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  • Austin Piedmont

Why Is It so Hard to Stand Up to Our Bosses and Colleagues? Community Through Agreement


  • What are you most hesitant about when it comes to this survey?

  • conflict serve to deepen your relationships at work?

  • Being wrong or Having a different perspective from others

  • There’s no way to be wrong on this survey. It’s designed to be highly personal and experiential.

  • And having a different perspective from others is ok and in this case very useful. For example: if you rate a specific element, such as communicaCreating conflict

  • Framing - The fear of creating conflict is a common situation and deeply hardwired into us - agreement gives us a sense of connection and humans need connection. From an evolutionary perspective, humans had to be willing to sacrifice their own best interests for the interest of the group in order to survive. This drive (agreement as a form of connection) makes disagreements at work fairly difficult to handle, many times pushing us towards false agreements. “This desire to be agreeable can sap us of our courage — to say hard things, to experiment (and risk failure), to surface conflict in the face of the agreement of others. The disagreement is still there even when we don't talk about it, so it leaks out in small ways: in the noncompliance with a decision the group seemed to make together." Decisions then don't stick because they're not actual agreements. We're very willing to compromise in order to be fair, but in complex situations compromise can be counterproductive. (source)

  • Reframing - Change mindset to "confront to deepen" Could this tion, much lower than the average (so you rank communication as a 1 while the average is a 6) you can infer that this issue is more personal than organizational. And this is great because by asking deeper questions about why your opinion differs from the group can lead to valuable insights that ultimately lead you to better communication.

  • Being so open

  • It’s completely normal to feel hesitant about being open in this way. But while being open can feel uncomfortable in the moment, it’s generally what’s best in the long-term. Conversely, it’s easier in the short term to stay closed-off, but very costly in the long-term.

  • Fear of retaliation (biting the hand that feeds you)

  • Just to reiterate what was mentioned early - this survey won’t and can’t be used to take any disciplinary action.

  • However, if you’re nervous about this, perhaps it’s something really useful to examine and include in your answers during the survey. Have you experienced situations within Synthesis that make you nervous to voice your opinion? If so, it would be really helpful to mention this in the survey.






But, before getting started on answering questions, let’s talk about the foundational level - a fourth level that is the support and foundation for the other three. This level focuses on expansion vs. contraction

  • Expansion in an organization - Expansion in an organization is rooted in trust and vulnerability. Being in a state of expansion opens us up to developing both personally and professionally, strengthens our relationships to our colleagues through honesty and reflection, and generally promotes a healthy culture within an organization. However, this is easier said than done. Expansion requires vulnerability and trust, which can be very difficult. Being vulnerable means opening ourselves up to uncomfortable situations or feedback. While being vulnerable can be uncomfortable in the short-term, it generally leads to a more fulfilled self and healthier organization in the long-term.

  • Contraction in an organization - When we contract, we’re putting up walls of defense and trying to prevent vulnerability. Many of us rationalize contraction by thinking things like: I need to always look smart and competent in front of my colleagues or pointing out a colleagues mistake could get them in trouble so I’m doing a good thing by avoiding bringing this up or speaking my mind could really dampen the mood of this meeting so it’s better if I keep to myself. While this can work in the short-term, closing ourselves off to vulnerability and in-turn expansion, we are preventing the development of ourselves and our colleagues in the long-term.

  • Contraction hiding as agreement

  • Common situation and deeply rooted - agreement gives us a sense of connection and humans need connection - from an evolutionary perspective, humans had to be willing to sacrifice their own best interests for the interest of the group in order to survive.

  • This drive (agreement as a form of connection) makes disagreements at work fairly difficult to handle, many times pushing us towards false agreements

  • "These are mind traps when we believe that agreeability is a virtue and that disagreement should be fixed with compromise."

  • The word "family" is a common descriptor when people get along well with others in their organization. However, our "family instincts" gives us a disadvantage when facing complexity. (the disfunction of green in Reinventing Organizations)

  • Social loafing - groups tend to focus on data they already have and what they've already agreed upon, which means we "withhold contradictory data so necessary to finding good solutions in complexity. We drive disagreements underground."

  • "At organizations where people most want to belong, the fear of not belonging is amplified. Here people whisper, "Folks around here are trying so hard to be nice to each other that they're not willing to be honest about anything anymore." This desire to be agreeable can sap us of our courage — to say hard things, to experiment (and risk failure), to surface conflict in the face of the seeming agreement of others. The disagreement is still there even when we don't talk about it, so it leaks out in small ways: in the noncompliance with a decision the group seemed to make together."

  • Decisions then don't stick because they're not actual agreements

  • We're very willing to compromise in order to be fair, but in complex situations compromise can be counterproductive.

  • When we can't compromise, we polarize (make people our enemies)

  • Change mindset to "confront to deepen" Could this conflict serve to deepen your relationship?

  • Choosing expansion over contraction during this survey and in the bigger picture - for Synthesis

  • We encourage you to choose expansion during this survey.

  • What if you have feedback that is negative? That’s ok, because feedback that is honest and comes from a state of expansion and vulnerability is incredibly valuable, while positive feedback that comes from a state of contraction is not.

  • If everyone takes this survey from a state of expansion, we’ll end up with an accurate picture of

  • Are you able to proceed with the survey from a mindset of expansion? (y/n)

  • Yes - takes survey

  • No - does not take survey