I really struggle with myself sometimes. Maybe it’s more fair to say that I struggle with others and they struggle with me. I’m very analytical, which is common in my profession. I also lack a lot of empathy. Also common.
If I ask my wife for 3 words to describe me, “robotic” and “psychopath” could be contenders. It depends upon her mood. I don’t have many of those moods. Even when I’m in one of those moods, I don’t understand them. They tend to be short lived.
It isn’t that I don’t feel the emotions, it’s that I have to turn my head to see them. They aren’t in my field of view unless I look for them.
I also don’t find this to be a problem, except for when it is. By the time it is a problem it tends to be a big problem. One of the best tips from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is also one of the simplest:
You can be effective with people, but not efficient.
Being analytical and not attentive to the emotional side is the paragon of efficiency. Sadly, I am almost always entirely ineffective. I fail to rally the troops, even with a perfect plan.
Yes, I am right! Can’t you see it? What do you mean it doesn’t feel right?
It doesn’t matter that I’m right. I’m wrong. I’m wrong because I don’t explain in a way people understand. I’m not effective. I don’t relate to people properly.
If you want people to understand, they must make the discovery themselves. You cannot jam knowledge into anybody’s head; you can only draw a map and hope they follow it. To be effective is to get them to want to follow it
We all know this inherently, but some of us, the more analytic bunch, can’t apply it. Even better is that we have experience with this. Our best teachers have allowed us to learn in this way. They don’t fill our heads with facts, they enable our minds to truly understand.
But I never learned that lesson until recently, and I miss many opportunities. With my kids, my wife and colleagues.