Learning to walk in someone else’s shoes or seeing things from their perspective can go a long way in generating harmony between people. However, like many things worth doing, it’s often easier said than done.
Executive Coach Todd Mosetter shares one simple way to help change what you think and feel about those around you.
Hi, everyone. My name is Todd Mosetter. I’m an Executive Coach and Vice President here at Building Champions. And I’d like to take a moment to say thank you for watching the latest video in our Virtual Coaching Tip series.
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So, today I’d love to talk to you about the fatal attribution error. It’s a very common cognitive bias. Which means it affects both how we think and feel about other people, often without us even realizing it in the moment.
So, how about an example? If you find yourself driving and someone cuts you off, it’s easy to think about the fact that they may be rude or disrespectful. But when we cut someone off, too often we think about the situation–we were in a hurry, or we didn’t see the other person.
How about an example from work? If a coworker is late again with a project too often, we might think that they are bad at managing their time, or maybe they aren’t working hard enough.
But when we’re late with a project ourselves, we think about all the competing priorities we’re trying to juggle. And maybe there was a vendor that was late with the deliverable that caused us to be behind. Not exactly our fault.
Left unchecked and unchallenged, these false assumptions about people’s character–who they are–it builds distrust and fuels conflict. And those two things can take even the strongest teams off track.
So, how do we overcome the fatal attribution error? Step number one: assume positive intent.
In other words, think through the other person and just assume that they were trying to do their best. Think through some possible reasons of what may have caused them to take that action.
In other words, assume positive intent and show them the same grace that we often show ourselves. As an added bonus, this can build empathy and emotional intelligence, two key factors for any effective leader.
So the next time you find yourself falling prey to the fatal attribution error, pause and flip the script. Rather than assuming the worst in someone just stop and assume the best. Assume positive intent.
This shift in perspective can make a huge impact in both how we connect with and care for those around us.
Until next time, we’ll see you back here for the next virtual coaching tip.