Problems versus Symptoms

In this case we are talking about problems versus symptoms in terms of how people react with each other and their environments. That could be as individuals, in business, in family or within groups. It comes down to communication culture, meaning how messages are sent, received, perceived and responded to. From a social problem versus symptom perspective that is largely a result of how those with less influence are responding to those with more influence. Of course there are many factors and nuances involved but when it comes down to it culture is a result of how the people involved are managing their communications. Keep in mind that internal communication is a major factor. Internal communication is our perceptions being aligned with our accumulated experience. Now, would you call managing communications a problem or a symptom?

Let’s look at it this way. A problem is a root cause. A symptom is a result of, or a reaction to, something. A physical example could be a broken arm. The fall that caused the broken arm is the problem. The broken arm itself is a symptom, or result of, the problem. Now, how does that example relate to people interacting with each other, either one-on-one or in groups? A business, group or personal equivalent example could be someone who is bad tempered or inconsiderate. That would be the problem. The reaction to, or symptom of, that problem would be others being less willing to try to please or engage with that person. Further, people will be less willing to engage with others that are showing support for that person. Note that where problem people are involved, anything less than trying to address the problem will be seen as de facto supportive of the problem. While that may seem unfair, relative to someone’s actual motivation, it’s what others perceive to be the motivation for the action or lack of action that they will be responding to.

In business this action or lack of action is seen as leadership. In social groups, this is seen as who is the glue that holds the group together. Internally, this is represented by the act of managing our perceptions and responses. Our perceptions drive our responses. Our responses are projected in what we say, how we say it and the story our body language reveals. Everyone perceives and responds to all of these things. When people react, all of that and more is what they are reacting to.

For many, people’s reactions can seem complicated. But here’s the thing, what motivates reactions is really not that complex at all. The motivators are, for the most part, basic instinctive responses to our perceptions of things in our environment, sometimes internal and sometimes external. It may be helpful to think of these instinctive reactions as motivating thoughts. Motivating thoughts are at the root of most, if not all, human interaction complexity. This is because our instinctive responses filter up through our unique life experiences and we tend to justify them rather than question or consider them. In reality, it is how our brains are designed, to conserve energy. But, experientially, it is how we feel decisive, productive and powerful. The result is we respond without considering the context of what is behind our motivating thoughts and we find ourselves, all too often, in situations that are not in our own best interest or in the best interest of the group.

One of the keys to leadership, contributing to a group, as well as personal performance is the ability to manage what we are projecting. One step back from that is managing what we perceive. The next step back is identifying instinctive, biased, judgmental and conditioned reactions. You can’t manage what you don’t identify and understand.

This is why learning about the dynamics of human interaction, or communication culture, is so valuable. It is the knowledge of root cause. This knowledge empowers all other knowledge. It is fundamental, it is powerful, and that is what makes it so valuable.

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