In the book Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation, Yale (2012), Prof. Richard Sennett masterfully crafted three pillars of skilled cooperation and argues that cooperation is a craft, and the foundations for skillful cooperation lie in learning to listen well and discuss rather than debate. Each pillar has two opposite qualities or skills and Dr. Sennett analyzes them from the point of their efficiency and ability of their development. His analysis lies in the field of human nature in general but it’s perfectly applicable in the business or any organization environment. However, I would argue that the brand new integral world changes to a degree some of the skills required for an efficient enterprise.
1. Methods of Communications – Dialectical and Dialogical
Dialectics presents thesis with antithesis, which contest each other and this contest between them leads to synthesis that is supposed to be a rational conclusion. That is rarely the case, people tend to be passionate and adamant about their own ideas and unwilling to compromise, and in most instances this type of collaboration goes haywire.
Dialogical method encompasses more listening than talking, ability to establish a comforting line of communications and is generally more process than goal oriented.
2. Ways of Talking – Declarative and Subjunctive
Declarative way is the most popular Western way of communicating – “I think; I believe…” It conveys a strong assertive feeling not always leaving enough space for the other party.
Subjunctive talking like “I would assume; I would’ve thought…” leaves much more space to open and sustain a smooth meaningful dialog.
3. Acknowledgement and Recognition of other people – Sympathy and Empathy
Sympathy involves compassion, ability to feel the other, identify with the other, “I can image what it’s like…” A famous phrase of one of our Presidents, “I feel your pain…” – conveys a highly charged emotional feeling helping people identify with the cause.
Empathy tries to mimic sympathy and it occurs when you fail to reach identification and this is a skill that can be easily developed. Empathy is portraying that you acknowledge and understand their cause. It’s basically an almost dispassionate skill based on intellectualizing the situation and presenting the best visual response.
All of these qualities are informal skills and generally organizations fail to recognize their importance and to establish proper means of their development. At the same time both, external and internal conditions are rapidly changing. People tend to have shorter tenures at their work place; organizations experience rapid changes and keep re-engineering the work units, mergers and acquisitions, and etc. An additional challenge of growing diversity and globalization gives us a picture of immense complexity with only one tangible result – a massive decrease in productivity. That is actually a perfect result of looking at the new integral world with our typical old discrete approach.
We ought to develop a new integral view of any process in any organization regardless how big or small it is and the key is thinking integral!
To be continued…