Communities are Conservative, Business is Progressive
There is an inherent conflict between communities and companies. Communities (family, neighbourhood, tradition) try to maintain stability. Companies are driven by the nature of the capitalism market system to innovate and change. (See Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” on wikipedia) .
Stability vs Destruction
Companies close their factories and replace deeply experienced craft men with young computer geeks who can build the model inside a CAD/CAM system. Companies move accounts payable from outside of town, to outside of the continent and 25 middle managers who have spent 25 years working in accounts no longer have a workplace to go to. The community is hit by this loss of incomes and hope.
What is the right balance between Creative Destruction (Capitalism) and Stability (Community)?
This may be a moot question – Creative Destruction is an international, intercontinental force. A community has little power to decide “we will step outside of this cycle”.
Europe is facing this on a brutal scale. These two forces are pulling the euro project in many directions, testing political will, raising emotions. Karl Marx predicted that capitalist society would come to this point – debasement of the money supply (otherwise known as Quantitative Easing), greater and greater proportion of profit going to the owners of capital (not labour), monopolistic tendency in industries. His view was that capitalism would inevitably collapse under its own success.
Community has provided the softening balance that has kept capitalism from collapsing under its own successes. However we face an intense conflict. We don’t have free markets, we have crony capitalism. The banks that should have failed, were not allowed to fail. The bankers at the center of the capitalism disaster turned to community to save themselves – and community did.
Capitalism is needed to innovate, but Community is needed to soften the harsh blows and to save capitalism from its own failings.
Changing and Caring
Entrepreneurship is needed in society, in public service, in schooling as much as it is needed in business. The modern world needs a continual updating mechanism – otherwise our nation will be left behind. We have found no other comparable mechanism than the market to continually improve products, services and people (evolution is a sort of market mechanism).
Society needs a balancing function. The brutal consequences of competition – loss of jobs, loss of value of skills, unemployment, increasing cost of debt servicing… need people who can support us in tough moments.
This conflict is always going to be there. Society wants stability. Global markets force change.
How can society cope with the ever increasing speed of global change? What happens when companies innovate fast? How can we help communities accommodate the increased pace of change?
It is Messy, isn’t it
I don’t have any simple answers. I am currently taking the course “Moral Foundations of Political Systems” on Coursera with Yale Professor Ian Shapiro. Over the past 5 weeks we have moved through Enlightenment, to Utilitarianism, to Marxism and this week onto Social Contract theory. I love several moments in the course where Shapiro asks a simple question to the partipants… they give a go at what seems a simple enough question… and then he smiles and says “it is messy, isn’t it. You can’t take the politics out of human decisions.”
You finish your pitch and the customer says: “Your product is too expensive!”. You arrive home, you’re a few minutes late: your partner says “You are always late!”. At a dirty plate left on the table: “you never wash the dishes!”
What do you say in this moment?
How do you handle objections? It is possible to take proactive control of your emotional state. You can practice a habit of not reacting like a viper snake or a cornered bear. It will improve how you sell, it will improve how you manage… and it will improve the quality of your relationships.
I posted a short video yesterday to my YouTube Channel explaining a concept that I teach in my class on persuasion: “Aikido Conversation”.
From: “What I want to say”
The most important step in persuasion is being able to leave behind “what I want to say” and move to what “they need to hear”. It requires emotional control that we don’t have as standard.
To: “They need to hear”
When someone gives you an objection, or accuses you of something – the real issue is underneath, not at the surface. If you react with what “I want to say” you will have a fight, you will lose the opportunity to understand what is really at issue.
You finish your pitch and the customer says: “It’s quite expensive”… “Your product is too expensive!”
You arrive home, you’re a few minutes late: your partner says “You are always late”
At a dirty plate left on the table: “you never wash the dishes”
What do you say in this moment?
Most of you, and myself included, went through 14 years of school where we were taught one way to respond to questions:
Teacher asks questions “how do you spell cat?”
Student: “C A T”
Teacher: “what is the biological process called osmosis?”
Student puts hand up explains in detail the process through which cell membranes allow water to go from one side to the other.
So for 14 years you’ve been taught that you provided an answer to a question. If you went to university you probably had another 3,4 years where you gave answers to questions… but in real life, in persuasion in getting to what the other person is really about, what their needs really are the worst thing you can do is give an answer to question. If someone says “your product is too expensive” and you said “no it’s not! it’s only €1000” you’ve lost every chance to understand what else is behind their reasoning.
If you get home and your partner says “you’re always late!”
“No no no! Tuesday I definitely was here on time”… you’re gonna have a crap weekend
You’ve had 14, if not 18 years of training that you answer questions and it’s going to cause fights in your home life, it’s going to cause problems at work, it means you’re not selling anything.
Because when someone says your product is too expensive, that’s not what their real issue is. When someone says “I will have to speak to my boss” that’s not what their real issue is.
If we had lots of time here I would create a little role-play thing because what happens here in our model of the human brain: the stem, emotion
When your partner says “you’re always late” emotion goes up and what happens is this part disconnects. The way to make someone stupider is insult them, object to them tell them they are wrong. When asked a question there’s an emotional reaction.
Emotion up, Intelligence down
and the higher emotion goes
the lower thinking goes
so if you don’t practice this response you’re not going be able to do it in the moment. if you don’t practice repeatedly how you’ll respond to
“you’re always late!”,
“you never wash the dishes!”,
“you never do your part of the share!”
“your product is too expensive!”,
“your competitor is better!”,
“you failed us 3 years ago!”
“I don’t trust your company!”
if you don’t practice this habit of not giving an answer. You’re not going to be able to do it in the heat of the moment.
So i would say this: when you are asked a question or given an objection what I want you to do is say “I understand”, and repeat in your words what they’re saying:
Them: “your product is too expensive!”
