At a time when many of us are looking back on the year, it might be useful to pause and reconsider something that happened for you in 2022, to provide an opportunity for learning going into next year.
Think about an incident or episode in your professional life that didn’t go quite as you would have liked. We’re not talking necessarily about a disaster, though you might have spent considerable time going over what happened, even agonising about how you and/or others handled things.
We’ll use the OBREAU conversation model (Observation, Reasonableness, Authenticity) to unpack what occurred and help you to think about what you could take forward.
Let’s start with observation. A challenge here is to pull back from evaluation (e.g., “she let me down”, “I messed up”) and ask what is directly observable. Examples here might be “she didn’t provide her input to the project by the due date” and “I criticized her loudly and publicly in a meeting”. With your own challenge, see if you can write down, say, 5 relevant and potentially significant observables, possibly including background factors or patterns that might have had a bearing on what transpired.
Now, with reasonableness, let’s pivot and imagine what things looked like from other relevant perspectives. A first step here is to suspend any judgements you have been making of others – such as, in the example, “she’s unreliable”. Instead, contemplate the story those others could be telling themselves, consistent with them as reasonable. Again, with the example, perhaps the other person felt badly about not delivering the project input on time but did not say so. See if you can write down 4 or 5 points to capture what the other party/s might have been thinking and feeling.
Turning to authenticity, what is an alternative story you could tell yourself – and maybe the other/s involved – that is genuine for you, and consistent with the observations you have made as well as with those other/s as reasonable? What could you voice, that’s personal to you, that you might ordinarily stay quiet about? With the example, perhaps our scenario character could share something about the frustration he/she felt with the project input being late. And, possibly, apologise for the way he/she spoke to the other person in the meeting.
With your own challenge, how might your newly created account of your tricky situation differ from what you’ve been saying to yourself during the year? Is there something you could express to the other party/s about your interactions in 2022 and about how you would like to work together in 2023? What are the personal takeaways that you might incorporate into your professional practice in the coming year?
Best wishes for continuing your own development into 2023.
Originally posted on LinkedIn 9th December 2022