During a recent Global Leadership review meeting, I was part of a working group that had designed a proposal on one of the global priorities for the year. While the presentation was underway, the group was abruptly interrupted with a question by one of the members from the reviewing committee.

The committee member was playing the devil’s advocate in trying to poke holes in the proposal. This exchange went back and forth moving the conversation from being hopeful and positive to becoming negative and pessimistic. Though there was positive intent behind the questioning and constructive criticism, why did everyone feel a so dejected at the end of the presentation?

It felt as though the committee member had crossed a thin line between playing devil’s advocate and being pessimistic.

As I started thinking more about this, I realized that I had other thin ‘tolerance’ lines drawn between things like, being casual & informal at work; being assertive & being a pushover; being emotional & being governed by it; directional & being directive … the list went on!

Ever wondered what brings these psychological tolerance thin lines into our lives?

  1. What are my thin lines?

Our psychological framework has inherently defined the white, black and grey areas in our minds based on our values, beliefs and experiences. Gain awareness of where your lines lie and why!

During a coaching conversation with Ash, she uncovered that, at work she was more casual than needed….using it as a coping mechanism to make herself comfortable with her new team..

2. Should I have a thin line?

Question the rationale of why your thin line is calibrated at where it is, and if that is justified?

As I was discussing with Sandeep about the thin line earlier this week, he was telling me that he feels it’s vital to be aggressive, because that was how he got results during his previous sales job.

3. Is my thin line THE thin line?

Can I impose my morals on others? Can I impose my values on others? Likewise, can I impose my thin lines on others? Each person is psychologically and intellectually wired differently, and their thin line calibration may differ from ours. It’s important to start at a safe point and then calibrate yourself accordingly as your relationship with the individual develops.

To effectively manage her team, Cathy started with a directing strategy, progressed on to consulting after a few months, then coaching and then empowering them depending on the way the team members responded.

‘I want, by understanding myself, to understand others’ — Katherine Mansfield

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Founder & Executive Coach at ZENESSE.in