November 23, 2008

Crying Out with Social Insecurity

Now that I'm facilitating retreats and coaching on a regular basis, human behavior is becoming as interesting as organizational development. In fact, I believe the two are linked.

I am especially interested in folks who are driven to undermine themselves and their organizations. Sounds harsh but I'm seeing it regularly. In coaching there is a concept called Limiting Beliefs. These are negative and undermining thoughts that directly connected with your core values, even if they are in direct conflict with your goals. Limiting beliefs need to be explored and hopefully dispelled if you want to reach your goals.

What I am now interested in is what compels people to derail meetings by trying to make others fearful. Is it control? Power? Ego? Actually, it seems to come down to insecurity. I've always been dazzled or perhaps dazed by people who are loud, critical and negative. In the past I've interpreted this behavior as power and security. After much exploration I now realize it is really insecurity that drives their actions. In fact, it can tip over into bullying quite quickly.

I don't have a psychology degree but what I do recognize amongst these folks is the need for attention. If they say something outrageous they immediately get our attention, even if it is negative attention. It is like they are crying out to be noticed, literally. Within an organization these people often, mysteriously rise to the top. Perhaps others step aside to avoid conflict?

As a facilitator and coach I focus on solutions. As these folks raise their endless criticisms and complaints I reflect on the goal and how these negative comments aren't getting us closer to what we've all agreed needs to be accomplished. It is a constant test of my "power" in the facilitation, and as the meeting leader I do have to hold that space. Plus, I need to ensure that the other folks, who may have fantastic contributions to make to the organization, are not derailed and disillusioned. It is become an easier task as I practice stepping back and not to getting all wrapped up in their issues.

In the past I would have taken their comments to heart - even as personal attacks. Now I know that they are just crying out to be heard.