Finding Normalcy Gaps

One of the things that was so important early in my relationship and marriage with my wife, was the concept of identifying gaps between what was normal to her and what was normal to me. Everyone has their own expectations of normal, based on where they grew up, how their parents raised them, their friends, previous jobs, etc.

Early in my marriage, it was so valuable for us to figure out those moments, so they led to useful discussions and not frustrations. For example, I grew up buying the generic, off-brand of almost everything in the grocery store, while my wife didn’t, so the first time we went grocery shopping, she was surprised I kept reaching down to the bottom shelf to grab product brands she had never heard of. Talking about these differences, and then figuring out how important various normals are to people are critical in close friendships and romantic relationships, and they’re also important as a leader in a professional environment.

When people join your organization from another company, or fresh out of school, they bring with them their normals — how they are used to working. How they think others should collaborate with them, how they should communicate. For example, does your organization/department/team prioritize well thought-out, long, detailed PowerPoint presentations to present a recommendation? Or dropping by someone’s office (when we’re not in the COVID-19 era) to chat and bring it up? Or an Amazon 6 page memo that people read silently in the meeting before the discussion? Are you collaborating with an extrovert who just wants to get to the point and take action ASAP? Or an introvert who wants all the information, data, and options explored before even considering making a recommendation?

Think about this — think about investing energy in think about frustrations between you and someone you work with may be worth zooming out to discuss with them, instead of the tactical topic at hand. Think about investing time in talking about this with the people you work with — you could go so far as looking at personality tests to identify each person’s work style and communication style.

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