Before I discuss this week’s topic, I’d like to thank you for reading this blog, and thank everyone who shared it on LinkedIn and other social media. I launched WorkFeelsGood.com on April 17, 2017. This is the eleventh post in eleven weeks. For the months of July, August and September I’ll be taking some time off and only posting once per month. Look for new articles around the middle of each month. In October, I’ll be back up to one article per week.
we earn credibility by being reasonable
A quick browse of Internet dictionaries shows that to be credible means to be believed, be convincing, and be able to persuade someone that something will happen or be successful. To be reasonable means to have sound judgement, be fair, sensible and moderate. We realize the benefit of being reasonable when others decide we are credible and start believing us. We earn credibility by being reasonable.
Why does any of this matter? It’s worth knowing the difference between being reasonable and being credible because it helps us understand why we sometimes don’t get what we want at work. By definition, the more credible you are, the more likely you are to get what you want. Money, staff and the attention of leaders are the limited resources that often go to the person who is most credible in the eyes of those who control the resources.
we have control over being reasonable
We don’t have control over what others think or say about our credibility, but we have control over being reasonable. And if we can be reasonable for some period of time, then others may eventually decide that we are credible and help us get what we need to do our jobs. So what does being reasonable look like? Here are three ways we can be reasonable at work.
#1: respecting different opinions
The first thing we can start doing is respecting different opinions. In other articles I’ve said that to respect means to care, and caring is active. Respect without care sounds like, “I respect your opinion, and here is my opinion.” To actually respect and care means to really try to understand someone else’s opinion with an open mind, a mind that is truly willing to be changed. It means to interpret what they say in the best and strongest way so that it supports their opinion. Sure, they may not be as charitable toward you, but the alternative is two people just telling each other their opinions and never agreeing to change. We are reasonable when we can incorporate the best that others have to offer into our own offering.
#2: learning what can change and what cannot
George Bernard Shaw said, “the reasonable person adapts themselves to the world, the unreasonable person tries to adapt the world to themselves.” When we apply this to work, it means learning what can change and what likely won’t change. The more you try to change those things that likely won’t change, the more likely it is that people will see you as unreasonable. We often hear that someone chose a hill to die on. Sometimes the best question we can ask ourselves is, “Am I willing to die on this hill?” If you say yes, it’s best to get a second opinion before you charge up that hill.
#3: learning when to challenge the status quo
I was a little sneaky when I quoted Shaw because I left out a sentence. He actually said, “the reasonable person adapts themselves to the world, the unreasonable person tries to adapt the world to themselves. Hence, all human progress depends on the unreasonable person.” What Shaw meant was that people are often judged to be unreasonable when they are in the midst of challenging the status quo, but are often called heroes, innovators or visionaries when we look back on what they accomplished. Sometimes, we have to take a stand, speak up, and fight for what we think is right. People may see us as unreasonable because they see no problems with the way things are. But if we’re successful, they often admit that it was the right thing to do: reasonable.
And yes, some hills may be worth dying on, even if it means that you have to find another job.