Category Archives: collaboration

Innovation: Why We Need to Connect with Each Other

Click on this post to view a short fun video that shows us that the connected mind is where good ideas come from.

Radical Cooperation

Small efforts make a big difference

We may take for granted the extent that we rely on good communication to get things done every day. The central skill of people who are great to work with is excellent communication. They are able to
articulate goals
build rapport
make clear requests
keep their agreements
provide information that is low on distortion and high in relevant detail
pay attention to results and learn as they go.

What does it take to be one of these people? It takes a mindset that breaks away from much of our cultural / business programming, and overrides reptilian responses. It takes a willingness to back good intentions with conscious attention.

This is radical. Radical means going to the root. If we keep in mind the purpose of our communication — i.e. go to the root — and focus on what will forward the action, we are aligned and powerful.

I work on a number of committees and teams, as I am sure you do. Everyone’s time is tight. We are all dealing with life stresses, some more than others. This pressure, along with inner voices such as, “Don’t rock the boat,” “It’s not my job,”or “They should know this already,” lets us off the hook.

It’s not that we need to carry others’ responsibilities, just raise the bar for ourselves, creating ripples of rapport and accuracy rather than conflict and confusion. If you care about the results and have the courage to act, even in little ways, you can help create the kind of workplace where people want to do their best.

If we willingly take one extra step to do any one of the following when we see an opportunity, that radical act can change the outcome.

We can:
include relevant details
provide a sentence of background
turn a complaint into a clear request
pause to get in sync with another’s tempo
read colleagues’ messages all the way through before replying
prepare an agenda or a summary
express sincere appreciation
think ahead about what we want out of the conversation
ask the other person what they want out of the conversation
find out how to spell their name
send copies to those who need to know and take off the “reply all” addresses who don’t need it
bring attention back to the goal of the conversation
I know, it’s a lot to ask…really??

Even those small actions that are unsung or don’t seem to make a difference in the moment are activating good will and generosity, at least for us. And most likely taking annoyance and stress down a notch or two.

Unless, of course, we do any of these actions with an attitude of smugness. No one likes a righteous radical!

If radical cooperation catches on, who knows, we might start having a ridiculous amount of success and fun getting things done. Go ahead, do something radical today!

Can You Say "And"?

Have you noticed the difference in how people respond when you use the word and instead of but in a sentence?

If you listen to newscasters and politicians, you will frequently hear the word but as if for emphasis. It disrupts the flow of the thought that came before, perhaps to set up an important point in a debate. This may work – though I wouldn’t count on it – if you really are in a debate. If you don’t want a debate, your choice of words can have much more influence than most people realize.

A friend with a couple of kids at home remarked on the huge difference she has found when she catches herself about to say but and changes it to and. For example, when her nine-year-old says he wants to go to a friend’s house at a time they already had plans, she can say, “You want to go to Joe’s house AND we already have plans to go skating.” He gets it right away and is a lot less likely to argue than if she had said the same thing with but in the middle.

I used to wonder if this was just one of those ideas that communication coaches believe in and that don’t have enough effect to make it worth the effort of changing. After years of practicing the A word, and catching instances of But that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed, I can report that it works not just for communication but also (there’s a legit use of but!) for expanding our ability to think about complexity.

When we are in either-or mode, we are less equipped to deal with the blended realities we are sorting through every day. When we are able to handle both-and, we absorb and manage mulitple priorities. We still make decisions, clarify thoughts, and challenge assumptions.

If you baven’t tried it, don’t assume that and and but are pretty much parallel with different meanings. At first you may not hear yourself saying but, AND if you go on a “but diet” (note that I could have said but and didn’t), you will become better at hearing and changing from but to and. AND… maybe you’ll find some unexpected breakthroughs in conversations with yourself as well as others.

I believe that the little mindshift this represents may be a key to getting along better on many levels in a diverse, pluralistic world. Certainly, rigid boundaries cause stress and conflict, which may be avoidable with more flexibility.

Whether you are interested in the bigger worldview or not, try it out for yourself. For a while you may find yourself saying the transitional version, which sounds like “ButAND”. It does smooth out, or it becomes a signal among familiars that we are on the verge of expanding our thinking.

Be wary of the “however” solution – those in the know call that “a but in a tuxedo.” Has the same effect even if it sounds fancy.

You could get a huge payback for a little effort when you decide to go conscious on your use of but and and. Check it out and share what you learn. AND we will be glad to hear about it!