Category Archives: cooperation

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.

Ethics of Influence

Last week I was invited to be the guest on Hollis Polk’s internet radio show, “Your Life, Your Relationships.” As I prepared to talk about increasing our influence in personal life, I realized that the use of power in personal relationships is a deep and complex subject.

Influencing at Work
Usually, when teaching or coaching in a corporate or government setting, I  encourage each person to be as influential as possible. Assuming that your intentions are at least somewhat on behalf of the organization and its customers, you want to be as influential as you can in carrying out your role.
In large systems, getting anything done relies on influencing skills combined with position power, intelligence, and leadership. One of my favorite things about influencing skills is that anyone can use them and be powerful.
Influencing in Personal Relationships
Influence also happens in relationships with family and friends. In personal life, the question of who gets his or her way is different from what happens at work.  Where there are children or elders, the capacity of the participants is unequal. The nature of the family unit or community is that it exists for its own sake, not simply to accomplish external goals.

Within that context, there may be greater felt constraints on how we influence, as well as an overriding need for harmony.
The idea that we would consciously attempt to influence our family and friends might seem foreign, and even unethical. as if we were scheming against them. The idea that we would not be attempting to influence them is pretty far out also.
Of course we have influence within our close relationships. It may not work as well as we would like, and we might not admit it. Whether we like it or not, we influence just bybeing there. We can’t not influence each other, so let’s be conscious of how we do it. 
Are You Playing Games?
Whoever has the communication skills to influence others is going to get his or her way more of the time than someone who doesn’t. This can be aboveboard or it can be more devious.
In transactional analysis, maneuvers that discount someone or something are called “games,” and are basically unethical ways to influence. Typically, they don’t even accomplish the intended goal for the person who initiates them.

Ethical Influencing
Consider these three qualities that can make our influence more ethical – i.e., not scheming against our closest relations.
1. Concern for the good of all.
If it’s genuine, then any outcome we have for ourselves will take others’ needs into account. 
2. Respect for each person’s own version of reality and appropriate stage of development.
Even if my plan seems better for someone else than theirs, they get to decide for themselves. This, of course, has to be modified when the person is four years old or sometimes when he or she is incapacitated.
In general, people can be allowed to decide more for themselves than their close relations may want them to. Beware of power games that interfere with respecting the other person’s point of view. When in doubt, consult with someone who is not a party to the issue.  
3. Transparency.
If we withhold relevant information, or are not willing to say what our intention is, or try to get someone else to do our dirty work for us, we are setting up a negative payoff either sooner or later. It’s a good self-test–would I be willing to share my thinking with the person I am trying to influence? If not, I may be up to something that I’ve rationalized to myself which is really underhanded.
If these three principles are honored, the rest is up to skill.
Are you good at conveying what you want so that others can hear and be motivated to support you?
Are you able to say no diplomatically and hear it with grace?
Have you invested enough in others’ emotional bank accounts that they are willing to invest in yours?
As you step forward in 2012, make your family and friendships a source of cooperation and joy in your life by exerting your influence with ethics.

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!