Thursday, November 14, 2013

Abnormal Behavior Works in the Workplace

Will a normal person please stand up? I asked this question during a presentation once in a crowded room of 125 attendees and everyone stood up. I was not surprised. We all think we are ‘normal.’ But what does ‘normal’ really mean? The Webster Dictionary defines normal as average, a typical state or condition; the usual. Would you like to rethink your answer now? Think about the context which ‘normal’ is used. Yes, we want a normal heart rate. Of course, we want a normal weight; but do you really want to behave as an average or usual person?

I was watching a scene on a television show of two co-workers having a private chat that turned into a heated conversation. They were friends as well as colleagues; one of them noticed that the other had become distant and less conversational and decided to confront him about his behavior. She started by saying, “I’m worried about you.”

“Why are you worried? I come to work, do my job, and go home. I give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior. I am being normal. Why are you worried?” Replied the slightly agitated co-worker.

I was halted by the idea that her co-worker thought that he was being ‘normal’ by performing those specific tasks. Here’s a question: Do you give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior? Be honest. These will help… 

When was the last time you overreacted to a situation at work that almost cost you your job, or at least a reprimand?

How did you react during your last performance review when your supervisor told you the areas you needed improvement in?

What did you do when your supervisor showed disapproval or yelled at you in front of other employees? 

Get the idea? Were you being ‘normal’ in any of those situations according to the agitated co-worker? In today’s society, it is not normal to give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior because so few people know how to do it! It’s actually abnormal.  It’s irregular, odd, and even strange. In fact, people view negative behavior as the norm. Is that a shocker? Why else is there so much poor leadership and these people still have jobs? Maybe that’s why the co-worker was worried, because he wasn't acting normal? Hmm….

It’s time to start behaving abnormally. Don’t live up to people’s expectations – be irregular! Here’s how: