I jokingly say that I’m American bilingual. I am Canadian and speak English; however, some of the English in the US is different than Canadian English. I used to say, “it’s 20 degrees outside,” with a smile on my face, and my American friends would shiver in horror. I now quickly convert to Fahrenheit, miles per hour, and pounds and ounces instead. I don’t say, “It’s 20 degrees outside. Oh, that’s 68 degrees for you.” I simply adapt my language to whoever I’m speaking with.
Once in a workshop in the US, I was telling a story about my “mum” when I noticed a sea filled with blank faces. I realized after the fact that I should have pronounced it “mom” as a mum is a plant! The different pronunciation changed the meaning of the word.
When I’m in London, I have trained myself to look to the right first before I step into a street. I learned that the hard way and scared a few drivers, including myself, at first. I still can walk safely across the street, but I adapt my actions to look right before stepping into the street. I realized that I always looked left, stepped in the street, and then looked right. Not a good idea when they drive on the other side of the street.
We adapt. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how to be adaptable.
But, are we? Are we really adaptable? Are you able to grow, change, forego what you believed to be right, and make it now wrong? Are you able to adapt to the “new” right?
[ctt template=”3″ link=”9Q92d” via=”yes” ]Are we really adaptable? Are you able to grow, change, forego what you believed to be right, and now make it wrong?[/ctt]
Are you willing to admit there are new ways to do things in the office, that just because you learned it one way doesn’t mean it is still correct? Are you willing to update your skills, knowledge, and way of doing things?
Most people consider themselves adaptable if they understand why things are changing. The pandemic is a perfect example of that. We understood why we needed to work from home, why we needed masks, and why we needed to wash our hands so often we wore the skin off them.
Are you adaptable to going back to the way things were before the pandemic now? Do you understand why your company wants you back at the office full time? Just because you’ve been successfully working from home for two years doesn’t mean that is the way it “should” be moving forward.
This is where people are not adaptable. We will adapt if it is beneficial to us, yet if we don’t understand why we need to adapt or, heaven forbid, don’t want to adapt, then we refuse and are not adaptable.
As things change yet again, recognize you won’t always agree with why they are changing. You don’t have to agree with the “why” to be adaptable, but you do need to understand it.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”e3Xm5″ via=”yes” ]You don’t have to agree with the “why” to be adaptable, but you do need to understand it.[/ctt]
For instance, as many of you know, I’ve been harping on getting everyone to stop using two spaces after a period. Over 20 years ago, the rules changed so that it is only one space after a period in a sentence. The “why” is explained here. https://on-the-right-track.com/one-space-or-two-spoiler-alert-its-one/
However, I still (a few weeks ago on my Facebook page) get heated debates online when I bring it up. I hear statements like, “Well, I like the look of two spaces, and one space looks wrong to me, so I’m not going to change.”
Can you imagine if you used that type of excuse at work? “I like the look of my desk without a computer on it. When I worked back in the 80s, I didn’t have a computer; I could do everything on paper. I’m not going to use a computer because I don’t like how it looks.” It makes me giggle to think that anyone would dream of saying something so silly.
At first, we didn’t understand why we needed to wear seat belts or start locking our doors when we were in the house or even switching to the Windows platform. We needed to find out why we’re being asked to do those things. Even if we didn’t agree, we could move forward.
Being adaptable requires us to be willing to find out the why.
You may not like that your company is asking you to come back to the office full-time when some people don’t have to. You may disagree with the new mask mandates or removing all pandemic restrictions that we have steadfastly held onto for the past two years. You may not like the rules on spacing, gender pronouns, the change from secretary to admin to partner, or the removal of birthday cake candles. Not liking change is not enough reason to not adapt to the new norm.
Do yourself a favor and check into why things change. Understanding why makes it much easier to adapt. And being adaptable is essential for survival. Just ask the dinosaurs.