A book that I read recently (Crucial Confrontations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler) walks through the process of handling – as you would expect – crucial confrontations. Those events where promises are broken, expectations are violated or behavior is less than acceptable.
One of the points that I found most interesting is the human condition called The Fundamental Attribution Error which states:
Assuming that others do contrary things because it is in their makeup or they actually enjoy doing them and then ignoring any other potential motivational forces is a mistake. Psychologists classify this mistake as an attribution error. And because it happens so consistently across people, times and places, it gets a name all its own. It’s called the Fundamental Attribution Error.
I have done this – and I find myself watching for it now. Do I look at that person and think that they are doing that because it is part of their DNA or because they are intentionally attempting to bother me or is it for other reasons (it often is)?
A common example: Did that person really mean to cut you off, are they a rude person as part of their DNA or was it an honest mistake?
It has slowly changed the way I look at situations and ultimately, how I handle them. I am definitely better for it. As an aside, it is one of the best management books I have ever read.