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Do others irritate you enough?

A crucial part of undertaking a consultancy assignment, especially with a new client, is the interpersonal dynamics.

Importantly, can I make a difference and am I going to enjoy this engagement? If the answer to both questions is not a firm yes, then I must ask myself: ‘why am I here?’

One of the key ingredients for a productive and enjoyable assignment is making sure that there are some opposing views that create challenge; views that develop constructive dialogue.

In extreme cases, we may encounter people whose approach is ‘I am right, you are wrong’. All too often this happens because the person has a fixed mindset, and is unprepared to take a look at the issue from someone else’s perspective. (By the way, that person may well be ourselves.)

It is of immense value that people in the team do have different views, different ways of seeing the world; and crucially, do voice their point of view, and listen to other points of view as well. This can avoid the demon of group think.

An often-overlooked part of the cocktail is the behavioural preferences of people on the team. We want people who will be logical, seemingly lacking any feeling. We want people who can be emotive. People who can almost seem too concerned for other people’s feelings. People who are action focused. People who may even dare to procrastinate. It is only when we have such a cocktail, when trust is developed, respect earnt, challenge of the issue encouraged, that the co-creation of something better becomes probable.

It can at times be hugely irritating when our world view has been challenged, yet do reflect on the wise words of the Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung:

‘Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.’

So, perhaps a useful question to ask: do I need to be irritated a little more?

Peter Johnson is a member of WCoMC and a freelance Chartered Management Consultant.

Monday 6th December 2021
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