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Level Up - Issue #166


Level Up

October 16 · Issue #166 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

Behaviours vs Character Traits
This week I had a conversation with a person who said , “Rene is a really aggressive person.” It was obvious Rene had somehow upset this person. Curious to find out what was behind this, I asked, “What did Rene do that makes you see them as aggressive?”
After a few examples, I zoned in on one concrete example. I asked, “Was there anything else that might have driven that behaviour?” This person reflected for a moment and commented, “Well… Rene is under a lot of stress at the moment. Maybe that’s what triggered that?”
I find myself having conversations like this with different leaders all the time. It’s very natural to label people. Examples often include, “That person is toxic/aggressive/defensive”. These labels are our projections on someone else. I’m also betting the other party would not agree with those labels. More importantly, if you’re going to form a good working relationship with someone, focusing on character traits (i.e. fixed mindset) is less productive than focusing on behaviours (i.e. using a growth mindset).
Put differently, it’s a lot easier to request someone to change their behaviour, than it is to ask them to change who they are. Your challenge for this week is to listen in conversations and spot when people are labelling others, instead of calling out their behaviours.
I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter! Share it with a friend or colleague if you find it helpful, or drop me an email about topics you’d like to hear about in future editions.
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Behaviours are incomplete at describing who someone is
Behaviours are incomplete at describing who someone is
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany