A few weeks ago I did a talk to a group of industry leaders interested in social change. They were intrigued but not totally convinced by my presentation. I left wondering how I could better convey my message. A friend later met up with one of the participants and asked her how it went. “The presentation was OK” she said, “but what I can tell you is that I made some notes and after the presentation, I was going to a meeting with someone who has been very difficult in our organisation. I fully expected the meeting to end with me, as the senior manager, threatening disciplinary action. On the way there I looked at my notes and saw one thing that Maria had said which was that the person with the most power should always let the other person speak first. This would be the opposite of what I normally do so, given that I had expectations of it going badly anyway, I didn’t see what I could lose in trying something new. I was amazed at the results. The meeting was compassionate, the person cooperated and the team atmosphere has been restored”


If we expect to conduct business without paying attention to the human being in front of us, we are missing the true richness of collaboration. Sure, we can coerce others into doing our bidding but this strategy will generally fail to make something that is bigger than the sum of its parts. Paying attention to the human being in front of us makes positive relationships from which good things can spring.

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