Is the ideal really full compliance and cooperation?
I suppose it depends on the situation. What’s the context of the group or team? What’s the purpose of their coming together? Lots of factors might influence how we approach things…and will influence our expectations, too.
First, we ought to define what we mean by compliance and cooperation. I can make the argument that full compliance and cooperation may not mean I agree with everything said. Or done. It may mean that I’m in such a safe space that I feel free to openly share my insights, concerns, and thoughts. I know many people might view it differently, thinking it means you just go along and don’t make waves. Without waves though, there’s no momentum. We have to work much harder to go anywhere until there are waves for us to surf.
Is the ideal being productive, effective, and efficient?
Could be. Likely true.
But full compliance and cooperation may not resemble being productive, effective, and efficient.
Some groups and teams put a premium on avoiding debate or tension of any kind. They see disagreement as destructive so their culture has little tolerance for it.
Those in charge – bosses – can easily fall into that trap, too. Fixating on what they feel is best and what they think needs to be done, the boss may be intolerant of opposing viewpoints. Many a boss has been frustrated by what they see as a lack of cooperation. It can even result in the loss of a well-intended productive employee if the boss grows too disgruntled.
The viewpoint is understandable. Most of us don’t have much fondness for disagreement because of our life experiences. We’ve seen people behave poorly. Maybe we’ve even behaved poorly ourselves. Many of us associate anger with disagreement, but that’s a very narrow view. Disagreement doesn’t have to include anger or any of the negative emotions we often associate with disagreement.
Let’s talk about what we lose when we can’t – or we refuse – to understand how disagreement can be profitable.
This presupposes that you value truth. We all claim we do, but sometimes we deceive ourselves preferring to avoid having our assumptions, beliefs or thoughts challenged. We know what we know. Or we think we do.
Fixating on tactics and strategies may help us execute more effectively, but nothing beats genuine kindness and curiosity.
We could find plenty of books and other training materials that would give us frameworks, templates and tactics. Lots of experts are willing to tell us how to go about conducting a meeting. Or having a conversation. But the net bottom line, it seems to me, is if some people in the group or team are jerks, then we have to deploy tactics to help mitigate their destructive power. What a waste of effort in the long haul?
Organizational behavior experts talk about gratitude and lower ego, but what if a person isn’t grateful? What if they truly do believe they’re the smartest person in the room? What if they don’t want to listen, much less, understand a point of view that is different from their own? What do you do then?
Craig Weber, the author of Conversational Capacity, appropriately points out we’ve got 3 choices when such a person is in charge. One, we can ignore them. Two, we can deploy strategies and tactics that may (heavy emphasis) help minimize their negative behavior. Three, we can hit the eject button and leave. Craig argues, if you’re going to leave, then you may as well use strategy number 2. What have you got to lose?
Sometimes it may be others besides the boss though. People who just don’t understand how disagreements can be valuable. Then what?
Such questions are impossible to distill into some neat tidy...