Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
Friend or foe? Can one ever really know?
In today's fast-paced, rough and tumble work environment, not only are the tides of fortune and personal and professional alliances constantly shifting, but your initial assessment of an individual, group, company relationship or situation may be completely incorrect (to your detriment).
So what can be done about this and how can you get a better if not more accurate read on the people, situations and relationships around you?
The key to this is to develop or enhance your situational awareness, both passive
and active modes. Situational awareness is, in fact, a critical skill that will serve you well throughout both your personal and professional life.
So what exactly situational awareness?
"Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you."
(source: http://www.uscg.mil/auxiliary/training/tct/chap5.pdf )
The trick then is to develop this skill on both a passive basis (simply receiving what information or signals are within your grasp) and an active basis (where you project some energy and watch for the feedback or return signal).
Both passive and active modes can be automated by simply making this a beneficial habit -- "set it and forget it".
Now, let's look at the passive mode. This may be as simple as keeping your eyes and ears open for new information, both overt and latent. For instance, it may come from overhearing a phone call or conversation from an adjacent cube or work space, noticing documents left on the copier or printer, watching a co-worker's or customer's facial expression, seeing who goes to lunch with whom, for how long and how often and so on.
In addition, by making a mental note or keeping a very simple spreadsheet of what is or has been received from what source as well as what information seems or seemed congruent or non-congruent along with the historical outcome of the received information you will begin to develop a very good lay of the land.
In other words, by simply watching actions and keeping mental or written notes it's a piece of cake to identify or even flush out inconsistencies, white lies and full on bullshitters. That is, if you trust what you are receiving and seeing as it is - the positive worldview -- not as you would like it to be - the normative worldview.
Now let's move on to the active mode. In the active mode, like a radar or sonar system, you simply direct a very small amount of energy at the situation or person to paint (illuminate) or ping it and then wait to see what signature or profile is returned.
Glad you asked. It can be as simple as asking a basic question, inviting someone to lunch, asking straight out how you are perceived or even using my Candy Test to see the response of those around you.
What they say, how they say it, what they do, how they do it or how they don't say it or don't do it, tells you all you need to know, especially if you keep your sonar or radar active for an adequate period of time and capture the signatures / profiles by taking mental notes or some written notes (basic spreadsheet).
And in case you wondered, situational awarenesss is a core skill and is found in our major training programs including Psychological Jujutsu, Crush Any Interview!, Fire Your Recruiter!, Office Politics and Organizational Power and our High-Impact Coaching programs.
Because without situational awareness you're flying blind!