The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The problem mindset

Imagine asking the craftsman to come back and redo some of the work he did. Something has gone wrong and you want him to deal with the problem as he was the one responsible for the work in the past.

That craftsman can step in a be curious about the situation, analyze it tell you how much effort it means to repair the problem. Or he can fear that admitting a problem means that he has made an error and start a lengthy discussion on the question of whether his past work was sufficient or not.

The first craftsman looks at the problem and assesses how he can deal with it and come to a satisfying result. His problem mindset is to embrace the problem and search for a solution. The solutions he sees make it possible to either put the problem aside or overcome it.

The second craftsman is immediately concerned by the problem and becomes emotionally attached to it, that is to the desire that the problem goes away. It focuses him on the problem making it an obstacle to deal with before engaging with a solution.

The difference between both mindsets does depend on the individual, but also on the collaboration between all those involved.

It starts with the empathy at least one party needs to have. It is empathy allowing them to see the other party’s perspective and experience. It’s a necessary condition to be able to determine if one trusts the other’s intent and explanations.

What this empathy can achieve is emotional calm for that person and consequently the ability to engage into one’s professionalism and responsibility for doing a job inviting trust.

The emotional calm and engagement into professionalism then open the door for the other party to let go of their emotional implication. If they’ve found themselves seen and heard, it allows them to open up to their responsibility.

This describes a cycle of letting go or embracing one’s emotional involvement, allowing trust to step in, and activating responsibility that then, in turn, enables the same chain of reaction in the other. It is a virtuous cycle, one that enables those involved to use their emotions as a means to regulate their sense of trust and responsibility.

However, if the reaction of trust and responsibility lacks empathy and thus the connection with the other, the cycle easily reverts to generating emotions disabling either party’s ability to think, engage in trust and responsibility. In such a vicious cycle it is more than rational thinking that is missing, it is the individual’s ability to trust and to engage in his responsibility.

Awareness of one’s and the other party’s emotions open the door to embracing existing emotions. It, however, can be challenging. Emotions and their experience trigger the desire for confirmation of the experience or existence of the emotion. When this doesn’t happen people can’t let go. However, this isn’t about confirming that one person is right or wrong, that the emotion is good or bad, or that it is the person’s right to experience it as they do. It Is about the ability to experience the emotion without becoming attached to it or to resist it and sharing this sense with the other.

Words can help, but they aren’t prerequisites. Our bodies and minds have more ways of communicating than words.

As long as your thinking remains focused on the problem it remains attached to an emotion. It’s a moment in time where thinking actually is premature.

If things don’t work out as expected, take a deep breath, step back and get a sense of your own emotions. If you find yourself wondering about trust or responsibility take another breath and sense again what you experience.


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