Think of all the people you interact with daily. Now think of the number of times you judge someone actions as dysfunctional.

You might find yourself thinking, or saying, something like this:

  • “What a jerk …”
  • “I can’t believe how inconsiderate he is …”
  • “Why on earth does she always have to challenge everything I say?”

Having thoughts like this is normal. Despite being normal, though, it does not mean these thoughts overly useful. Such thoughts are probably costing you more than the time it takes to think them.

Think of a time recently in which you fixated, even briefly, on someone else’s dysfunction. How did the experienced leave you feeling? How long did it take you to return to being happy after swearing at the driver who just cut you off? How long did until you were productive after that dysfunctional meeting you hated?

Is this a good way to spend your time?

What’s in a dysfunction

The definition of dysfunction is “deviation from the norms of social behaviour in a way regarded as bad.” — Dictionary.com

Given this definition, what indeed is a dysfunction? I read it as an evaluation of the actions of others. When you evaluate, you will apply your filters and see the behaviours through your lenses.

There are many social norms that people will hold. A country, company, family and team will all have some common social norms. Despite this commonality, everyone cannot help but apply their filters to these norms.

What this means is a dysfunction for one person may not be for another.

Leading with curiousity

You will encounter things you consider dysfunctional every day. How you approach this dysfunction can make all the difference in how your day goes or how others respond to you.

Do you try to control the other’s behaviour to conform to your norms? Trying to control behaviours will only lead to an added burden, resentment, blame and more. Nothing overly productive.

Why not open up your curious about the behaviour you have labelled as dysfunctional. Ask yourself what the other person’s story might be? What unmet need might this person have? What about your story has you seeing it as dysfunctional?

Too often, what you see as dysfunctional the other person sees as normal. Close this gap through curiousity.

With curiosity you will find your own answer to:

Dysfunction + Curiousity = _____________