Monday, February 2, 2009


Thanks for all of your well wishes regarding my surgery. I am recovering nicely, and am grateful for friends like you.

We spoke last about the collaborative process and I introduced 15 items that YOU control that contribute to an atmosphere of safety, the keystone of collaborative magic.

As I have mentioned lots of times in these pages, safety is that quality in a conversation that makes others feel that they needn’t hold back things when they are speaking with you. They know some things about you, and chief among them is that you will not use what they tell you as a weapon. How do they know this? The same way you do! When you speak to someone and find yourself holding back, ask yourself why. Why wouldn’t you just share your thoughts, especially if it helped your employer get better results?

Some reasons that we don’t like to share our thoughts with some people:
They are sometimes insincere – We may feel that they have at one time or another said one thing and done another, perhaps on purpose.
They are sometimes judgmental - We may have seen them make judgments about people before and we fear we may be judged badly if we say the wrong thing, so we avoid telling a full version of the truth.
They are sometimes manipulative – We feel that they may sometimes “position” us or others, potentially putting us at risk.
They may sometimes threaten – We feel that they may sometimes overtly or subtly say things that indicate they will cause or allow unpleasant things to happen to us.
They may sometimes be competitive with us – We feel that they may use the information we give them to further themselves without giving (or sharing) credit.

These things drive us away from entering into collaboration. Who in their right mind would collaborate with someone that may treat us like THAT? Why take the chance? If YOU have a reputation for possessing any of these traits, you are driving people away from collaboration. You need to start reversing the damage immediately. It may take a while, and you need to start now.

If you are insincere, you need to show AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity is behaving in a manner consistent with your feelings. This needs to be done with respect and high purpose. For instance, without hurting another person’s feelings and for the good of your organization, you will need to tell just how you feel. Try this: Picture the person you love most in the world (your child, or spouse, or parent, or a dear friend). Picture the way you might behave in breaking some devastatingly bad news to them. It is hard, because you know how the news will hurt them. It affects you badly to have to tell them this, but you have to. You plan something to say and start to break the news, and when you see their reaction, you can’t help but feel genuine empathy for them. That feeling is an authentic feeling. There is nothing manufactured or calculated about it, and your behavior is completely consistent with that feeling. Now imagine you are delivering GREAT news to that same person. As you do, you feel amazing joy for them. You may laugh or cry, but whatever you do will be an authentic extension of your feelings. It is THAT unabridged connection between your feeling and your actions that portray authenticity.

It’s easy to imagine it when it is someone close to you, but what if it is just another guy at work? You need to practice OPENNESS. Openness is that quality that inhibits a judgmental attitude and allows us to extend the benefit of the doubt to others. By giving others the benefit of the doubt, we free ourselves to consider their words fully, without bias. We are WILLING to be influenced and OPEN to their idea. We will be fair in evaluating it. To behave with openness, all one must do is adopt a position that says “the person with whom I am speaking has ideas that they feel are important, justified, and valid. I will not allow my feelings about the person discourage me from being willing to accept their ideas IF they are good ideas”.

After listening to the ideas, be GENEROUS. If the ideas were good, allow yourself to be influenced by them and help to spread them, always giving proper credit (“you know, Paul had a great idea about this that I think you’ll find interesting”). If you don’t agree with the idea, be generous enough to say so in a constructive and supportive way (“I don’t feel that I have a sufficient understanding of your idea to really get behind it with you. I would be glad to listen if you have more to tell me about A, B, C…”).

People that display these behaviors to us make us feel respected, and we like to collaborate with people that respect us. Others will not want to collaborate with you if they feel you disrespect them.

Insist on great business results! Go to Pathfinder Communication

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article - well written and right on! Thanks, Gregg.