Employing Differences

Employing Differences, Episode 42: What's important to us?

March 02, 2021 Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis
Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 42: What's important to us?
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Employing Differences
Employing Differences, Episode 42: What's important to us?
Mar 02, 2021
Karen Gimnig & Paul Tevis

"The goal is not to get alignment. The goal is to become aware of range, in a really respectful space where we say 'If it's important to you, it's important to us. If it matters to you, it has space in this space.'"

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript

"The goal is not to get alignment. The goal is to become aware of range, in a really respectful space where we say 'If it's important to you, it's important to us. If it matters to you, it has space in this space.'"

Listen on the website and read the transcript

Watch this episode on YouTube

Karen:

Welcome to Employing Differences, a conversation exploring the collaborative space between individuals.

Paul:

I'm Paul Tevis.

Karen:

And I'm Karen Gimnig.

Paul:

Each episode, we start with a question and we see where it takes us. This week's question is, "What's important to us?"

Karen:

There are two key words in that the first is "important." And I think what we're pointing to there is values, and often not the values that we typically put on our values statement. A lot of groups I work with have things like sustainability as a value, and diversity as a value, and various things. Often the values that we're talking about are more sort of subtle and ingrained and less named than those values, but they're the things that can trigger emotions. They're the things that drive decision-making. And so what are the sort of values things that are important? So that's one of the words in that question. And then the other word I really want to pay attention to is "us," meaning the collective group, all of us that are involved in this conversation, this decision, this work together. Often when we get real about having the conversations we're going to talk about in this episode, what we are actually doing is not so much trying to come together on a consensus sort of value statement, as grow our awareness of the diversity amongst us. So we in the land of Employing Differences, becoming aware of how very different we are, given that for most of us, whatever I think is the case, I also think everybody around me thinks that too. If I can learn that, what I think is only one of the perspectives, and if we can sort of start with just a sharing of the broader values behind the thing that then we're going to have to talk about, and we sort of go, "Oh, amongst us, there's a big range of values." What's important in this room is broad and often conflicting, actually, are competing kinds of values. And if we can know what those are, then we're in a different place to to have the conversation.

Paul:

Yeah, to kind of ground this a little bit, we've talked to some before, a little bit around decision-making. And it can be really useful within group when you're starting to work together or when you're in the thick of it, But it's better if you did at the beginning it to say, hey, when we think about the kinds of decisions that we're going to need to make as a group, what sorts of things are going to be important that we're going to maybe not talk about, but are going to be behind these. So these might be things like, for example, I've worked in teams, where the way we make decisions, like it's really, for some people, it's really important that everybody have their say, that everybody be able to contribute to the decision. And so everyone having a voice is really important. For some people in the group, making a decision quickly is really important. For some of the people making a really good decision, a high quality decision, is important. So if I'm working with a group and we're talking about decision-making, one, they need to start to understand that about each other, because, as you pointed out, it's very easy to think well, because I believe it's important that everybody be heard, clearly everyone else also thinks it's important that everyone be heard. And so it's important start to be able to tease that out, to start to see how other people approach decision-making differently than I do. And two to then start to have the conversations about how, "So what do we want to do when we find ourselves in a situation where it feels like we need to trade some of these off against each other? Or it feels like these are competing with each other? How do we want to start to approach that?"

Karen:

Yeah, and, and I think one of the tricks is if you can see it coming which often you can't but if you can see it coming to start at the values level, and really go deeply into that less tangible, but like what at its core is this kind of going to be about for us. Like where are the places where a range of values are likely to trip us up. If we can see it coming and have that conversation where there are no winners or losers because we're not trying to make a decision. We're not even weighing between things. We're just sharing And then the response is much more likely to be "Really? Wow, I never thought of it that way. I guess I can see why you would think that." And maybe I can even change my mind. But but maybe I don't. The goal is not to get alignment. The goal is to become aware of range, in a really respectful space where we say "If it's important to you, it's important to us. If it matters to you, it has space in this space." And that that kind of is the first step. And I will say that if we don't see it coming, which is probably more common, the hint that you missed that opportunity, and now you may perhaps want to go back and try and get it, is that you're in a conversation and it's really going nowhere, "I want this." "No, I want that." And, and the back and forth, it's really stuck. And especially if what you're saying doesn't make any sense to me and I'm stuck in that. We have a saying in the Imago Relationships work that it's never about what it's about. And I think often we're in that case of the thing that we're tangling about isn't actually the difference. The difference really is fundamentally one of these values things that there isn't space for in the conversation, because we're locked up in a tangible disagreement. So if you find yourself locked in the tangible, that's an indication that perhaps it would have gotten better if you had gotten into values before, and perhaps it will go better if you shift to values now.

