How to work with other people

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It’s easy doing things when you don’t need to work with anyone else.

There is no need to consult, persuade, argue, manipulate, coerce or flatter someone to get what you want.

But that’s what we need to do in real life – groups of people can produce more if they work well together than an individual toiling on his or her own.

So what is it that will make this process of working with others easier?

It might make sense to start with how you see yourself and your relationship with others. The Johari window is a technique that helps do this.

It’s a 2×2 matrix that looks at what you know or don’t know compared to what others know or don’t know.

The picture above is an adapted form to see what can be done rather than what is already in place, which was the purpose of the original work.

First, there are things that you and the person you need to work with know. This is a common space, where you can both discuss, agree or disagree based on common knowledge.

It is a collegial space where you can feel like equals.

Then, there are things that others know but you don’t know. These can be character flaws, research findings, inside knowedge about business politics and so on.

These are your blind spots, the things that will come back to bite you. For example, if someone knows you get angry in meetings, they can prod you to explode and undermine your credibility in a crucial setting.

After that come things that you know but others don’t know. This is where you get the opportunity to share, teach and perform.

Done well, people will appreciate your effort. Done badly, you will come across as superior or egotistical.

Finally, there are things that you don’t know and others don’t know. You’ll need to work together to explore the way ahead.

It seems like a good way to think about working with a new team or a new person is to work your way around the matrix.

Figure out the things you have in common, identify and eliminate blind spots on all sides, learn and share information with each other and work together to create new ideas, knowledge or capability.

Sounds simple.

But, is it easy to do?

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