We all have them. It is human nature to filter out information and not listen well, so what is the big deal with blind spots? Blind spots can cost you money, relationships, career promotions, health and peace of mind.
As a certified Conversational Intelligence® coach, one of the most impactful distinctions I work with people on is overcoming their own blind spots and working with others to intervene in theirs. Blind spots keep you stuck in many areas of life and business. It is like the proverbial question that plagues you: “No matter what I do, I (fill in the blank).” What I know for certain is that if you could see what to do instead, what you are missing, you would do that. If you have that sort of complaint or question, you definitely have a blind spot. Most of us know that in order to alter anything that we can’t see, we will need someone else to help us discover what the blind spot is and then take new action. A coach or a mentor that you trust is very helpful here.
I want to talk about one blind spot that is very costly and very common. The first one that is uber common is assuming everyone thinks like I do, or at least should think like I do. A hint that you have this blind spot is that you may say things like, “Well, they should (or shouldn’t) have done … (fill in the blank).” Or, “What is wrong with people (or some one person)? Why don’t (or do) they….(fill in the blank).” In other words, you are of the point of view that your opinion of how things should or shouldn’t be is the right one. We also call that an addiction to being right. Two things to note: 1. It is addicting to be right because your brain receives a good neurochemical cocktail that stimulates the reward center when you are right and unconsciously, you will continue the behavior to get the euphoric feeling of being right. This is for all of us, so no need to say, “not me,” or defend yourself. 2. It is unconscious, not purposeful. This blind spot causes big disagreements, interferes with relationships and is one of the most damaging leadership traits there is.
This blind spot doesn’t allow you to see other points of view, thus narrowing the possibilities available to you. As a leader, it shuts down discussion, stunts creativity and diminishes contribution. It does not allow for growth, new solutions or innovation. As a person in any sort of relationship, business or personal, it positions you against one another, leaving other people feeling bad, frustrated, annoyed and diminished.
What to do about it? The first step is admitting there is an issue. Be willing to interrupt yourself. When you hear yourself saying things like I mentioned earlier, the complaint about them, stop yourself and ask yourself if you were looking at the WHOLE picture or simply the one you saw. Then get in a dialogue, get curious, ask questions and listen deeply. When you notice you didn’t fully get it, ask clarifying questions.
It is a habit. It takes time and effort to break. Take the time and put forth the effort and you will be rewarded with more satisfying relationships and likely some new solutions and innovations.