Consensus Conduct is a change management process that is characterized by innovative, creative and high-quality actions. Consensus Conduct, elicits commitment from all participants involved to initiate specific actions and utilize all resources available, to enhance self-empowerment skills, to efficiently deal with imbalances (problems) within a balanced interactive manner.
Consensus Management allows for an efficient coaching and facilitation to deal with wide variety of problems – accompanying any change endeavour – especially the more complex and/or more serious issues or a crisis, frequently originating as a result of a difference in opinion, idea, view or perspective.
Interdependency is the foundation or backbone of consensus conduct and efficient coaching events. Today it is a very popular term, and everybody tends to jumps onto the bandwagon (cooperation, co-creation and teamwork) to achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity. Unfortunately interdependency is also a term that is quite often misunderstood and put on pedestal, establishing the illusion that merely applying interdependency principles, will magically solve many interaction difficulties (problems) often associated with communication, teamwork and cooperation.
It is, therefore, necessary to explain what is actually implied by the term interdependency, allowing you to gain a much better understanding of the concept and how to apply or encourage interdependency during a facilitation session using consensus conduct as a tool to do so.
Interdependency is NOT a “separate” or piecemeal psych-up formula. Interdependency should always be viewed in relation (context, harmony or synchronized) to our total interaction with our environment. Interdependency is a sequential, highly integrated approach to the development or unfolding of our personal and interpersonal effectiveness and the efficiency of how we deal with the demands and/or requirements of an event, situation or particular circumstances. Interdependency develops in a progressive continuum (i.e. emotional maturity) from dependence, to independence, to interdependence as a prerequisite for effective and efficient consensus conduct.
We start life as an infant, completely dependent on others. We are educated, taken care of, nurtured and “maintained” by significant others (parents, care takers). Without this support and nurturing, we would only survive for a few hours, or maybe, a couple of days at the most. On the emotional maturity paradigm we are controlled by YOU… you take care of me, you come through for me, you didn’t come through, I “blame” you for the results (either positive or negative).
Then gradually, over the ensuing months and years, we become more and more independent. Physically, mentally, emotionally and financially (body, mind and soul trinity), until eventually we can essentially take care of ourselves, becoming inner-directed and self-reliant. Independence is the paradigm of ME, I can do this, I am responsible, I am self-reliant and I can CHOOSE.
As we continue to grow, mature and develop, we become increasingly aware that all of nature (people, animals, trees, birds, …etc.) is interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs all of creation, and all human activities and societies as well. We further discover that the higher riches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others. Therefore – whether we belief or accept it or not – human existence also is interdependent. Interdependence is the paradigm of WE, we can do it, we can cooperate, we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.
Dependent oriented people need others to get what they want (external locus of control dominated). Independent oriented people can get what they want through their own efforts (internal locus of control dominated). Interdependent oriented people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success (generalist-specialist and independent team player which is a flexible and balanced external/internal locus of control).
Applying dependency, independency and interdependency as a barometer or yardstick to indicate levels of emotional maturity and as a foundation of consensus conduct, we realize that it isn’t such a clear cut and definite scenario as we tend to thing (actually hope that it would be!). Because, the levels and combination of emotional maturity (dependency, independence and interdependency) varies from person to person and from situation to situation. To complicate matters even more, circumstances and the environment also influence our emotional maturity levels. We could act interdependent (highest emotional maturity level) and efficiently participate in consensus conduct the one day, BUT the very next day we are completely dependent (lowest emotional maturity level) and any attempt at consensus conduct, would most likely result in total chaos. For instance….
- If I am physically handicapped – e.g. paralysed, disabled or limit in some physical way – I am physically dependent on the able support of others. However, this DOES NOT automatically imply that I am also emotionally, intellectually, financially, …etc. dependent on others. When I am physically independent, I could pretty well make it on my own. I can ride a bicycle at 12 (independent), but cannot drive a car myself (dependent)… yet!
