Thursday, February 16, 2006

on working with people


It is all too easy to forget that what people publicly espouse publicly is often quite different from the views they privately harbor. In order to better understand the motives of people we work and live with we should us multiple formal and informal ways of gathering information and opinion.

This approach can make us more aware of how people feel, their stakes, the expectations they have to respond to and the politics of their situation. Since most often than not we aspire to create consensus decisions we should go out of our ways to actively solicit and surface every stake holder’s point of view. By being able to see across the board we can recognize common ground and conflicting interests across disparate pieces of information and viewpoints. This will enable us to distill complex signals into its key messages

Then we can take decisions that are balanced and hopefully that most people were happy to live with. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to listen actively, take the perspective of others, encourage the expression of diverse opinions and withhold judgment. An important lesson I have been learning is the power of developing both formal and informal relationships with people. In yahoo groups I have seen people often change their views and it is important to build a broad coalition of support.

By being able to empathize with people's vested stake makes it a lot easier to make our thinking clear to others. We can then be better able to persuade others to consider ideas and proposals that find favor to negotiate win-win solutions.


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