Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Trevor E. S. Smith | Going beyond

Published:Sunday | September 8, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Trevor Smith

One aspect of our work in developing high-performing teams is a module that we call ‘The Way We Are’. It is designed to show how our socialisation actually interferes with our interpersonal skills in many instances, as against improving them.

At the top of the list is my pet peeve related to the ‘first impressions are lasting’ mantra that we drill into our children. The logical application is that if the norm is for people to judge me on the fleeting seconds of our first encounter, I should do the same to others. So, we end up socialising people to place lasting labels on others on the basis of no real exposure to who they really are.

That is why we embarrassingly say, “You know, when I met you I thought you were...”, or being subjected to the correction of “ You know, I am not like that”, or “No, that is not really me.”

But I digress. I really wanted to share insights from another in the series of case studies and scenarios that are included in, ‘The Way We Are’. It is titled, ‘Going beyond’.

Kris is given a major project that would certainly open doors for her promotion. Glen approached Kris with an offer to help, given his experience and expertise in the area that the project covered.

Before Kris responds, Glen seeks to clear the air by pointing to two past actions on his part that undermined Kris and could have derailed her career. He suggests to Kris that she should put that aside and accept his offer to assist her in this potential breakthrough opportunity. She was fully aware of his expertise, and he was willing to make it available to her.

By this time in the session, the level of agitation of some participants has gone through the roof. Shouts of ‘Over my dead body!’ reverberate. “He is coming for the third and fatal strike, Kris”.

Should someone playing the role of Kris accept the offer, the expressions of consternation and exasperation is fascinating to behold, while being very instructive.

What would you do? Would you entertain Glen’s offer?

In our sessions, an overwhelming majority would turn down the offer, despite the value that Glen could bring to the project, thereby boosting their careers.

Without doubt, the decision to refuse to go beyond past hurt is impacting performance in teams and organisations, maybe yours. The past has a stranglehold on the future!


- How did Kris learn of Glen’s actions? Right, from Glen. Does that align with the behaviour of someone who is unrepentant?

- Why would Glen bring to light hidden issues instead of allowing Kris to remain in her ignorance if he intended to harm her?

- Forgiving fosters empowered living.

- Unforgiveness recycles the same mess.


- From a God-fearing perspective, have you ever asked for forgiveness of a misdeed?

- Did you commit the misdeed after that request?

- How would you like to be treated by your Maker going forward?

That answer should influence your capacity to go beyond.


In the case under review, by refusing to entertain the option of benefiting from Glen’s expertise, Kris would actually be hurting herself. She would be choosing the path of victimhood instead of grasping the opportunity to dramatically overcome the hurt. Going forward with Glen’s help could lead to the completion of an improved project, thereby increasing her chances of being promoted.


It is natural that once trust is broken, there might be justification for being cautious. However, being cautious is not the same as blocking progress.

Kris can choose to accept Glen’s offer in the context of safeguards that limit her exposure to risk. She can establish deadlines and monitoring mechanisms to protect herself.

Flatly refusing the offer is to cut off her nose to spite her face.


Hidden undercurrents are impacting team performance on a large scale. Bad blood runs freely in some teams. Skilled interventions can bring them to light and open the door to resolution and enhanced productivity.

- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy guide the development of high-performing teams, incorporating behavioural assessments and team diagnostics on the revolutionary FinxS Platform from Extended DISC. They provide learning and productivity-enhancement technology solutions. Coaching solutions include 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Dominant, Difficult and Diverse Personalities and the ICF/SHRM-backed Certified Behavioural Coach programme – now enrolling candidates. Email: info@successwithpeople.org.