I was faced with a dilemma this week when anticipating a conversation about working with a new colleague. I am keen to work co-operatively but encountered a potential difference of opinion regarding a fundamental approach to change. Essentially it was a split between a belief that behaviour is everything (I am what I do) and a belief that change must come from within (I do what I am).

For me the difference points to the question of authenticity. Well trained sales people have adopted the successful behaviours that made others great but my experience is I ‘know’ when I am being sold to and doubt the sincerity of such pitches. People who I experience as genuinely good sales people have a series of personal qualities that imperceptibly create a sense of trust and sells more than the product.

The point of the dilemma however is that I really want the collaboration to work and could see that I was setting up a dichotomy between my way and hers with no space in between for a meeting of minds.

As it happened, a coaching conversation with a friend helped me out of the bind I had created for myself. I was able to see how I was constructing my problem by holding my beliefs about change too firmly – there are, after all, only beliefs. I could choose to step back from the dilemma and see it from a more detached point of view. There is merit to both sides and the essence of collaborative working is to explore the value – not to negate it.

Holding my own ‘theory’ lightly means that I am able to look forward to a much more generative conversation that the one I was anticipating earlier this week and how I begin a conversation usually determines how it goes…

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