team building organization development leadership expert michael cardus

I’m guilty of it…Stating that we need to have an open discussion then behaving in ways that are defensive; so that I can win; maintain control; keep negative feelings to myself; and appear the behave rationally. In a veiled attempt to show that my point is right and everyone else is wrong.

That is not an open discussion

The issue starts when, for some crazy reason (which is not so crazy) we feel a need to prove that our view is the right one, while at the same time saying and truly believing you want to have an open discussion.

How can those two beliefs be true at the same time?

When situations are potentially threatening or embarrassing we react to them in ways that inhibit learning, and remove the threat for potential embarrassment. If we feel that there is a chance that our beliefs, values, work, person may be in threat of embarrassment…a learned behavior (Stated in Organizational Traps) of;

  • Be in unilateral control
  • Win and don’t lose
  • Suppress negative feelings
  • Behave rationally


On to the Inquiry:

Are you setting and falling prey to your own traps?

  • Next time you are in a meeting, or discussion with someone – listen to your inner voice.
  • What is it saying?
  • As you feel that the other person or you may be placed into an uncomfortable position, write down your thoughts about the other person.
  • Are those thoughts mainly negative ( he doesn’t get it, she is just being difficult, he never listens, there she goes again) or positive ( she really seems to understand, he is being very accommodating, she is a great listener).
  • Write some of those thought down.
  • How do those thoughts carry over into how you speak and treat the other person?
  • How does the way you think, and treat the other person – only reinforce your actions which reinforce your thoughts?
  • STOP. What areas of cooperation can you find?
  • In what ways can you ask questions, that may search for evidence?
  • How can YOU shift the discussion to gather information that will allow the other person and you, to make the most informed choice? Without having to prove you are right.

As always your feedback is welcome.

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