Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Gaining Cooperation From Others


The hero’s journey is for the very, very few.  I did it my way, I slaved away in a garret and got to the top, I realised the American dream – all good stuff, but an illusion for most.  The reality is there are more of us who need the cooperation of others, than those who can succeed despite others.  The age of the "one" has been taken over by the age of the "many".  Hero teams are more powerful than individual heroes.

The problem is although we made need the cooperation of others, we are not that good at it.  We limit our scope through two key areas – how we communicate and how we react.  We like what we like and we find affinity with those who like similar things.  We like to speak in a certain way and we click with others who speak the same way.  It might be a shared accent, denoting a similar background, and we are all pretty good at spotting the subtleties of dialect.  That is okay, but it still doesn’t help us to go far enough.  You might share a common accent, but that doesn't mean you get on with everyone.

Reflecting the preferences of others is a much more effective way of building trust and cooperation.  Does this mean being two faced and manipulative?  No, it means being flexible and other focused rather than me, me, me focused. 

When we are speaking with others we notice the way they prefer to communicate.  It will vary from very low energy to high output - softly spoken to plain loud.  Neither side likes the other much.  The loud person can’t hear the softly spoken person and feels annoyed, because they have to struggle to hear what they are saying.  The softly spoken person is quietly upset, because they don’t like people who are loud and aggressive.

The key here is to adjust ourselves to suit the situation and the other person, if we want to gain their cooperation.  If you say, "well I am me, I have my rights and they should adjust themselves to how I like it" then let me know how that is working out for you. 

We will need to increase our energy and volume when we speak with high output people.  We may feel like we are screaming, but on their scale all we are doing is communicating normally.  The opposite applies, when we have to drop the volume and the strength.  We may feel like we are whispering and it is killing us, but the counterparty feels very comfortable chatting with you.

Some individuals are really detail oriented, they are constantly seeking data, proof, evidence about what they are being told.  When we interact with this group, we notice the micro focus immediately and so we need to start adding a lot more detail to our explanations or recommendations.  We may feel this is too nitty gritty and frankly, massive overkill, but that is not how they see it.  For them this is absolutely normal and unremarkable.

The opposite preference is for big picture discussions.  Don’t worry about the details, the practicality, the roll out - we will get to that later.  They want to plot the future direction in broadbrush terms.  For detail oriented people this is painful, because everything seems fluffy and unrealistic.  Don’t fight it – encourage them to go big and go with them.  Put up some crazy ideas (from your evidence based thinking point of view) of your own and don’t feel guilty.  They will welcome all crazy ideas, including yours

When we hear something we don’t like, we often react first and think later.  Bad approach!  Instead, bite your tongue and hear them out – don’t jump in over the top of them with your counter idea or cutting comment.  Use a "cushion", a sentence that is neither for or against what they are saying.  It is a neutral statement, used to simply break our usual pattern of too rapid intervention. 

Before we comment or attempt to criticise them, we instead ask them why they think that or why they say that.  While they are providing some background and context around their position, we are able to bypass our immediate chemical reaction and reach deeper down to our calmer second or even third, considered response.  When we do speak we may even accept their position because the context made sense or able to suggest a counter position.  We can do this in a calm way that doesn’t lead to an argument and bad feelings.


Two actions on our part will build the trust and establish the lines of communication required to convince other to help us on hero team journey.  Speak in a reflective manner and don’t react immediately to what you are hearing.


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