This is the first “writing out loud” excerpt from the working draft of Adam Kahane’s new book, “Collaborating with the Enemy: An Open Way to Work with People You Don’t Agree With or Like or Trust,” to be published by Berrett-Koehler in 2017. Adam is keen to engage with interested readers around this material as he develops it.
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To get things done, we almost always need to work with others. If these others are people we agree with and like and trust, then we can easily move forward on getting things done. But if they are people we don’t agree with or like or trust, then we can easily get stuck. We get stuck when we say: “I could never work with those people!”
What do we mean by this exclamation? Maybe we mean that we don’t want to work with those people—that we think it’s not desirable. Maybe we mean that we are not able to—that we think it’s not possible. Or maybe we mean that we don’t need to—that we think it’s not necessary.
If we think that it’s not desirable or possible or necessary to work with certain others, then of course we won’t. Instead we will try either to work without them or against them: to avoid them or to defeat them. In these situations, then, we see that our best option is to act unilaterally: to push ahead as we see fit, to do what we want to, to have it our way. In these situations, then, our best option is not to collaborate with those people.