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Blocker 2

Last year I had a conversation with someone who received feedback and was labelled a blocker, at work. They were upset about the label, angry and about to give up. The people applying this label were looking to launch a new process and they saw ‘the blocker’ as problematic, uncompromising and ultimately someone who was stopping them achieving their goal.

I asked them to explain why they were so upset about the label and they felt it reflected badly on them, they were not trying to stop the work and they just wanted it to be easy for the Colleague and the Customer.

It is common for us to get upset and allow labels to define us. We allow, our own personal definition of what that label means to us, it to get under our skin and get us hot under the collar. It does not have to be blocker. It could be anything: Introvert, cynic, talkative, procrastination, unorganised etc.

Below is my discussion with the ‘blocker.’

I asked them to think about the NFL for a moment and the purpose of the star quarterback.
They replied the quarterback was there to dictate the play, move the team up the field and ultimately help the team succeed.

I then asked them to think about the other players in the team and their purpose, whilst the quarterback has the ball. They replied the team is there to block and prevent the other team from hitting the quarterback and hurting the team.

I asked them if this was a valuable part of the team function. They thought for a moment and agreed it was. Without the blockers the quarterback would be over run and the team would not achieve their goal.

I finished by asking them if the blocker label, in relation to NFL, is a negative one. They replied it was not and this was because of the service they provided to the team.

I asked them to consider the meaning of the label ‘blocker’ and what it means for them (including the upset it caused) and asked them (based on what we have just discussed in respect of NFL) if a blocker in business actually has a positive purpose.

They sat for a couple of minutes reflecting on this and replied they had not thought about it in this way before. They even went as far as comparing Contact Centre Associates to the quarterback – which I whole heartedly agree with!

The went on to say the process was fine for the business, but not necessarily for the Colleague or the Customer. It needed more work, to get it in a good place, to make sure it was clear, easy to understand and easy to explain to a customer. They understood why they may be perceived as a blocker, but their purpose was to protect the quarterback – you! Understanding the positive, of a particular label, was key in helping them to move on and not give up.

I encourage you, when you feel irritated by a label, to apply a different meaning to the label.
After all, they are only words, right, they can’t harm us?
We can make a choice to apply a different meaning to any label/judgement, someone makes of us.
By choosing to apply a different meaning it removes the restrictions others apply and the restrictions we apply to ourselves.

Happy re-labelling!

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Ian Ruane

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