Светлана Филяева.
Психолог, арт-терапевт.
+7 (985) 777-99-85

"Мы не осмеливаемся не потому, что нечто кажется нам трудным - оно кажется нам трудным потому, что мы не осмеливаемся" Сенека

Книги о психологии женщины. Карьера. "Nice girls don't get the corner office. 101 unconscious mistakes that sabotage their careers" Lois P. Frankel Mistake 2. Playing the game safely and within bounds.

Mistake 2.

Playing the game safely and within bounds.

As an avid but quite average tennis player, I used to hit the ball squarely within bounds for fear of going out and losing the point. In an effort to play safely, I artifically narrowed my playing feild. After a while, it occured to me that I would never win the game playing that way. I had to learn to hit the ball toward the edges of, yet whithin, bounds as if  I ever hoped to win. So I started going outside my comfort zone and found that I actually won more games.

I had the opportunity to use this analogy with a client who was recently promoted to supervisor and getting the feedback she wasn't "proactive" enough.

"How can I be accused of not being proactive?" she wondered. "I do everything I'm  supposed to without being asked. "

Doing everything you are supposed to isn't proactive. It's only doing what you're supposed to. At her new level, management expected her to take more responsibility and make decisions independently. When I suggested this to her, she said she didn't want to overstep her authority, so she ran most important decisions by her supervisor first.

I asked the women if she played tennis and, fortunately, she did. Within moments of using this analogy of playing safe in tennis, she got it. She could understand how she wasn't using all the court available to her. By making assumptions about what would and wouldn't be acceptable to her management, she narrowed her playing feild. Rather than risking hitting the ball out of bounds, she only engaged in behaviors she knew would land the ball squarely within the court.  It wasn't enough for the women's manager, who wanted her team members to take calculated risks and go beyond what was asked of them.

 The same phenomenon plays out in the workplace all the time. Even when a women knows the workplace is a game, she has the tendency to play safe rather than play smart. She obeys all the rules to the letter and expects others to as well. If the policy says don't do it, than it can't be done. If it might upset someone, she doesn't do it. You never want to act unethically, but it is a game - and one you want to win. To do so you have to use the entire field available to you.

In my client's case, she followed my suggestion to ask her manager to help her  define her scope of authority so that she would feel more comfortable taking risks. The manager called me several weeks later and, during the course of conversation about another matter, mentioned that the women was now showing more initiative and meeting her perfomance objectives.



Play the game within bounds, but at the edges.

Write down two rules you interpret narrowly and always follow. Have you seen other people bend this rules? If so, what's happened to them? If nothing, then take the risk of stretching the bounds by broadly, rather than narrowly, interpreting the rules.

If you are not sure something is fair, do it anyway. If you are not sure something is ethical, ask.

If you are called out, don't take it personally - and by all means don't revert to playing safe. Look at it as an opportunity to learn where the edge of the boundary is and how to play to it.