Logic is defined as a science that deals with proof and validity (Mirriam-Webster.com). It is exact, black and white. There is no gray area where logic is concerned. For that reason, using logic when trying to understand human emotions can be challenging, but we can often do that and have our expectations disappointed. This paper will discuss a personal transition I had from logical thought to critical thinking, and the development of my perpetual process.
When I come across a person, place or thing, I try to analyze it as best I can. I try not to jump to any conclusions, and I try to gather all of the facts prior to making an emotional decision. However, I am human, and emotions can sometimes stand in my way. Some perceptual blocks that influence my views are my preconceived notions of how things ought to be, especially in the work arena.
For many years I was a sales manager and I managed a large team of young sales representatives. We conducted inside sales which consisted of calling leads and offering them our product. We were not performing cold calls; rather, each lead we received had filled out a request for information about our product. Each salesperson was supposed to make a required amount of calls per day, and be on the phone working with clients at least half of every day. Sounds easy, right?
One of my employees just could not make any sales. It did not make sense to me because he made so many calls and was on the phone so much. I just could not understand what he was doing wrong. I decided to sit with him and listen to what he was saying on the phone. That was the first part of my thought process. Logically, I thought that if I could hear what he was saying and correct him, then I would have helped him get the results he needed.
For a week I sat with the young man, listened to his calls, made calls for him, coached and trained him for hours. Satisfied with my work, I went back to working with my other employees. Another month went by and still no change in his results. I really felt sorry for this young man. He was on the phone so much and worked so hard. In this time, another employee reported to me that they witnessed this employee sleeping at their desk on many occasions. Clouded by my perceptions of that employee, who had a tendency to over-exaggerate and complain about others who got more attention than her, I conducted a half-hearted investigation into her claims. I discovered that during one of the occasions that she said my employee was sleeping he was actually on the phone, so I dismissed her allegations.
Yet another month passed and no improvement. This time, it was another manager who came to me with a report that my under-performing employee was sleeping at his desk. Again, I looked into the situation, and again I found that he was on the phone at the time of the allegation. This time I looked further. I noticed that the phone number he was calling had a local area code, not the area code of the region we usually called. I looked up the number in the system, but could not find it connected to any of our leads. Then, I asked our Human Resources department if I could do a trace on this phone number. What I discovered was shocking and changed my critical thinking process forever.
The phone number was dialed thousands of times by the young man, and there were hours and hours of logged time with him on the phone with that number. After finally looking up the number in the Yellow Pages, I discovered that the phone number belonged to a local business that had a recorded message that would play over and over, never hanging up on the caller. No wonder this man had so many calls and no results! It turns out that he was calling this number and leaving the message running, then taking a nap at his desk whenever I was at a meeting. When I was there, he would call the number repeatedly, so it looked like he was calling leads.
What I learned from the situation was that logic needs to play a role in all critical thinking, and emotions cannot get in the way. Logically, there was no way that the employee could have gotten such poor results month after month had he really been calling leads the way he should. I let my emotions of feeling sorry for him, and also my ego, thinking no one would lie straight to my face, and finally, my perceptions of the employee who first notified me of the situation, cloud my judgment and not let me look at the facts. I know in the future it is important to take emotions out of the equation, and to look at facts first.
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