Pam Fox Rollin of Idea Shape hits the nail on the head when she says that

What looks like someone’s blind spot can be simply their way of being in the world

The approach that Pam modeled in working with blind spots was based on looking at the person not the blind spot. Her emphasis was more on building trust, being respectful of what matters to the individual and helping them achieve their goals through using tools such as developing non-judgmental tools of observation.

Pam points to a study that determined that when we observe ourselves we do not make use of all the available behavioural information that a neutral observe uses. She quotes Bob Sutton of Work Matters who sums things up

Others perceptions of your actions are probably a lot more accurate than your own

Everyone may be reeling from the wake someone leaves behind but don’t expect that anyone will rush to “thank you” if you point out their blind spots to them. Sometimes timing matters. In her presentation for TypeLabs “Type Practitioner Blueprint series” Pam presented some clear and concise case studies that illustrated why knowing your blind spots matters, what triggered the need for the individual to explore their blind spots and the resulting outcomes of having a new awareness.

These stories included the whole spectrum of blind spots from the person who was proud of his drill sergeant style which wasn’t challenged until the time he sought a management position to the person who was blind to their capability and was stopping their career before it had a chance to gain momentum.

Pam points out that people may have heard feedback about their blind spots before but often don’t take action until it costs them. That’s when they finally understand the consequences that being embedded in this behaviour has to their well being. This new awareness is not always an easy pill to swallow and it may, in fact, threaten a person’s self perception. Often they can hear the words but simply don’t know what do do about it.

Assessment tools such as the MBTI, Enneagram or DISC can help the coach and client develop hypothesis of blind spots. These models provide an array of typical issues for a type. Pam suggests following the lead of the client and using whatever assessment tool the client is familiar with and/or what the coach knows best. The coachee can then observe and test to see what if any behaviour resulting from a blind spot holds true for them.

Having a coach as insightful and skilled as Pam resulted in the fellow with the drill sergeant mode of operation revealing that the best part of his new awareness and shift in style came when his young son said that he wasn’t afraid of him any longer.

Knowing your blind spots may not be such a transformational experience for everyone but if we are not aware of the impact of our behaviour we are surely not able to do anything differently.

Category: Coaching / Leadership
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