inspiring & vernetzen
Who are the three people you could send this idea to?
Have you ever heard of the “Marshmallow Experiment”? A group of three-year old children were given a marshmallow with the promise that they would be rewarded with another if they didn’t touch the first for at least five more minutes. The children who demonstrated self-control, managed to wait patiently were, of course, successful. But those who were only focused on the nearest, immediately gratifying goal (the marshmallow), gave in to the power of their craving instead of living up to the cultural task of postponement and deferral.
Leadership always requires the combination of two alleged opposites to be successful: cognition and intuition, rationale and instinct, patience and speed. But let’s get back to our Jamaica coalition. What if the negotiating parties had taken the time to find a more distinctive expression for their project – maybe something like “Mindshifting” instead of “Jamaica”? The talks would probably have had a better chance simply because Jamaica conjures up images of palm trees, reggae, smoking joints, and cocktails on the beach rather than serious deliberations.
By the way, the long-term observation and monitoring of the Marshmallow Experiment showed that those children who could postpone, i.e. “sublimate”, were generally more successful than those of the comparison group – not only in their professional roles, but also in all other areas of their adult lives.
“Take it slow when you’re in a hurry”, my granny used to say. It’s common wisdom. So, for your next communication task I recommend trying the 3D communication model: Dialogue, Discussion, Decision
I am convinced that without dialogue, there is no solution space for constructive discussions and decision-making. Etymologically, dialogue derives from the Ancient Greek terms of “dia”, which means “through, per”, and “logos”, which stands for a variety of meanings such as "word", "speech", "opinion", "discourse”. A dialogue is a process of mutual understanding, characterised by “AND”, not “BUT”. This stands in contrast to a discussion. A discussion implies debate, argument, and emphasizes the differences – the “BUT”. The decision, though, only becomes possible when both the dialogue and the discussion provide the required frame and direction for a fruitful solution.
I strongly recommend establishing a communication culture that puts the dialogue (the “AND”) before the discussion (the “BUT”). This is particularly difficult for us Germans, for whom expressing “BUT” is considered a sign of intellect.
Methodologically, the 3D order creates deceleration. It requires active listening and understanding, and authentic and meaningful conversation. Try to avoid rhetoric in phase one (dialogue), and instead encourage relevant contributions that are designed to meet needs and lead to true understanding before entering into the discussion phase. Try also not to intermix the two phases. This type of 3D leadership will enlarge your solution space through better understanding, greater trust and more stringent differences (discussions), and lead to better and more sustainable decisions. This does not contradict the notion, though, that a quick decision tops a slower one.
You might now be thinking: “So what’s new? This is nothing I don’t already know”. Perhaps. But... are you putting it into practice? Maybe my Trojan Horse works. Maybe, the next time you read or hear “3D”, you will be reminded of my words.