Unlikely People – Better Results

Unlikely People – Better Results
Photo Credit:  123RF

This post is part of our 2016 Team Buzz Builder Guest Blogger series. Today we are pleased to introduce you to passionate communication coach, Dawn-Marie Cornett.

You know those movies with the wise but overlooked janitor or gardener? Most of us love a character in a film that quietly goes about their work while noticing everything and occasionally dispensing that all-important bit of advice that saves the day. Why don’t we believe that people like this exist?

We tend to think that only those with specifically relevant knowledge and experience will have value in coming up with new ideas and problem-solving. Have you ever asked someone to be involved in a meeting that seemed to have little ability to contribute?

My son, who is now 24, told me when he was 2 that I was driving the wrong way. He was 2! How would he know where I needed to drive? I had told that tiny person, before we left, what we were going out to do and in what order; and halfway down the on-ramp, I realized he was right. I apologized to him and promised to try to be a better listener.

This one event changed my perspective on how I look for solutions and build teams. In my work, I’ve often run ideas by individuals with no relationship to the projects, sometimes inviting them to meetings precisely because they were naturally outside the box. Simply explaining a situation to a new person can significantly clarify what needs to be done. Their questions and possible confusion can potentially lead to some really creative and productive ideas. Even if their participation is not immediately fruitful, that moment of inclusion can make a difference in their performance of their regular work, because they have a slightly better understanding of the bigger picture.

One particularly humbling experience for me was when I was sure I had the best way to get my own work done, and an unlikely individual tried to share their alternative. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and unwilling to change gears. This brave soul went away and created an example of what she meant. It was brilliant. Not many people have courage like that. She shouldn’t have had to try so hard, but at the very least, she knew she could keep pushing because she had already been invited in with good past results.

The more each person knows about what other people do, the more likely it becomes that unlikely people will have good ideas and effective solutions. It also becomes likely that teams will begin to understand how they can help each other more and will reach out unprompted.

When people are invited into new spaces, even briefly, most of the time something original and unique happens. It may not be the day-saving, sage wisdom of the angelic elderly gardener — but actually, sometimes it will be. Either way, your employees will begin to feel more of a personal investment in the overall success of the business because they understand better how they can help.

And if you are still not convinced, remember the story of the boy who sat watching drivers, firefighters, and police try to figure out how to get an overly-tall truck unstuck from under a bridge. After many attempts to get someone’s attention, the boy was finally able to say, “Why don’t they just let the air out of the tires?”

Sometimes it takes a totally fresh, and unlikely, perspective to make a difference. So, who will you invite to your next meeting?

Dawn-Marie Cornett

Dawn-Marie Cornett has spent more than 20 years helping people learn communication skills and conflict resolution in both their personal and business lives. She’s given talks and seminars throughout the US and Canada on topics such as self-care and understanding, partner and family communication skills, productive communication across corporate silos, creating harmony and cooperation in an increasingly diverse workplace, and more. Her passion for her work has led her to spend much of her volunteer time helping young people learn to know and appreciate themselves and how to use that productively in all their work and relationships. 

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