Check Your Blind Spot

My business is built on helping executives and leaders make sure their people feel Seen, Safe, and Valued(C).

I think about this often as I teach undergraduate Organizational Behavior, Human Resources, and Leadership classes; I think about the many times I have personally  witnessed the effects of such leaders ignoring the basic human need to feel SEEN. The catastrophic career effects of a team withholding valuable information, because they feel ignored or betrayed by The Company.  (If you are a leader, YOU are The Company!)  The career-limiting move of treating employees in ways that make them feel unsafe, undervalued, such that they are ready to jump ship at the first opportunity, taking with them your valuable investments in their development… and their institutional knowledge, going to a competitor!

I thought about feeling SEEN this morning as I drove my husband to work. We were on time, and almost there, and not in any particular rush, when another driver cut me off, slicing his way between me and the car in front of me. There was no one behind me, and I was breathless with the utter disrespect of how closely he cut it. Literally stunned – too much so to even honk the horn.

I realized that what I felt emanated from that place within that gets so deeply hurt when we have been ignored, cut off, or disrespected by another person, and I thought again of the effects those feelings of rage and betrayal (“I am aperson and you treated me like this? How could you!”) can have in the workplace.

The person who felt ignored, cut off, or disrespected may manifest their “rage” through rudeness, discourtesy, and subtle disrespect towards peers or leaders. That same person may manifest his or her rage through abusive supervision, bullying, or physical or psychological abuse of others… and we won’t even touch sexual harassment and assault in the workplace here.

My research on antisocial workplace behavior, published in 2014, was really both a start and an end. It was the end of my doctoral study, and the culmination of years of observation. But it was the start of my mission to help ensure that people feel Seen, Safe, and Valued(C) in the workplace, so that one group at a time, we can improve communication and workplace relations.

Oh and that driver? Yes, I did pull up beside him, and make eye contact. I wanted him to see me, to know that he had endangered and disrespected a person (actually two people), not just a car. I have no idea if it made any impact. Perhaps he is that supervisor / leader who treats people rudely, pushing through his day as if no one else matters, until someone pulls up next to him out of his blind spot.

Then I relaxed, fell back, and let him rush on to his destination. And God bless him on his way.