Are you Downloading, Debating or in Dialogue?

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Welcome back to the Positive Power series. Here’s part 3 at the team and organization level of “WE”. Let’s see what interactions you see happening around you. Otto Scharmer discerns four levels of conversation in organizations. Downloading People are talking nice, they are polite. They reenact the rules of conversation. They “download” a conversation format. They hear what they expect …

Are you afraid of feedback?

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Without honest, constructive and engaged feedback there can be no learning. You need to know whether to continue and all is well – or whether to adjust what you do. Feedback is simply information from the system. When you go bowling feedback tells you how many bowling pins you floored. Your HR dashboards tell the number of sick days and …

How do you respond to gossip?

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How do you feel when someone gossips or complains about someone else? It depends, of course. It can be great to agree because it creates a feeling of bonding. “The two of us agree and it’s us against that person or that issue”. It can be such a relief to vent. But it may not be what you’d like to …

How to train your listening skills?

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The counterpart of Inquiry is Listening. As we are often in telling mode and we value doing over being, listening may not come naturally. I assume that we could all use the exercise below and repeat it from time to time. I myself have to slow down, focus my attention and practice patience. I’m always tempted to jump in and …

Possibility-oriented questions

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In the last post, we have seen that our behavior follows our questions. For instance, I could complain about the lack of response to my emails. I could ask limiting questions that focus on finding the culprit. Why do they not even have the courtesy to reply? Who ignores my emails? These questions will make me feel annoyed and not …

What do you ask to influence others?

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In our culture of telling, to ask can be judged as ignorance while leaders are supposed to know what to do. Telling is expected and respected. And it feels so good to give advice, thinking we have solved someone else’s problem! But wise leaders use questions to engage people and encourage them to take ownership. Looking at the lack of …

The art of asking

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Humble Inquiry is the art of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer. It is building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person, says Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry. Our culture is biased toward telling. When in telling mode, we hope to educate, impress, or to entertain. Western, egalitarian and …

Silence, Violence or Flow?

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What kind of interactions are taking place around you? A helpful discernment is whether there is silence, violence, or a natural flow in a conversation – as described in Patterson’s a.o. book Crucial Conversations. In crucial conversations there is a lot at stake and we often hold things inside by going silent until we can take it no longer—and then …

Are you congruent?

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In every interaction there are three levels that influence its effect and meaning: What – the content; the words I say How – the process; how I say it (nonverbal communication) Why – the intention; the meaning, what I am trying to accomplish with this interaction. We tend to focus on What people say and are less aware of the …

Positive Communication

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“Every professional context is created by the conversations that people have. (..) Every moment of interaction is important. Positive communication can help create positive organizational climates, high-quality relationships, and affect a wide range of outcomes such as health, learning, or morale.” That’s what researchers Julien Mirivel and Ryan Fuller found out. Even something as simple as the absence or presence …

Do others still bother you?

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You, too, are probably mistreated in one way or another. You might be overlooked, blamed, discriminated against, criticized in one context or another. But you still have the choice to see the other as a whole person. That is what great people did: they did not become bitter by their unjust treatment and saw others only as demons or caricatures. …

Do you engage in drama?

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A well-known example of Ego-interaction is the “drama triangle”, described by psychologist Stephen Karpman. One of your self-justifying narratives could be the prosecutor, the victim, or the rescuer. The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” He feels oppressed, helpless, hopeless, ashamed, and can’t make decisions, solve problems, etc. The Victim always finds a Persecutor and a Rescuer – who both perpetuate …