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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Answer to How is Yes #5: Sustaining the Touch of Intimacy

thought-leadersIntimacy is an awkward word to use in the context of the workplace.

We usually associate intimacy with romantic relationships, family relationships, and close friendships… in that order.

Block highlights the importance of this human, relational, connected, interactive, interdependent reality of working with other people.

As you know, I have long counted “Intimacy” as one of the five fundamental “Cries For Life” that, when working with people, we need to account for. So I was very excited to jump headlong into this subject.

I came away from this chapter a bit hungry still.

I thought Block did a better job warning of the dangers of virtual relationships, marketing based relationships, and digital isolation than he did of proposing strategies and ideas for building intimacy into one’s workplace relationships and culture.

Having said that, I did come away thinking hard myself.

The issue of showing up versus hiding at work arose for me. I can choose whether to bring myself fully to my work and the other team members or I can hide. I hide when I email the person sitting around the corner from me. I hide when I keep ideas for improvement to myself to avoid criticism. I hide when I don’t communicate how someone else’s mistakes affect my work negatively.

I show up when I can communicate directly, regularly, sensitively, and without manipulation. I show up when I put my ideas out on the table and engage others in their benefits and downsides. I show up when I confront problems without anger or pouting.

I can also build intimacy by surrounding myself with people who are different than myself. The diversity of skills and styles will not only combine to build a stronger team, but the interdependence will result in higher levels of trust, motivation, and empowerment. People are much more responsive to a leader who needs and values their unique contribution than one who merely gives all the orders and makes all the decisions.

Collaboration can feel as much like a painful wrestling match as it can a delightful dance number. More contact, more communication, and more knowledge of each others’ personal styles, preferences, capabilities, weaknesses, etc. In a word… more intimacy.

I‘m a big believer in more of each other. More time. More overlap. More knowledge. More interdependence. More trust. More communication. More debate. More celebration.

What about you? How intimate would you describe your workplace to be? Its benefits? Its downside?

What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.

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