The impact of wilful blindness in the workplace

Willful blindness in the workplace can cost an employer money and can cost managers their jobs! It is a matter of knowing WHEN to become willfully blind and when to make sure your eyes are wide open?  It’s a matter of timing.  And we think we might have it all figured out and then something happens in the global economy to shake our decision making to the core.   How then does a leader know what to filter – when to don the blinders and when to keep their eyes open?

business-blind-spots_articleThe only way is through their personal “feelers” and becoming aware of how willful blindness works. Willful blindness in the workplace can stagnate an organization and change that organization from an open flowing system to a closed system very quickly. Each individual in the workplace has an option every day to remain wide-eyed and open to changes and decisions that must be made.  Of course, much of what we do in life has to do with our personality type. There is a free personality test at which can help you identify what “type” of person you are, based on Myers Briggs.  Your personality profile will predict whether you are someone who chooses “willful blindness” as an escape or someone who chooses it only occasionally when the going gets tough or, perhaps, someone who rarely considers putting on the blinders.

ripple-effectWe all know that if we throw a rock into a lake, the ripples reach and touch the edges of that lake. In the same way we daily affect those around us in our families, in the workplace, and as we interact with the world at large by the way we react and interact with one another. We can be a positive influence and a “positive presence”, and as some label a “positive energy”, or we can be the negative influence, or negative energy.

Once the pot of negativity is stirred, it is very difficult to reel in the negative fumes. Negativity in the workplace is deadly, whether it starts outside the workplace in world controversy, or whether it begins seemingly innocuously at the employee water cooler.  All managers and team leaders have to be aware of any signs of employee resentment or infuriation.

This is why I always caution team leaders or managers to take the time to know and understand their subordinates.  Just the very word “subordinates” is a psychologically dangerous word.  Why not say assistants, juniors, or aides?  There are other words that come to mind that are not so tasteful, words like minions, underlings, and dependents. When a team leader or a manager knows more about the personalities of their team members/crew, they are able to help those team members resolve issues more effectively and expediently.  By doing this, managers, team leaders, bosses, and employers can avoid the pitfalls of willful blindness within the company ranks.

d95_glassesWhen employees even sniff out a manager or team leader who is the type of person who revels in their own power, those employees most certainly will don their thickest, willfully blind goggles!

In a manager’s quest for efficiency and capturing a level of significance, they might find that this type of muscle makes their team/crew blind, or selectively blind to any sound data that a team leader is presenting– even before that leader has a chance to present all the whys and what fors of a company decision.  It is a losing battle before the players even get to the proverbial battlefield.

The reality is that willful blindness often has concrete reasons for being initiated in the first place. What are you willing to shift about the way you connect with others in order to avoid triggering this response?

 Author Faith Wood is a certified professional speaker who specializes in decoding human behavior.  From decoding to learning to navigate and harness conscious and unconscious decision making patterns is important for ourselves and for the people we influence.  It becomes even more critical when facing stressful economic climates.  Will you survive or thrive when facing your own uncertainties?