Laura Dietze at #dareconf 2014

Pushing back blocks empathy. Can you connect instead?

When a colleague makes a suggestion that we fear may harm our chances of success, we tend to “push back” against their position. This confrontation normally leads to neither side being satisfied. But if we connect instead of pushing back, we can move beyond positions and discover the underlying needs. This builds empathy and opens up options we hadn’t previously considered. Continue reading

Edward Snowden

CITIZENFOUR: a challenge to take action against mass surveillance

I saw Laura Poitras’ documentary CITIZENFOUR last week. The heating in the cinema wasn’t working, so it was freezing. We kept our winter coats on. It was if a divine force—or perhaps a piece of government malware—was saying, “if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of here.” Continue reading

Collaboration workshop at #dareconf 2014

Conflict isn’t really about the work, it’s about trust

When we experience conflict about something we’re working on, that conflict isn’t really about the work. It’s about trust between the people in the room.

I learnt this from a participant at a workshop I was facilitating, who I’ll call Adam. We were role-playing difficult conversations from work. Adam was a product manager, and his scenario was a regular meeting where his team of developers prioritised features for the next sprint. One particular developer always seemed to raise the same issue: a feature he thought was important, even though Adam had explained that it wasn’t a priority for the business. As the role-play started, I suggested that Adam use a listening technique we were working on to find out more about what was going on for this developer who always seemed to speak up.  Continue reading

Advocating for “quality” content serves our unmet needs, not user needs

When we advocate for “quality content”, we’re expressing our unmet needs by making a judgment. That doesn’t serve user needs.

During my talk at Confab Barcelona—”Use agile methods to work together on content” (slides below)—I suggested that in order to benefit from agile methods, we choose to “serve user need over content quality”:

Although most people in the room seemed to follow, a few objected: someone stated that user needs and quality are the same thing. Later a friend observed that my statement was provocative. I realised that I’m not interested in provoking people and I didn’t actually explain what I meant. I’ll do that here instead.  Continue reading

Take part in #dareconf—the people skills conference—from anywhere

Gabriel Smy at #dareconf mini
Gabriel Smy at #dareconf mini

It’s almost a year since I organised #dareconf, the people skills conference. We’re back for a second year on 22-23 September, redesigned from the ground up—backstory if you’re interested—and I’m excited to show you the results. The pitch is “skills to help you work together”:  Continue reading

People skills for digital workers, by Jonathan Kahn