I received this email relating to Making A Difference With Differences:
I believe there is a process by which this can happen. As the writer notes, part of it rests within each of us as individuals. The other resides in the group and what the individuals have allowed it to become up to this point. That is: "Am I safe expressing my beliefs without fear of reprisal?" That's a legitimate fear when your livelihood depends on the answer.
I find myself rather frequently called in to facilitate conversations between executives who somehow have reached a point in their relationship where they are at a standstill. As a result, so is the company. I think this is a good starting point to address the question and to continue the discussion.
Transactional and Transformational Conversations
If you haven't thought of conversations in this way before, I hope you'll find this useful and productive.
Most conversations we have are transactional. They are all about exchanging information and reactions. They are also fairly predictable. We know what we want going in and in many cases know what to expect as a result.
Often, these can be dysfunctional because they sustain an already bad situation. (For those of you who are married or in a long term relationship, think of the habitual argument or the habitual silence maker). Transactional conversations can be fruitful as well. Using negotiation techniques or Roberts Rules of Order, participants can exchange ideas that expand the common ground on which they are able to work together. Sweet.
Their real use: Keeping things as they are. They don't move people outside of the boxes in which they've placed themselves.
Transformational conversations are different. When we enter this kind of a conversation we don't know the outcome and may not even know what our world will be like as a result. It may even start off transactionally but something changes along the way.
In order to begin moving in a transforming way, there are at least four unknowns that are necessary:
1. Not knowing what the solution will be.
2. Not even being 100% sure of the topic or the problem.
3. Not knowing how we will "be" when we leave the meeting.
4. Not knowing "how things will be" when we are finished.
Can you accept those in order to begin having conversations that make a difference?
I'll dig a bit deeper as the week goes on and look forward to a transforming discussion.