It happened to me last week, and it has probably happened to you. Something you didn’t expect to happen, or were advised wouldn’t happen – did happen. You were whacked by a blind spot! At the time, you do your best to respond in the moment. But afterwards, you can ask – what happened? How come I didn’t see that coming? What could I do differently next time?
When you are driving a vehicle, a blind spot is ‘the areas of road that can’t be seen while driving forward’. They are close by but literally out of our sight . In daily life and work, blind spots are those areas of ourselves that we don’t see, and that others do see. While we may think of this as a problem – and it can be – it is important to recognize that blind spots are inevitable and in fact are a normal by-product of a successful life! We all have our habitual ways of doing things, which we have learned and honed over many years. Much of our cognitive and emotional processes work beneath the level of conscious awareness – or out of our sight – rapidly and automatically recognizing patterns in our environment and directing our behaviour as we go about getting our day. When you are whacked by a blind spot, you can take it as an opportunity to learn and adapt in a way that maybe you just haven’t needed to until now.
Easy to say, but how can you do that?
If you ask for feedback from someone, look for several characteristics in the person.
- someone you like, respect or appreciate; that way you are much more likely to take in what they say
- someone who can be a reliable witness; who saw the specific incident or has seen you in similar recurring situations
- someone who is a bit different, who will offer a fresh point of view
- someone who has no particular axe to grind, or competing agenda
Ask your question in an open ended way, e.g. during xxx kind of situations
- what do you see me doing or saying? not doing or saying?
- how did you feel in response to what I said or did? how do you think others felt? what did you see that makes you say that?
- what did you need in that moment?
- what one request would you have of me?
Then pick one thing you can start to do differently. Something you can start now, that is small, simple, doable and recurs regularly. Create a new habit, a new muscle so that you don’t get whacked again. At least, not until the next learning opportunity comes up!