Confusing Action and Relationship

At work we often confuse getting things done with doing good work. 

They are not the same thing.

Sometimes the very best work comes precisely from not rushing into anything at all. And when we forget this we sacrifice quality for the sake of production, rushing to do things even when the doing will be manifestly unhelpful.

Similarly we confuse conversations for action with conversations for relationship. We mistakenly think that to solve our difficulties with one another we need to produce things – policies, procedures, processes – rather than turning towards each other in new kinds of conversation.

And so when we are having difficulty trusting our colleagues we make lists of ‘behaviours’ we imagine will help us. We say ‘we’ll be able to trust one another when we have better communication’ and head off into producing plans to have this happen, rather than simply speaking directly and honestly to one another.

We’re scared, of course, because turning towards one another and extending trust and openness requires us to be vulnerable, to take the risk of being seen.

And so we tell ourselves the story that talking is a distraction, and relationship-building soft, when there’s the hard work of ‘work’ to do.

But we forget that all work done with others only happens because of relationship. And that if we’re not attending seriously to relationship as the foundation for all action, we’re not attending seriously to our action at all.

I’ve written more about this here and here.

Photo Credit: VinothChandar via Compfight cc

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