Understanding From the Inside


You can only influence others when you see them as they are, not as you wish they were. In Coping with Difficult Bosses, Robert Brahmson explains that “understanding from the inside” helps you more effectively cope with difficult bosses.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Make sense of behavior. It’s easy to simply hate behavior we don’t agree with.  Instead, try to make sense of it.
  • See people from the inside.  Form a picture in your own mind of how they see the world.
  • Understanding does not mean approval.  The purpose is to understand it, not approve it.  By understanding it, you can better cope and use more effective techniques.

I think this point follows along the lines of Sun-Tsu’s insights:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Understanding From the Inside
Bramson writes:

“The behavior of managers whose demeanor seems so antithetical to good management is so confounding that most of us are content to simply hate it without trying to make sense of it, or we explain it without much thought as the product of a defective personality. Yet even a modicum of that special kind of understanding that psychologist George Kelly called “understanding from the inside” can help you stop wishing that your Difficult Bosses were different; this is important because you can only influence others when you see them as they are, not as you wish they were. Seeing people from the inside means formulating, in your own mind, a picture of how the world must look to them, as distorted as that view may seem. In truth, you may not really want to understand someone who is behaving badly toward you. If so, it may help you to move beyond that distaste to keep in mind that “understanding” does not imply approval, acceptance or liking, and that understanding from the inside lays a solid foundation for coping.”

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