Confrontation for Collaboration

In a recent Business Week article, psychologist Kerry Sulkowicz, in his “Analyze This” column, argued that confrontation may occasionally be necessary to produce collaboration. It’s an important and counter intuitive observation. Many people tend to think of a collaborative group as one where everybody is at least respectful of one another. But what happens if that’s true for all but one of the group? We’re all familiar with the power of one person to undo a constructive collaboration. High school teachers have to deal with that problem frequently. So do group leaders when the disruptive party is a senior member of the organization. Good collaborations require differences of opinion. And tension between ideas can be valuable in teasing out the critical issues necessary for the best decision. Avoiding group think is just as important as managing emotional outbursts. Confrontation, however, can come in many forms and constructive confrontation does not have to destroy the confronted… and rarely does. Sometimes humor can provide a face saving alternative to an escalating situation, or a really good question can reframe the problem. Advance planning, when you know you have a person with strong and contrary views, may allow you to explain the contrarian’s views in an objective and non-emotional form before they speak. It’s all about balance. As Sulkowicz says, a key can be empathizing with the person you’re confronting air max clearance. Your mindset when you do that will help you be the honest broker for the group, enhance the quality of the contributions of all and improve the likelihood of a successful conclusion to the discussion.

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About John

“John Abele is a pioneer and leader in the field of less-invasive medicine, For more than four decades, John has devoted himself to innovation in health care, business and solving social problems.” He is retired Founding Chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation. John holds numerous patents and has published and lectured extensively on the technology of various medical devices and on the technical, social, economic, and political trends and issues affecting healthcare. His major interests are science literacy for children, education, and the process by which new technology is invented, developed, and introduced to society. Current activities include Chair of the FIRST Foundation which works with high school kids to make being science-literate cool and fun, and development of The Kingbridge Centre and Institute, a conferencing institution whose mission is to research, develop, and teach improved methods for interactive conferencing: problem solving, conflict resolution, strategic planning, new methods for learning and generally help groups to become “Collectively intelligent.” He lives with his wife and two dogs in Shelburne, Vermont.”

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