leverage Empathetic Listening
The third is: leverage (what I call) empathic listening.
There’s a research article that came out in Harvard Business Review a few years ago that talked about six levels of listening, and empathetic listening actually happens at the fifth level. So it goes beyond what our initial listening activities are and really helps you dive down a little bit further into taking a look at not just what you’re hearing, but observing other cues and clues that are being shared with you as well, such as non-verbal cues. So I encourage you to do that in empathizing with that person who’s showing up as a derailer in the midst of your project.
With these three tips, in combination with Charlie’s five recommendations, you’ll be well on your way to navigating derailers in your project.
I wish you the best in your projects!
Want more information on derailers? Start Finishing, the book that kicked off all of these Core Conversations, is your deeper dive into all aspects of how to turn your ideas into projects, and how to start finishing your best work. In our next conversation, Mike Ambassador Bruny talks about mentors and beneficiaries.