A blind spot is an area not easily seen. It may be the area the mirrors fail to provide a visual of. It can be either beside or behind the driver, for some it is simply an area forgotten by the driver. Accidents occur when the driver changes lanes and there is another car that cannot be seen, because it is in their blind spot. In some cases, the other car is hit or forced to move quickly and possibly cause a bigger accident.
Optically speaking, our blind spot is the region of the retina where the optic nerve and blood vessels pass through to connect to the back of the eye. Since this area lacks light receptors, a part of the field of vision is not perceived. The brain fills in the gaps with surrounding detail and with information from the other eye, so the blind spot is not normally perceived.
As humans, or executives, we have blind spots in our lives and businesses as well. These blind spots can be the cause of all sorts of anxiety. For example, if A senior manager brought in a coach to work with her team. This manager’s vision is of a high-performing team that was efficient and happy. But in reality, she had a group of people fighting, missing deadlines, and high employee turnover. Each team member saw themselves as a “victim” of how someone else was behaving. The first step to take, is to give this team a leadership assessment. The assessment will show their strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles, then her team can be shown their blind spots.
Say there was one person in particular, causing a great deal of discord because he had his own way of doing things and was unable to see, or accept, there were other ways to accomplish the task. By forcing his style on others, instead of working together, the team members became angry and frustrated. What can be done is to perform some exercises that will clarify the team blind spots and prove the power of hearing and validating everyone’s ideas, you will then notice that the team will begin working together.
These same steps can be performed outside the workplace. Let’s use an orchestra as an example. If one person is playing slightly out of tempo , that one person can destroy the beauty of the music. When everyone plays at the same tempo and plays the proper notes, beautiful music is created. A blind spot in this case is when the off-tempo person believes they are right and refuses to follow the conductor. Sometimes the answer is to work directly with the individual, other times they have to be removed.
So how do fins your blind pots are? Blind spots aren’t bad–they simply exist. Once you find your blind spot, you can put a “mirror” or process in place to make sure it doesn’t cause you further trouble. Below you will find a list of possible blind spots. (You’ll probably want to add others from your own experience.) As you think about each item, ask yourself, “How does this cause me grief?” “How does this get in my way or slow me down?”
- Not listening to another person’s complete statement and jumping to conclusions about what they were going to say.
- Looking at a situation and immediately judging it as “right” or “wrong” before getting all the facts (Judgments create a blind spot – automatically!)
- Impatience with people who like to talk or talk too much
- Frustration with people who are less conscientious, systematic, conservative and task-oriented than you
- Tolerations…which are the little things that cause momentary irritation you are meaning to “fix”. For example, a broken chair, messy desk, chronically losing keys, etc.)
- Rushing those who have a more patient approach
- Looking at your own needs and not asking others about theirs
- Quickly labeling situations or people
- Putting up walls against feedback (especially “negative” feedback)
An important fact to remember is to try to understand yourself, the way you think and react under pressure, is crucial to getting an accurate idea of your blind spots.
One way for getting an accurate idea of your own blind spot is to ask yourself a few questions:
- What is my behavior style and how do I handle problems, people, pace, and procedures?
- Does my behavior style work or not work with my teams’ styles?
- What are my values and how am I motivated?
- What comments and feedback do I hear from others?
- Am I accepting others comments and feedback?
- What feedback am I ignoring?