You: “I understand that money is an important factor for you, What other criteria will be used in taking this decision?”
You understand… and you give an open question back. I call this “Conversation Aikido”
Martial Arts are about using the energy, the force of the opponent against them. In Judo, if someone punches you pull their arm and you allow the energy to keep flowing. In Karate… don’t be where the energy is arriving. In Aikido the concept is you go towards the punch, go towards the energy
If someone punches you, if someone asks you a question, if someone objects or says you’re wrong: The Aikido method is go towards and see the world from their view.
In Aikido you learn to go towards the punch, dodge it, and look and you are seeing the world in the same direction as the person who’s attacking you.
It takes some habit to start to be able to give “I understand” and fill in good words so practicing
“you’re always late!”…
“I understand you feel frustrated”
“I understand you feel let down”
You will have to work on this quite a few times over the next 10 years to find the set of words that captures what the other person feels, what’s behind it
“What can we do now?”
“What happened during the day?”,
“What would you like to talk about?”,
“What can we do this weekend?”
so that is the way that instead of when you get punched, walking straight into the punch, having a very bad weekend; when a client says “you’re too expensive!” and you say “No we are not!”: You learn nothing:
about who else they are considering
what other criteria are important
what process they have gone through
who else is involved in the decision
I hope that, and this takes 14 years of it being drummed into you… 4 more, 18 if you went to university. It’s gonna take you at least 18 years to get out of the habit of responding to questions with answers
We live in an uncertain world and we don’t have the answers but by giving the answer we shut down the possibility of hearing what’s really going on in the other person’s mind, in the other person’s business, what other things are going on; so if someone says:
“your product is too expensive” -> “I understand that money is an important criteria for you what other things are important in this decision?”
“I’ll have to talk to my boss in this” -> “Hey, this is an important decision I understand you want to get everyone involved” “When can I come and meet with you and your boss together?”
…that’s a bit of a closed question…
but the habit here is being good at “I understand” and accepting the energy that is coming from the other person and then giving back an open question
and I guarantee that if you do it 4 times: the answer to your 4th open question begins to be what’s the real underlying need issue, interest of the person that you’re listening to.
This is a guest post by Tobias Rodriguez. Tobias runs seminars on Conflict Management and is a leading member of Toastmasters in Barcelona. Follow him on twitter [twitter-follow screen_name=’conflictmentor’] or check out his blog.
An ancient Greek storyteller, called Aesop, said: An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died.
Moral of Aesop’s Fable: We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction
The stories we tell ourselves shape our conflicts
The moral of Aesop’s fable is equally true when it comes to conflicts: We often give conflicts the means for our own frustration and breakdown. How? With the stories we tell ourselves about the situation, the other person and especially ourselves. For instance, we often surrender to the impulse of telling ourselves that certain situations will never change, that certain people are hopeless and that we ourselves don’t have what it takes to make it work. This means that, like in Aesop’s fable, we are giving the conflict the power to control us, and thus setting ourselves up for a breakdown. It means, we are preparing ourselves to interact with someone who is hopeless (whether he or she is or not). It means, we are determining that whatever efforts we make, we are intrinsically bond to be a slave to our own inability. With this mindset, the kind of results we can expect is rather obvious!
Voltaire said that common sense is not so common. This is a great example. We know that if we don’t believe in ourselves, there is no chance of achieving our goals. And yet, when we’re dealing with conflicts, the stories we tell ourselves often carry the moral “whatever you do, this is going nowhere.”
Let’s change that! The following are the three stories you can choose to tell yourself when you’re in a conflict. Using these stories, you’ll become empowered to see the conflict in a new light, stop perceiving the other person as fierce enemy, and recognize within yourself the skills and tools to manage the situation.
A conflict is an encounter of apparently incompatible forces
This is my definition of a conflict and I highly recommend it. A definition establishes the meaning of a specified thing. And positive definitions mean positive meanings. Thus, a positive definition of conflict is crucial for effective management. Among other things, this definition does two positive things for you:
it frames the conflict in terms of “compatibility / incompatibly,” instead of the more common “right or wrong” and “good or bad.” These latter terms are much more rigid to work with, because they are profoundly imbedded in us, while differing to some extent from person to person.
it places the focus on what appears to be (“apparently”), thus making the conflict a joint challenge instead of a rival fight: “Let’s see if these forces are in fact compatible or not.”
“The person is not the problem. The problem is the problem” — Michael White
This is also a fantastic story! Imagining that a person is the problem that needs fixing is a risky business, because to fix the problem you’ll need to change the person, and… good luck with that! (I find that people don’t tend to change that easily.) On the other hand, if we look at the conflict as a third party, as an independent object, as a “thing” with a life of its own, we can focus on understanding what effects the conflict has caused on our lives, and how we feel about that. The end result is that the recurring language of blaming and guilt, accusing and shame, criticizing and defensiveness will disappear! New air will invade our minds and enable new understandings.
Conflicts mean we care
This is perhaps the best story of the three, and the most enigmatic. It’s true that some people sometimes do wrong things for the wrong reasons on purpose. That is sometimes. If you take a good look at a good part of the conflicts you experience, you’ll discover otherwise. We’ll see that for some reason or another, we get into conflicts because we care and because the other party also cares. At some fundamental level, there is interest and concern, which means that we are not insignificant to the other person. On the contrary, conflicts mean you are that important to other person that he or she is willing to struggle with you for some good (think about: you would struggle with someone if they were insignificant to you?). And this is a whole new story, because it lets you acknowledge what you have in common and how much you both value it. A whole new frame for a conversation, I would say…
Just like Aesop’s story has come a long way to positively shape our lives, the positive stories we tell ourselves are the glue that keep our dream of happiness together.
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