Category Archives: active listening

Collaboration DNA: Contrarians and the Desire to Control (Ch.11)

Many connect the pursuit of critical thinking to the behavior of a group of stakeholders that I’ve come to call contrarians but we need to tread carefully on the semantics. There’s a valuable role for challenging assumptions, taking an alternative view, even a healthy debate. Those who help drive such thinking I call ‘challengers’. It’s a key role that I outline in Ch.14.

Contrast all that with the dynamic in unhealthy debates. These are,  sadly, all too common.

Contrarians play only to win. They argue for the sake of arguing. They don’t  listen, and don’t respect the views of others. These behaviors can halt the flow of collaborative insights, often becoming a death blow to team dynamics. In Chapter 11 of The DNA of Collaboration, I unpack this important area. Let’s unpack some of the major drivers:

  • Q1 How do respect and healthy boundaries influence our ability to collaborate? 
  • Q2 Broadcasting, talking over others and controlling the floor spell trouble. What can be done?
  • Q3 When emotions rise, we stop thinking clearly .. have you seen this happen? What do you do about it?
  • Q4 Arranging for up-front Opt-in to rules & participation changes the mix. Is self-selection a game changer? 

We’ll discuss this today at 11am ET at Twitter hashtag #cdna.  I hope you’ll join us!

- Chris Jones, author, @CollabDNA aka @sourcepov


Collaboration DNA: Are We Listening? (Ch.8)

Collaboration starts with the ability to listen. That’s also where it often stops.

Amid a deluge of information and a proliferation of ways to get it, it’s no wonder that we tune out to so much of what is happening around us. But it spells trouble when we try to solve problems together.

I’ve addressed active listening as a core, foundational element in The DNA of Collaboration because so often it’s where we run off the rails. For years we’re programmed to speak up, take a stand, and broadcast our ideas. So what do we do in meetings? We wait for our turn to broadcast. If there’s spare time in between soliloquies? We use it to polish up the next one.

Collaboration doesn’t work that way. True communication requires give and take, focus, and our full awareness of others around the table (virtual or otherwise). It’s amazing how many f2f meetings and virtual chats I attend regularly where people don’t listen in the slightest. They might as well be wearing headphones. Some of them actually are. And there’s that whole fiddling with email on the smartphone routine.

For true engagement that leads to valuable collaborative outcomes, we need to change our approach.

Let’s look  at some key CDNA discussion points our next Virtual Book Tour conversation, SAT 9/8 11aET:

  • Q1. Bias for Respect. Do you value the input of others? How do you show it?
  • Q2. Bias for Trust, aka ‘benefit of the doubt’ means leaning into new interactions. Do you do this? Have you been burned, and if so, did you bounce back?
  • Q3. Active Listening. What steps can you take to be present, in the moment?
  • Q4. Empathy. Is this a natural trait, or a skill that can be learned? 
  • Q5. Positive Outlook. Do we come poised to win the debate, or to learn? What are the signs? How can we influence mindset?
  • Q6. Goal Orientation. We’ve said our intent is key. Why does it impact our ability to listen in the moment?

To me, collaborators must be willing to listen. It seems so intuitive. But how often do we try to do it? How often are we successful? Join us, as we discuss this important thread. To join the conversation, click here.

- Chris Jones, author, @sourcepov


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