Cooperation not Competition

Do you live in a hostile world? That is to say, do you feel like you are in competition with the people and organizations around you? A thoughtful answer to this question will go a long way to uncovering your “expectation of the world” from the people and organizations around you.

In many ways, what we “expect will happen” will happen, because of the way we “pre-frame the experience”. Aggression is met with aggression, competitiveness is met with competition. Attorneys are particularly susceptible to this human trait. It is reinforced in society and through education that attorneys are supposed to “anticipate” circumstance to favor their clients’ needs. This natural human trait becomes exaggerated through learned behavior. This behavior becomes so second nature that it dominates professional interactions, and then it leaks over into personal interactions as well.

People who “anticipate” tend to not be “present” and during communication this is obvious and immediate. “Anticipative listeners” are in competition with the communication and thereby in competition with the speaker. Not being a “present listener”, frames the experience of the communication for both sides of the conversation as a competition. The listener will feel impatient as they have already jumped ahead and want to give an answer as quickly as possible to control the interaction and “win”. Things get worse if the “anticipative skills” of the listener are not on the mark; frustration will spread to both sides. Even when “anticipative skills” are on the mark, the listener will get no praise. Because the speaker is told, albeit through “unspoken communication”, [by the listener] “I am smarter then you, I can think faster than you, and if you want to compete for my full attention you have to talk to me about something important.” Successful business and personal communication needs to be positive in approach and “cooperative”. You have to be “present”.

If you do feel like you are in “competition” with the people and organizations around you, then you will tend to feel like you are in a hostile world. How we communicate gives clues to our perspective. People will adjust to meet that perspective in order to communicate on the same frequency. In this way the relationship is set by the communication and reinforces the “expectation” that initiated the communication. Everyday-life decisions that we make are colored by our expectations and our perceived relationship to others. What we expect to happen tends to happen, as a mechanism of our expectation. There are times to be in a competitive mode but there are far more opportunities to be in “cooperative mode”.

Advocacy is communication, and successful communication takes two people who are open to be “present” and “actively” cooperating to resolve issues important to the parties. If you live in a hostile world, change the world. Make a start by changing the way you frame the world and the world will change how it frames you.