The People Management function, like any environment in which different personalities try to integrate to achieve something, can be fraught with petty squabbles, confrontations and power plays.
According to Byron Katie, in her book “Loving What Is”, it does not have to be that way.
Byron Katie had been on a downward spiral, refusing to leave her home, to wash or eat and venting her fury at everyone around her. It culminated in a period of stay at a halfway house for people with eating disorders.
One morning, she awoke to the realisation that she no longer knew who she was, while experiencing a profound feeling of joy. This led her to further understand that her thoughts were the root of all her suffering and to create a method of self-enquiry called ‘The Work‘ to help others free themselves from their thoughts.
The Four Questions
At the heart of ‘The Work‘ are four deceptively simple questions that, when answered honestly, can challenge and free us from the thoughts that lie behind our feelings in painful situations.
Once the thoughts have been isolated, the questions are:
- Is this true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (At first, the truth behind the thought might seem self-evident, so this second question helps the person to reflect more deeply)
- How do you react when you think the thought?
- Who would you be without that thought?
Following the four questions, Byron poses the ‘Turnaround‘, one or more ways of reframing the thought. This can often highlight a psychological phenomenon known as ‘projection‘, where we attribute our own motivations to other people.
The four questions and turnaround can be easily written or printed on a card as a reminder throughout the day.
Judging your Neighbour
To help isolate the core thought/s behind our feelings, Byron has created a ‘Judge your Neighbour‘ worksheet. To take an example from the workplace, recall a situation where you felt hurt or angry.
In my fictitious example, a manager has told my supervisor to demand I work faster to meet my targets without asking for my (perfectly valid) reasons for being behind schedule.
After working through the ‘Judge your Neighbour‘ worksheet, I might identify the thought that my manager does not respect me. This thought would then be subjected to the four questions and turnaround.
An example response might be:
- Is this true? Yes (no-one would treat someone in that way if they respected them)
- Can you absolutely know it’s true? No: I can’t read their mind and it could be their way of dealing with stress
- How do you react when you believe the thought? I feel hurt and angry. I respond defensively
- Who would you be without that thought? A more relaxed and understanding person realising we are all working on the same team and that targets cause people stress that affects their behaviour.
Finally, the turnaround has at least two possibilities.
Perhaps it is me who does not respect my manager or perhaps I am lacking in self-respect.
By trying Byron’s examples in real-life scenarios in the organisation, perhaps we can all learn – loving what is in HR!
© New To HR