By Vanessa F. Hurst
Even in organizations where coworkers generally work well together, personal agendas can threaten to derail a seemingly stable project. Worse, team members might not even recognize how their baggage is destabilizing the collective effort. When individuals are aware of how their personal assumptions and judgments align with the goals of a given project, misunderstandings are prevented and the project runs more smoothly.
Often employees may be unaware of their own agendas or believe that following them are in the best interest of the project. During these moments honesty, respect, and trust are key to identifying what is stopping the work process, owning personal motives and agendas, and moving the project to completion.
Honesty is double edged. Each person must be insightful enough to name how their personal agendas, judgments, and perceived needs may be preventing collective creation. This is internal work that need not be shared with others. Rather, the understanding of what is getting in the way of working in the group’s collective consciousness is an internal awareness. Each team member’s intent is to be aware of when their agenda prevents them from working effectively with others.
In times when individual agendas get tangled in with the collective agenda, in order to avoid deeply ingrained conflict, honest is required. Compassionate gentleness is required to honestly pose questions to others. With an open mind and an expanded heart, questions are asked in non-threatening ways.
Perhaps it is believed that someone is unable to move forward because of a personal judgment or assumption. Or, two people who have diametrically opposed ideas may find it difficult to work together. Posing questions compassionately encourages non-defensive responses. The chance of reconciliation and respect increases; feeling threatened or defensive decreases.
Honesty need not be hurtful. Speaking with the intent for the good of all requires honesty coupled with respect. While each person may not agree with everyone, choosing respect creates a bridge that leads to understanding. Respect unlocks the gateway to collective consciousness. This is where the true work can be accomplished. Within the collective consciousness, all members hold unified values and work toward the common good. Trust of one another is a value in this mindset.
Another aspect of the collective consciousness is the creation of a safe space. The best work, individually and collectively, occurs when team members feel safe. Trusting that others will not be harsh or hypercritical is implicit. What another says is heard is saying differently. Words that may have seemed hurtful now become critiques accomplished with compassion. Listening with respect is the norm. Each member understands and trusts that decisions will not be made haphazardly.
Honestly, respect, and trust create an atmosphere where the effects of personal agendas are diminished and production increased. Each works toward a common goal trusting that the way to achieve it is dynamic and flexible. Personal agendas are respected but prevented from derailing projects.
Vanessa F. Hurst is a community builder who works with organizations to identify compassion aspects of their culture and to create a collaborative environment. She consults with organizations to strengthen relationships with current stakeholders and invites new stakeholders to the community.