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Knowing how people think

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In order to be successful as a business manager, you have to understand how people think, process information, and respond to others. Every person uses values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations to process information and give it meaning. Let’s take a look at these three concepts to see if we can better evaluate the thinking patterns of others.

Values: This is the sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad, etc. Values are typically learned early in life, and have a lot of influence on behavior.

Assumptions: This is a belief about how we should and should not behave (such as social rules). These are formed through what we are taught, but also from our own conclusions and feelings based on experiences in life. For example, if you hold the value of honesty, then your assumption is that you should pay your bills, not lie, treat others fairly etc. A further assumption is that others also believe that they should be doing those things.

Beliefs: This is the core truths in your life. Our beliefs are often formulated by perceptions combined with values and with assumptions. We see how others behave (perception), and we then compare it to how we think they should behave (assumptions), and place it within the framework of our values, and this brings out beliefs. For example, some believe that people are fundamentally good, others may believe that people are fundamentally bad. It all has to do with their values, how they perceive the world, and the assumptions they make while doing so.

So what does all of this have to do with business management? When a business manager understand how thinking patterns evolve, they are better able to understand their employees, and thus communicate on their level, effect needed changes, and respond to them in a positive way. We are not mind readers, and assumptions can lead to a lot of problems if you are managing, so rather than relying on pure assumption, use your environment and the values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations of employees to better understand them and their needs.
In addition, it is important that business managers understand that fundamentally, most individuals are going to be working to build and maintain their self-concept, and many of their behaviors will be a result of the efforts to do so. This is comprised of the gap between our self image and our ideal self. This gap is often referred to as self-esteem, or how we feel about ourselves. Understanding how self esteem generates feelings, and how those impact the work place can make you a much better manager. Understanding how people think will allow you to communicate clearly, fix problems more easily, avoid misunderstandings, and overall have a much more effective and happy staff.

The best way to understand someone’s beliefs, values, expectations, assumptions, and self-concept is to get to know them.

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