Friday, April 27, 2012

3 Questions That Kill Collaboration

What does he/she really mean?  What is she/he not saying? What are his/his real motives?

What these questions all have in common; the presumption of something hidden, the undercurrent of a lack of trust, and most importantly the time considering dealing with them take away from getting work done.

How many times have you been in conversations and got the sense that the listener(s) were running you through a mental MRI machine because they mis-trusted your words and/or body language, and were not taking what you were communicating at "face value?"  How often have you been in conversations and did the same to another speaker?  How often have you been involved in hallway conversation after a meeting where people were trying to "get to the bottom" of what was said in the meeting?

There is no shortage of literature / evidence about the role of trusting relationships has on performance / productivity in work / team / group settings.  Yet, as Larry Prusak, in The One Thing That Makes Collaboration Work points out, trustworthiness is rarely explicitly rewarded in most organizations. 

Of course, if you are thinking appreciatively, you could see these questions, if asked explicitly, as an opportunity to improve collaboration. Provided you can ask them in a non-threatening way and provide some positive reinforcement, and that they they are answered honestly.

Challenge yourself as well.  If you find you are asking these questions of others, consider why, and if they are warranted. Perhaps a bit of time invested in relationship building prior to critical meetings could improve the value of the interaction in them. 

Anyone who has taken a presentation skills course, or any good presenter, will know that varying how your speak - changing tempo, tone, pitch - and using movement - expressions, hand gestures, walking - are good strategies for improving the listener's experience. Ever wonder why? In this video, Daniel Levitin talks about the early origins of music - alterations in pitch and time - for communication that pre-dates language, the primitive parts of the brain affected by music, and the links between language and movement. So, increase the appeal of your presentations, and even your conversations, by incorporating some foundation elements of music. Daniel Levitin is a James McGill Professor of Psychology, Behavioural Neuroscience, and Music at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec), and author of "This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" and "The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature." and has some serious music production "creds" with some noteworthy bands.