- Similarly, if I were emotionally dependent and my sense of worth and security would come from your (a specific individual) opinion of me, and you dislike me, it could be quite devastating for me. Specially, if it is a significant other person (e.g. spouse, parent, boy/girl friend) that could normally influence me negatively. BUT when it is another person, who’s opinion I do not hold in high esteem, it wouldn’t bother me at all. Question… Am I emotionally dependent, just normal or care for the opinions of others? Emotional independence validates me from within, I would be inner directed. My sense of worth would not be a function of being liked or treated well by others. However, if I am constantly being referred to by others as that frustrated, old fossil with a limited capacity for understanding… what will happen in the end?
- If I were intellectually dependent, I would count on you to do my thinking for me, to think through the issues and problems of my life. Question…. What about knowledge, experiences in life, expertise, …etc.? Intellectual independence allows me to think my own thoughts, I could move from one level of abstraction to another. I think creatively and analytically, organize and express my thoughts in an understandable manner. As a psychologist, I am intellectually independent when it comes to human behaviour, BUT with nuclear science I am completely intellectually dependent.
- When I am spiritually dependent, I would depend on others and/or circumstances (e.g. the family, church, laws, workplace, …etc.) to establish my norms, values and what I should regard as important in life, based primarily on a value acceptance or rejection by “authoritative” figures. Spiritual Independency allows me to establish my own unique value system that is “true” to my authentic self, and which I hold dear, regardless the views of or oppositions from others.
It is easy to see or realize that independence is a much more emotional mature “level” than dependence. Independence is a major achievement in and on itself. But independence is not supreme, nor the ultimate level of emotional maturity. Unfortunately, the current social paradigm or collective mind-set tends to enthrone independence. It is the avowed goal of many individuals, social movements and self-empowerment techniques. Many self-improvement materials, seminars and courses place independence on a high and mighty pedestal, regarding communications, teamwork and cooperation merely as aspects or methods to strengthen MY own independence. The perception that independence is the ultimate goal, and not a mere means to an end (interdependency), originate from our reaction to dependency… to have others control us, define us, use us, manipulate us and determine our choices.
Due to the fact that interdependence is a much misunderstood concept and because interdependency is normally treated as a synonym for dependency, we often find that people (for selfish reasons) would base their participation in “consensus conduct” on an independent oriented perspective. Resulting in an active attempt to “throw off the shackles“, “liberate themselves“, “asserting themselves” and “doing their own thing“.
Reality and life is by nature highly interdependent. Trying to achieve maximum efficiency through either dependence (you) or independence (me) is like trying to play tennis with a golf club. On the one hand the tool isn’t really suited to deal with the reality, and on the other you are extremely lucky when your are successful in hitting the ball. Interdependency is far more mature and emotionally advanced concept. Interdependency is a mind-set of we, a healthy maintained balance between dependency and independence (individual responsibility within group accountability) suited for that particular circumstances. For instance…
- When I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, BUT I also realize (&understand) that you and I, working together, could accomplish far more than even the best that I can accomplish on my own.
- If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of self-worth from within myself, BUT I also recognize the need for love, acceptance, giving and for receiving respect from others.
- When I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own thinking.
- If I am spiritually interdependent, I understand my unique contribution to make a real and lasting difference to my existing environment, founded in a respect for human diversity, a difference in opinion and a variety of perspectives. Accepting others for what and whom they are, without jeopardizing my own integrity, self-esteem and self-worth.
As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself (meaningfully and purposefully) with others, and I gain access to the virtually unlimited resources and potential of my fellow human race. However, interdependence is a choice only “independent” people can make. “Dependent” people cannot choose for interdependency, because they don’t have the attributes to do so, they lack self-awareness and don’t own enough of themselves.
Before we can efficiently apply consensus conduct in our life, families and/or workplace, we need to reaffirm or establish interdependency as a sound foundation for our belief structure, specially regarding cooperation, co-creation, sharing and negotiation. Thus, actively establishing, developing and maintaining a mind-set of less YOU have to succeed, less ME have to succeed and more WE have to succeed.