As a psychologist, I am often asked by people I meet in social situations “So, are you analyzing me right now?” I always answer no, but honestly, I guess I am making judgments about you. Things like:
- Are you likable and fun to talk to—or unresponsive?
- Are you saying things I find interesting—or offensive?
- Are you listening to what I say—or just having a monologue with yourself?
- Am I learning anything new from our conversation— or are you trying to impress me with how smart or talented you are?
I could go on and on, but I probably do have these thoughts in my head, particularly when I meet someone new. AND, honestly, I think many of the people I meet do, too. Or else they have different judgments going on in their heads. Its human nature to “size someone up”, sometimes making positive judgments, negative judgments, a bit of both, or just feeling neutral. What is important here, however, is that the judgments I make are just personal. They are as much about who I am (what I like, what mood I’m in, what is important to me) as they are about you.
Many of us believe that we are particularly good “judges” of character and read others well. We think we can size them up accurately and predict their behavior in the future. I certainly do meet people with lots of emotional intelligence and do think they understand themselves and others very well.
But, as a psychologist, and coach for almost 30 years, I am also quite humble about what I think I know for sure about others. I believe many people see themselves as amateur psychologists; I am too when I am not working. But, when I am in my role as Organizational Psychologist, things are different.
When I am in THAT role, I rely on my knowledge of personality—the latest research as well as the many theories that exist. I use tools that measure personality scientifically. This means more accurately and predictably than my intuition only. I also know a bit about neuroscience, stress and well-being, sociology, the impact of status differentials, leadership, team dynamics, organizational development, human resources, communications, testing and measurement, counseling, positive psychology and many other fields of study, all of which influence how and why others feel, think and behave as they do.
It is precisely this knowledge that we at The Bailey Group bring to our clients that is uniquely useful. Honestly, I am NOT perfect at this. NO ONE is. But, if you need to predict how well someone will “fit” with your organization, we can predict that. If you need to predict if someone will be coachable and develop as leaders, we can predict that. We notice nuances in behavior that may provide new perspectives on what is going on in a team, we can talk about that. If you need to understand why your direct report does the weird things, he/she does, I may even be able to shed some light on that.
I re-read this and am concerned I may sound arrogant. For those that know me, you know that isn’t true. It is just that I have come to realize, more than ever, the importance of really, scientifically (not intuitively) understanding human beings if we are to be successful as leaders in organizations. It is not a NICE to have; it is a MUST have. Yet, that is arguably not what leaders have focused on in all their years of experience. Its what we can bring to coaching—for you and for your people. Give us a call or send me an email, I’d be happy to help.