The Voices in Our Heads

Something happened to me today that reminded me why we need to understand the voices all of us have in our heads. I received instructions last week about a project I am working on. In the email were specific instructions about part of the project that had to be completed within 48 hours. Somehow I missed those instructions. The task did get completed but on Monday, but not in the mandated time frame.

I was sending an email back to the person responsible for the project early this morning and reread her email and noticed what I had missed earlier. Needless to say the voices in my head woke up at that point and started yelling, pointing out how badly I had done and convincing me that I had surely blown this opportunity. For the next two hours I allowed my inner voices to punish me. When I finally spoke to the project coordinator she said what she meant was 48 business hours and that it was no problem. Although relieved, it made me think about peoples internal motivations, the voices in their heads.

Often we deal with customers that want things or say things that make little sense to us. This morning reminded me that we all live inside our own heads and that the interactions we have with people are our attempt to share our internal voices. Some people are better at translating that internal voice than others. But to be professional when we are dealing with people we have to be the best at hearing what the other persons internal voices are trying to say. Always identify not only what your customer is saying out loud but also become skilled in what they are not saying, or are saying internally.

During my internal argument I was not at my best handling the other things going on at work. Occasionally we may have a teammate who is usually on point, ready to tackle the next challenge, who all of a sudden seems flat and distracted. As a team manager or fellow teammate we should be careful to identify the problem before wading in with advice or criticism, they may be in a deep discussion with their internal voices and may or may not need your help.

Acknowleging your own internal voice is difficult. Far too often people simply internalize their feelings or ignore what, deep inside they know to be true. The opposite is to listen so much to the voices that you fail to hear the outside world of logic and reason. So the key is to have a balance, listen to the voices, but decide if they are saying something you should pay attention to or something to ignore. The ability to know that difference will change the course of your life.

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