Paul:

And one of the really powerful ways to be able to do that, that I found is when I notice myself in a disagreement with someone, and it feels like yeah, we're in that round around, we're not getting anywhere around something, and I can feel it starting to get hot. When I have the presence of mind to be my better self around this, I will stop and say, "This seems really important to you. What about this is important to you? I want to understand that." And sometimes the person in that moment isn't even aware why they care so deeply about it, they just they know that they do, and giving them the opportunity to sort of step back because they may actually know, right at the top of their brain. "So what's important about about this to me is that blah, blah, blah," and it comes right out. And usually when I hear that I go, "Oh, okay, I see how what I am doing is trampling all over something that matters to you. Okay." And I do it not out of knowing that that is important to that person. So, and as soon as I know it, I say "Oh, right." Now I can reflect that back. Right? I can say, "Okay, so what matters to you about this is, your sense of autonomy, your sense of control and choice about this." And they go, "Exactly." And usually there's an immediate relaxation in the in the atmosphere, and then the person there and say, "Okay, so now that I have that information, now we can actually work with it." So if you haven't already had the conversation about what's important to us, at least in the moment, you can ask, "What is important about this to you?" And then maybe if there's space, I can share what's important about it to me, but maybe that's not the most important time to do that.

Karen:

Yeah, and I think a corollary to that so absolutely, to sort of track to why it's important. And as you said, sometimes we don't know. So another tack on that is to connect with the emotion and really get into a place of empathy. And, you know, I'm getting a sense that or I'm imagining that or I'm wondering if you know, you're feeling, you know, really sad about this, really angry about this, really frustrated about this? Is that what you're feeling? Are there other feelings around it? And sometimes that's then an opening to what was important, or what's the thing that's feeling. But sometimes it's also just to sit quietly with that empathy piece of I'm willing to be in the feelings with you for a bit and then see where that goes. But it is another key or cue or hints to what's important.

Paul:

I think one of the things that happens, consciously or subconsciously is that when we're locked in one of those moments, where the relationship gets stuck is where we feel like the other person doesn't care about something that's important to us. And it may just be that the other person doesn't realize what's important to us, or how what is important to us actually showing up in this issue. And so the key to sort of honoring that, of holding that relationship is actually being able to connect about what is actually important to each of us individually and then all of us collectively. Together, we want to try to hold these things. When we know that the rest of the people that we are working with acknowledge that this is what is important to us, then we have a much easier time of engaging. We don't feel like they are discounting what matters for us.

Karen:

And usually, I think that that thing that really matters that important thing isn't the whole thing of the thing that we're talking about. It's embodied in there somewhere, it's tangled up with it, but the decision we're trying to make is only partly about that. And so, you know, this person has their important thing, and the other person has their important thing. And they're each sort of landing on opposite sides of a decision. You know we'll take more time in the meeting, we'll take less time in the meeting some really tangible, binary kind of decision, and they both get locked into their side of it. Often if you get to the core of what's important about it, then the third option, the other solution, the non-binary thing that actually meets the important pieces of both has a chance to show up. And so it becomes a way to get through to that collaborative space.

Paul:

Yeah. When we know what is actually important to everyone, it really expands our possibility of finding an inclusive solution, a solution that really does work for everyone, a solution that at least everyone is willing to move ahead with. If we don't know what those things are, we have much less possibilityof even looking for them. We wouldn't know what they look like if they bite us.

Karen:

Yeah, my friend and col eague, co-author Yana Ludwig say , "If you can't accurately he r, you can't accurately care." A d really pointing to that if w really do understand each o her and get curious and take t e time to listen and ask the q estions about what's important t you, then we can take that i to account and use it to care or, to nurture, to meet the nee s of, to work with collaboratively that other person.

Paul:

Yeah. That sounds like what we're really saying here is that when we take the time, before we get into a conflict, a difficult choice, a difficult situation, if we take the time before that happens to talk about what's important to each of us in the group, individually, we have a much better chance of being able to navigate those things more smoothly. When we're in the middle of those things, it can be really valuable to ask hat's important to the other erson about what's happening ere? What are you not seeing t at makes this a big deal? S metimes it's what are you not s eing about yourself that makes i a big deal to you. Because w en we know what actually m tters to everybody, we have a m ch better chance, a real oppor unity to do the things that atter for all of us. Once we know what everyone values, what is important to everybody, we ca actually take those things int account when we're trying to solve problems.

Karen:

I think that's gonna do it for us today. Till next time, I'm Karen Gimnig.

Paul:

And I'm Paul Tevis. And this has been Employing Differences