Authentic Collaboration

Fast Company this week posted a piece on conflict at work.

A 2010 study by Provo, Utah-based leadership training firm VitalSmarts found that 95% of employees have trouble voicing differences of opinion, which results in a loss of roughly $1,500 per eight-hour workday in lost productivity, doing unnecessary work, and engaging in active avoidance of co-workers for every crucial conversation they avoid.

In authentic collaboration, agreements are based on the leveraging of differences that make us smarter and faster together. 

I think there are two dynamics that prevent authentic collaboration. There are people who have been shunted, demeaned or bullied when voicing differences in their organizational cultures. They keep differences to themselves, feeling wise in the security position chosen. Then there are the people who become controlling out of their intolerance for differences. These are both learned behaviors, exacerbated by a weak culture of trust.

To make authentic collaboration possible, we have to invite people to actively name differences and discover the inherent value of embracing contrasting opposites. Collaboration is authentic when different and even opposing perspectives are valued and leveraged for agreements that become richer and more sustainable than those from inauthentic collaborations where people maintain a weak trust culture through dominating and disappearing. Trust is strongly connected to our shared ability and willingness to embrace polarities.

Creating a culture of authentic collaboration requires it.