I’m guilty of it…Stating that we need to have an open discussion and then behave in defensive ways o that I can win; maintain control; keep negative feelings to myself, and appear to act rationally in a veiled attempt to show that my point is right 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 genuinely 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 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 thoughts 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 will strengthen 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 the information to 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.
image by tienvijftien