I think we’ve all been there before. You hit that brick wall where two or more people refuse to budge and productivity or growth is at a standstill.
Whether it’s our business or personal relationships, it can be frustrating, stressful, and sometimes scary depending on the severity of the outcome.
Growing up with three brothers I can specifically recall numerous instances where we’d all have to work together, or we’d all lose out in some way.
One time in particular my older brother and I were arguing over some bubble gum after a little league baseball game. Rather than come up with some good arguments as to why I should have some of his, I just took it from him.
Yes, I got socked in the face.
It wasn’t the wisest of decisions I’ve made in my life but I understand his reaction. I’m not suggesting we go around clocking people in the heads, but rather we take a second to understand why we do what we do.
Since we’re human, it only makes sense to dive a littler deeper into the topic.
Modern Day Dangers
Sometimes cooperation can be a little hard to embrace or follow since we operate on fundemental levels of self-interest from time to time.
Our survival is dependent on the avoidance of pain and the pursuit (and repetition) of pleasure.
Though in these modern times we rarely have to flee from predators; our sources of pain have shifted to become more societal, intellectual, emotional, and rooted in our communication.
When we’re engaged with others verbally and emotionally, especially those we love or are in a relationship with, our limbic system (the part of the brain that’s plays a significant role in your self-preservation) can override our logic and reason.
There’s a shortcut in our circuitry that allows us to act before we think. This is how good people who mean well, can sometimes say or act in ways that they may later regret.
Reasons For Engagement
One successful way to aid in avoiding those brick walls, or regrettable circumstances when trying to cooperate, is to reflect on and understand each others motives. Here’s a simple way to look at it.
INTEREST + INVOLVEMENT = MOTIVE
How concerned, attentive, and invested we are tells us our level of interest.
Our willingness to participate, engage, or be open to action is our degree of involvement.
Add the two and we create our tendency or level in which we decide, consider, or agree upon on a certain circumstance – our motive.
The Oldest Argument In The World
The toilet seat argument. Men and women have been going back and forth on this for generations.
Leave it up? Leave it down? Who’s right here?
Rarely, if ever, does this argument have anything to do with toilets or toilet seat positions. Instead, it’s basis stems from consideration, affection, and trust (and not wanting to fall into the toilet in the middle of the night).
See, it’s really a matter of self and courtesy rather than being about order or organization.
Paths To Problem Solving
I’m a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey’s win-win terminology where 1+1= 3. In other words: You win. I win. We win. When we hold this as the goal of our negotiations nobody loses.
Lets apply this to the toilet seat argument.
A win-win solution would be that if the man uses the bathroom last he leaves the toilet seat down, and if the woman uses it last, she puts the toilet seat up.
Joking aside, the idea is that solutions are being made between the two of you where no-one has to sacrifice or compromise. That just stirs up resentment and bitterness down the line.
Cooperation is all about mutual benefit.
Besides, if you’re arguing over something as trite as the toilet seat, toothpaste, or some other non life-threating situation, realize that you’ve got it fairly good compared to a lot of other couples out there.
Now, whether or not your particular outcome will be positive depends on a number of things. A lot of cues and signals that take place between two individuals get neglected when we’re busy listening to the words.
Our expressions, tone, current attitudes and beliefs all play a part in creating our willingness to cooperate (or not).
It’s Not Always Going To Work Out
Remember that in order to cooperate you need the buy-in of another person (or a group). We can try to cooperate all we want, but one vote casted in this type of dynamic will not be enough.
Such is life.
Embracing and realizing we have no control over someone else and external factors is a big step in the right direction.
You can kick and scream all you want, but the decision to cooperate comes from within and cannot be forced.
This doesn’t mean you give up on doing the right thing, or stop working together with others towards a common goal. You still have the ability to choose the responsible and respectful decisions and actions.
What’s your take on this? Do you find it easy or difficult to negotiate or cooperate? How has it affected your business and personal relationships? Will you be purchasing a urinal now? Leave a comment below and let me know…
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Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery