Check out this wonderful RSA animation about Steven Pinker’s “Language as a Window into Human Nature”
Steven Pinker shows us how the mind turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings.
But I looked at this animation and was triggered by how much this relates to how our economies, companies, teams, ourselves and even exchange of value between these entities are fueled by the relationship mechanisms described in this animation.
In essence, Steven Pinker describes 3 relationship types:
- Dominance relationships. Pretty self-explanatory and what used to be used by primates, but still existing in some companies
- Communality relationships. The mode is “You share and I share alike”, for example in a couple or between friends
- Reciprocity relationships. Business like tit for tat exchanges of goods or services that characterizes reciprocal altruism. This is what we do in commerce. Exchanging money or to a larger extent exchanging of value.
But by not saying the things as they are, and mixing up the conventions that apply to each of these relationships, you end of with…
Awkwardness in the relation, in the team culture, in the team dynamics and illusions of friendship and love. In dating – see my prezi on how to make babies – this awkwardness leads to “the anxieties of dating”.
And it really feels awkward when the confused give a tap on the shoulder or hold an arm, skimming the borderlines of trust.
But saying things “as they are”
getting naked with no defense
or fall-back position
in case it goes wrong
That’s why you best do these things with the guidance of an experimented coach. Somebody who can guide and learn you to take personal leadership, daring to step forward, and daring to take care of expressing our own needs. It’s carving in the underlying energy streams under the table, where emotions such as anger, joy, hate, rejection, love, etc live. To discover and get rid of the hidden agreements and closed circles of the past. Nobody likes being rejected or worse being ignored.
Instead of “getting used to it”, we could develop an emotionally intellectual language for expressing our needs. Something like:
- Trigger: “this specific behavior causes an emotion with myself”
- Emotion: “it makes me sad” or “I feel hurt”
- Underlying need that is not fulfilled: “the need to fully contribute value” or “the need for a unique learning experience” or “the need to be respected” or “the need of not being ignored” etc, etc
- And attaching to this need a “request”, an “invitation”: like “I invite you to fully include me next time”
All this in full authenticity, without manipulation, hidden agendas, power games, and other sorts of obfuscation of the reality.
But something fundamental can change when people meet, when they group in crowds. When they can look each other in the eyes. On a broader scale, think Egypt, Tunesia, Bahrein, etc: when people get together at one place, everyone in that crowd knows that everybody knows that everybody knows.
It leads to the collective power
of the dictator
It’s the story of the emperor’s cloths. And explicit language is an excellent way of creating mutual knowledge.
What if we would start applying
these relationship principles
to our connected economy,
to our connected companies,
to our connected teams,
to our connected self,
or even to our connected value?
This would btw be a great way to organize and thinking and collaborations for Innotribe at Sibos 2011 on 19-23 September 2011 in Toronto.
- Using the theme of the connected “something”, we could bring in technology topics like Digital Identity, Social Cognition, Big Data.
- We could also experiment with some non-technology trends related to Social Capitalism, Future of Money/Value, Corporate culture, Where companies invest long term.
But to come back to the main flow of this post: the Egypt principle of mutual knowledge in a crowd also plays at a smaller level like a team.
But here is the paradox and at the same time the risk and opportunity:
No mutual knowledge
maintaining the fiction
of friendship and love.
However, with mutual knowledge and using an overt language you create the potential of having true team-ship and love. But using overt language also means you can’t take it back when it is out there. We don’t have a fall-back position, we are vulnerable.
But sometimes, one needs to pull a tooth. Pulling the tooth hurts, but you’re happy when it’s gone. Likewise, tapping blood may show black blood, and the tapping may hurt, but once the blood had been rinsed, you’re fit again.
When you let go the masks,
show your authentic self,
only and only then
will we be able
the full team potential
That’s why next week, our team goes on off-site to work on team dynamics. To discover and become fully aware and conscious of relationship types and dynamics, and to double-check whether here or there we don’t need to pull a tooth or to let go some black blood. We probably won’t find anything, but who knows ;^)