Growth and Communication

My wise and former professor at UChicago, Peter Koestenbaum Ph.D. shared this with us regarding  growth and communication. It’s relevant to all professionals.

A team of twelve engineers in charge of about a thousand technicians could not get along; they were prima donnas. After struggling for almost a year, they reached the following insights:

As engineers, we viewed our lack of teamwork and cooperation as a problem, and engineers are taught that problems have solutions. In the world of construction, they do have solutions: here is the formula, and the structure either stands or falls. But we now understand that thinking of people as if they were objects is fundamentally wrong. We knew that in theory, but we did not understand it in practice. It leads to distortion and ends in failure.

Instead of attempting to go from problem to solution and then failing, we changed our language. Now we say we have pain, not a problem, and then we talk about the pain. The problem was not the disagreement but how we handled it, how we spoke to each other, and the emotions we allowed to rise within us as a result of improper communication. Now we say “I feel, I understand,” rather than “You are” and “You believe.” We communicate, we speak, we listen; we try to see the other person’s point of view. We establish relations. We accept that we feel good or bad about each other. We learn, and the result is that our perception of the problem shifts: the energy has left the problem; the pain has diminished. We cannot explain it, but we like it.

We call that growth. Rather than going from problem to solution, we go from pain through dialogue to growth. We grow as persons, as managers, as executives, as human beings. We treat each other better. We are more willing to make compromises. It is not how we behave that matters; it is the character and the maturity of our souls and the heart behind those actions that come through and are convincing. The bottom line is that productivity has increased significantly, not to speak of the healthier atmosphere around the workplace.

About Kate Mulcahy

Kate Mulcahy is principal of Brand New Discovery Inc., a consultant and coach who provides a strategic and creative experience for business leaders, entrepreneurs and forward-thinking individuals who want to fully optimize or refocus their professional lives. Applying her extensive leadership, marketing and communications experience, Mulcahy leads you closer to a higher level of thinking by encouraging you to prioritize your goals and objectives for what you plan to achieve both personally and professionally. Her imaginative, optimistic, and engaging approach leads to reinventing, rediscovering and defining what’s possible for yourself and your personal brand.
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