I’ve been arguing here for a while that human beings are deeply affected by what we’re around, including by other people. We are far from the separate, solitary, unitary individuals that our contemporary understanding (or at least the understanding of the past 200-300 years) would have us be.
This has far-reaching consequences for much of the ‘common sense’ by which we think about ourselves.
In the world of organisations in particular, it’s considered good practice by many to give people enduring labels such as ‘high performer’, ‘low performer’, ‘star’ or ‘troublemaker’. Whole performance management systems are based upon the premise that this is a reasonable thing to do.
What such labelling always leaves out is any understanding that we have any affect upon one another.
Someone who you are sure is a troublemaker may, indeed, be a gift of possibility when around others. A ‘low performer’ can easily be someone who contributes enormously when they’re in different company.
Being so sure about others’ enduring qualities without looking at your own role in how they show up means you’re missing a huge opportunity to effect change in whatever organisation or system you’re involved.
How people ‘perform’ around you, will – in the end – have as much to do with you, as it ever did with them.