When I’m working with a small business owner, I like to notice how he or she evaluates a situation, particularly a dysfunctional or non-productive one. When things aren’t going well, we tend focus on ourselves. We notice how our views and our approaches are different than those of others. In doing this—whether consciously or not—we separate ourselves not only from other people but also from opportunities to make the most of the common ground among us. The things that bug us about others are often a reflection of our own issues. The lesson is that we are always much more alike than we are different, regardless of whether we choose to notice it or not.
The next time you find yourself getting hung up, ask yourself, "What about this situation or these people reminds me of me?" Actively seeking out and identifying the similarities among employees, clients, or situations is simply good leadership.
The next time you have to solve a problem—whether it’s a dispute, negotiation, or even an ineffective situation—find the similarities among the views. There you will sow the seeds of the solution.