Thursday, October 30, 2008 by Dave Blum

A useful way of thinking about people is to consider them as icebergs.  As we all learned in school, the majority of an iceberg’s mass is below the surface.  What we actually see as we’re cruising around is only a very small portion of what an iceberg is all about.

So too with people.  People tend mostly to show their skills and their knowledge…especially in the corporate workplace.  Under the water level, hidden to all but our closest associates, are our values, self image, traits and motives.

Given the fact that so much of who we are is concealed, it is no wonder that people have so many misunderstandings with their co-workers.  Quite simply, we are guessing who they are and what they’re about from the scantest information — what they choose to show us “above the water level”.

As trainers, managers and leaders, our job is two-fold:  to show more of ourselves, as well as to offer team building exercises and activities that allow people to reveal more of their personality and hidden character.  In short, building trust and empathy is all about “lowering the water level.”