Johnnie Moore

Fierce collaboration

Finding space for stronger feelings in collaboration
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Being fierce, and the challenge of collaboration

Transcript of this video:

The other day my friend, Rob Poynton, sent me a copy of his newly revised book, “Do Improv,” which included a two-page interview with me. And when I read it, I realized I was a bit surprised by the person that he appeared to have interviewed who seemed to be a lot more fierce than I thought I was. And was saying things about not liking happy-clappy improv.

And I thought, “Oh no,” I don’t want people to think I’m that kind of person.” And then a bit later I realized, “oh, but I actually sort of thought that was quite interesting.”

And there was something about that version of myself that I secretly quite liked. And that I am at times quite a fierce personality.

And I think I kid myself that I disguise it when sometimes I don’t. And actually that is a part of me. And that if I keep it completely concealed, I’m sort of cheating myself and others of an important part of who I am.

And then earlier today, I read a really interesting post on LinkedIn by Richard Claydon, challenging the whole positive psychology movement and this idea that we need to steer away from supposedly “negative emotions” like, I don’t know, fear, anger, sadness.

And he argued, and I would agree, that actually we need to integrate those emotions in our lives. They’re there for a reason. And we need to, in some sense or other, work with them, not try and live in denial of them.

And he had quite good research to suggest that the positive psychology approach was actually pretty ineffective or even counterproductive.

And also this week, I had a conversation with another friend who said, “Gosh, collaboration’s really difficult.” And I said, “Yes, I think it is really difficult.”

I think we act as if it should be easy when in fact it should probably be difficult. One of my favorite books of the last year or two is Adam Kahane’s “Collaborating with the Enemy,” which really takes this on.

This idea that the most important collaboration is going to be with people we don’t like and it isn’t going to be easy.

And finally, it reminded me of a story told to me years ago by a friend who used this metaphor for relationships. He said, when you are serving a gin and tonic and you’ve got a couple of chunks of ice in the glass, when you shake the glass, you wanna hear those ice cubes chinking against each other.

What you don’t want is for them to have melted and for it just to be a slush. And I think that’s perhaps a better metaphor for how we want our relationships. We want to chink against each other. And it might not always be a pleasant sound, but a sense of different people bumping up against each other rather than trying to merge.

Because I think if we stay in what I sometimes call polite collaboration, I think we’ll often find it just runs out of energy.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

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