I’m Challenging Your Model of the World

9 Oct

Here’s an ‘as it happened’ story for you: Last Friday I was hard at work in the office, it was evening and quite oblivious to me (as I hammered away on my project) that the day was winding down. Seven p.m. comes along and I’m struck with a brilliant idea. I say to the ladies in my office, “Hey, we’ve got time to go over the program you wanted to learn!” Woohoo!  To which they let me know that they were very happy to learn all about it  . . . on Monday.  Woohoo? Oh wait, maybe not.

Another Perspective

It wasn’t till a few days later (while chatting with a friend) that I actually began to understand how I could have wanted to keep working while they wanted to go home. The realization hit me like a ringing alarm: “Hello, Cam! Their definition of success doesn’t relate to working a large number of hours.” So while I feel like success means an 80 hour week, not everyone shares this opinion.

I wasn’t receiving a brush-off. I was simply misunderstanding their model of the world.

Let’s revisit Rapunzel and the Enchantress.  Two different women; two different models of the world; two different towers of belief.

The Enchantress wants to control the things and people she loves – for her, control is a demonstration of love and those who love her in return should accept that behaviour. So she goes off and builds a giant tower, and locks away her adopted daughter. All cause mommy loves her little girl.

For Rapunzel who is stuck up there in the tower, her model of the world consists of what she sees out of that tower window. She witnesses baby birds fly from their mother’s nest, and giants clouds break apart and scatter through the sky, and handsome men pass by who, for some reason, make her want to escape the home she’s always known. Freedom is integral to her definition of love: the freedom to try, the freedom to fail, the freedom to chase hot-stuff princes. Being stuck in that tower is feeling less and less loving, and more and more stifling.

We’ve got two different models of the world, and despite both women craving love and connection, they have completely different ways of expressing and acting upon that need.

So how could they connect with each other’s model of the world? A wonderful colleague of mine, Diane Colbeck is giving a workshop this upcoming November 24th in Embrun, Ontario and it’s all about Communication and perspective shifting. So if you really want to know how to connect with others and learn to work with other’s models – this is an event not to be missed.

But in the meanwhile, here’s a quick tip list to get you started on grasping other people’s world models. (And therefore making your life easier.)

  • Realize your own model: if you don’t know how you work, you’ll never understand why it isn’t congruent (or is congruent) with others. This is a bigger and takes some internal digging, but nevertheless it’s ESSENTIAL.
  •  Say no to judgement. It may be a ‘first-reaction’ response, but judging people won’t get you as far as understanding them.
  • Adjust your lens. Try imagining the other person’s situation . . . maybe they think family is more important than the hours put in at work, or maybe they stop being productive after X number of hours? Why is their model different from yours? What about their situation and background created those differences. Sometimes a little perspective-shifting (imagining life through a different len, even if just in that moment of reflection) brings you a whole lot of understanding.
  • Ask them about their beliefs. If you’re truly baffled, then put on your ‘no judgement hat’ and approach them with an intent to learn more about their model of the world. (Wear the hat, but please, please, don’t start the conversation by saying: “No judgement, but . . .” cause that’s FULL of judgement! Not cool!) Maybe they can tell you about the family photos covering half their desk, or what they feel is most important about life, or if they were a storybook character, who would they be? (Yes, I had to throw in that last one.)  Again, keep that ‘no judgement’ hat on tight, and you’ll learn tons about the people around you, plus how to work with their strengths and values.

These are just a few ideas. It’s really useful to have a list like this in your back pocket, but even better is having someone there to help you look inward, put techniques into action, and share experiences on what makes for excellent communication. Like I said before, Diane (A great coach and friend of Sister Leadership) is putting on a communication workshop in November. So if you think you or your team could benefit from understanding other’s people’s models of the world – customers, students, each other’s etc., then check out her page and get in touch.

In the meanwhile, I’m off in Europe with my son. Together we’re experiencing a whole new model of the world, and wow – so far, very good!

Till next time,



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