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Why You're Making PBJ Wrong

Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – who knew how complicated it could be…

Last week I had the honor and privilege of speaking with more than 150 teachers and administrators to help them strategize and gain some clarity on their strengths related to their mental energy.

While there, I tossed out a simple question to the audience: How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

The response was as it often is when I facilitate these trainings, giggles, confused faces, arms folded, all of them saying the same thing:

"Why on Earth did you ask me that question Julie?"

As we went around the room, I heard answers ranging from basic to hyper detailed. Some explained how to write the grocery list, others described their choice of bread, we even had some Uncrustables advocates.

I pointed out to them something very clear from their responses: for something as simple as making a PBJ, we had come up with a plethora of VERY different responses.

Time and time again I have found this exercise to bring to light three main things about working on any team.

  1. We can all hear the same set of instructions, but process them differently.

  2. Some of us describe a situation with great detail while others get right to the point.

  3. When I asked that question to a different group the prior week, I heard at least five different versions from what I got with this group.

Although this might seem like a funny topic, go home and ask your loved ones or your coworkers how they would make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and see what they say!

Observe their body language, as well as the level of detail used to describe this very simple sandwich.

How does this apply to your work?

If you and a coworker are at odds about how to reach a goal, ask yourself:

Could there be more than one way to make this sandwich?

I am certified in a tool called the Kolbe A Index that addresses the innate way that people solve problems. Curious to learn more? Check out more information here

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