I’ve been a fan of the show “Survivor” since day one. You are probably familiar with the premise, and likely know that it can be a coup for the contestants if they successfully execute a plot to blindside one of their own at tribal council.
And what about when it happens in real life? Just when you settle into something, whether it’s your job or your relationship, your level of comfort gets rocked to your core. Blindsided, you say? I’m going to call B-S.
Maybe you just weren’t looking.
If you’ve decided to pay attention, I have three suggestions to help you avoid being blindsided at work:
(1) Try not to get too comfortable. When we get complacent, we tend to miss things that other, more eager and more motivated employees will spot in a heartbeat.
(2) Try to say less than necessary. To quote my dad, “even a fish wouldn’t get caught if it kept its mouth shut.” We can learn from the space our silence creates by letting others do the talking.
(3) Document everything. Enough said.
In a personal relationship, it’s probably more important to recognize the warning signs rather than figure out how to avoid the blindside. Here are three to note:
(1) Have there been changes in the way you communicate? If your partner used to call or text numerous times a day, and you’ve noticed that the frequency has lessened, or the tone seems perfunctory, pay attention.
(2) Has there been an increased distance between you? What about a lack of genuine affection? These are signs that your partner’s feelings toward you have changed, so pay attention.
(3) What is your gut telling you? You can read a gazillion articles about how to know if your spouse is cheating on you, but your relationship is unique and cannot be compartmentalized into a thousand words. Listen to your instincts and pay attention.
Now that you’ve determined that you’re on the path to a blindside, can you do anything to prepare yourself? Here are three ways:
(1) Listen closely. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to help you propel forward instead of backward.
(2) Communicate. Equally as important, have a conversation. Have several. Ask the difficult questions even if you don’t want to hear the answers. Schedule a meeting at a time when your supervisor or your partner is available, both physically and emotionally, and if you find yourself repeating a point more than once, stop. You can always revisit it another time.
(3) Have a support system. In “Survivor,” the participants create alliances. In real life, look to a colleague or a best friend, and use that relationship to your advantage by picking the brains of those you trust. If you believe you’re on the precipice of a blindside, now is not the time to worry about what they’ll think of you. Now is the time to ask for help, in whatever way you (or they) think you need.
Please don’t wait until “the tribe has spoken.”