Tips for Reaching Across the Aisle - or Organization Silos
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After every election, politicians
say the same thing: "Now we have to reach across the aisle to work
together for good of the American people."
And I hear similar proclamations
(of working together for the good of all) from my corporate clients who
are looking to break down the "silo mentality" of their companies.
Sounds simple. But we know it isn't.
Here are four tips to consider when
your goal is to build collaboration in any organization:
1. Recognize your
It's a well-known principle in
social psychology that people define themselves in terms of social
groupings: Any group that people feel part of is an “ingroup” and any
group that excludes them an “outgroup.” We think differently about
members in different groups and behave differently toward them.
Similarities make us feel comfortable. We assume we know what ingroup
people are like – they’re good people, like us! We're not so sure about
"them." When we see people as part of an outgroup (and most especially
if we are also prejudiced against that group), we are more likely to
judge any negative act as typical of their character and to attribute
any positive actions as “the exceptional case.”
So it's obvious that collaboration
efforts are more successful when we expand our view of "ingroup" to be
more inclusive of formerly "outgroup" members by consciously looking
for commonalities instead of fixating on differences.
2. Confront your
Confirmation bias is a type of
selective thinking in which we tend to notice and look for that which
confirms our beliefs and positions, and to ignore or undervalue the
relevance of anything that is contradictory. That's why, once we've
decided that we have found the "right answer" or know the "right way"
to do something, it is so difficult to consider the value of other
people's opinion to the contrary.
I tell my corporate audiences that
we are in a world of multiple right answers: "There's more than one
right way to deliver babies, pizza, or a joke." So, although we are
invested in our own opinions, its helpful to realize that one of us
doesn't have to be wrong for the other to be right.
3. Make crisis work for you
No one wants to deal with a crisis,
but new research shows why the stress of combating a crisis may
increase collaboration. The classic view is that, under stress, men
respond with "fight or flight,” i.e. they become aggressive or leave
the scene, whereas women are more prone to “tend and befriend." A new
study at the University of Freiburg, Germany (and featured in
Scientific American) suggests that acute stress may actually lead to
greater cooperative, social, and friendly behavior, even in men. This
more positive and social response could help explain the human
connection that happens during times of crises. Researchers
believe that this collaborative connection may be responsible, at least
in part, for our collective survival as a species.
3. Pay attention to where
you pay attention
Neuroplasticity has replaced the
formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static
organ, and explores how the brain changes throughout life. One finding
is that the act of paying attention creates chemical and physical
changes and is continually reshaping brain patterns. Concentrating
attention on a thought or an insight or a hope or a fear will, over
time, keep the relevant circuitry open and dynamically alive. With
enough focus, new circuits become stable, physical links in the brain’s
This is why all of us -- at any age
and for any reason -- can choose to change our minds and our behavior.
To me, that's encouraging!
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-11-13 10:39:27 in Employee Articles