Adlt 610 #2: Coming up for Air

gopher-blog-illustrationI’ve been a gopher this semester.  I am busy working underground, digging tunnels and trying to connect this project with the concept of Flawless Consulting. I’ve been rather silent in the area of reflective practice and my blog. I find it difficult to provide concrete details about projects, individuals, situations and my reactions in a public space. I chose to make my blog visually accessible as a way in which to engage with others in a more authentic way. Being authentic is a very public space asks me to consider what I know about myself and the way in which I perceive and react to others. My struggle is an intervention that surrounds my need to protect and preserve the privacy of the client and the project while making my learning more visible to others.

Two of the tunnels through which I have traveled this semester-

Relationships- When engaging in the act of “Flawless Consulting,” Peter Block maintains that personal relationships are critical to technical and business success.  The need to know oneself as an individual is directly tied to being authentic (2011: xviii). Building relationships in my personal life is a value that I place above completing tasks and executing projects. In an academic setting, I struggle to consider how to balance the need to care about the client and build relationships with the need to complete the tasks of the course in a timely manner.  Authenticity, Block contends, presents its own share of frustrations and challenges.  “It swims upstream in a culture of control…it also demands some faith in ourselves; we have to be tuned into the feeling dimension of our connections with others” (2011:xix).

Our meetings are poised and controlled. A limited period of time is established, typically an hour at most, which is adhered to by client and consultants. While professional and technical, I find that authenticity is lacking in our conversations with our client. My consulting team works to ensure that time is given to the technical and business problems, goal #3 of The Consultant’s Goals (2011:20). The ability to manage the ambiguity between resistance to completing the work of the project and the development of lateral relationships is a continual challenge. If I consider Block’s reminder, that resistance means that something is going on, then I am also reminded that during the discovery and inquiry stage of the consulting phase, that resistance to sharing information must be identified and expressed (2011:42). Our team did so with care.

Failure to follow through on agreements, communication or requests on the surface resemble resistance. It was my understanding, as a consulting class,  that we eschewed the role of expert consultant over one of collaboration in order to practice process consultation. Knowledge of the organization has not been forthcoming on the part of the client.  It is a challenge to contribute the specialized knowledge we are developing when organizational understanding is lacking (2011:26). The timeframe, coupled, with the intervening behaviors and needs of my client challenge my schema for relationships.

Reframing- On numerous occasions, I’ve needed to step back and reframe my beliefs about listening and helping as a by-product of relationship building. Intervention is a concept that I’ve wrestled with through this consulting project. Personally, I needed to reframe my definition of intervention from that of a noun, an intervention. to that of a verb, to have an influence on what happens. The way in which my behavior, actions or reactions can influence what happens, in this case through process consultation, can frame the way my client reacts to the process that I am proposing. In reframing relationship building from a personal to a professional level, the need to care about the needs of the client does not change.  The reality of this project is that it is an instance to practice some of the behaviors of Flawless Consulting while understanding that it is not possible to process through each phase as thoroughly as I would in an actual consulting situation.

Resistance-The concept that we are never to be neutral, objective observers (2011:42) means that no matter how sticky the issue may be, I need to confront my own personal resistance to name it.  Block presents a clever technique to refocus and recover from being a player in the game of resistance.  Do I have the courage to act on my own doubts if I leave the Feedback meeting?

Something to chew on-dog-from-chewing-e1438880851338

When I fail to participate in the discussion, am I contributing to the overall problem?  

Is my lack of questioning behavior really a passive way to cover up my own resistance?  

Reference:  Block, P. (2011). Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used. John Wiley & Sons.

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4 thoughts on “Adlt 610 #2: Coming up for Air

  1. I once saw a funny painting at my child’s pediatrician’s office that had a caption that went something like this: “Once she discovered her reset button, she learned that nothing much ever bothered her after that.” Peter Block’s video in the link you provided reminded me of this quote- how we need to find a “reset” button in order to reframe how we look at the situation, access our doubt, and overcome resistance- the client’s, and our own.

    My favorite quote from the quick clip was “When we participate in the world, we change it” (or something like that!). Just another way of saying “everything is an intervention”, but WE are an intervention, for better and for worse, in our lives. We have a role to play in every relationship and situation, again, for better and for worse.

    This blog will help me immensely as I enter into our planning meeting this weekend for our feedback meeting. I will constantly try to be as self-aware as you have been throughout your difficult but important project (bravo to you! And condolences) and make sure that I have the courage to step back, assess my feelings, doubts, and actions, and press that reset button!

    Jennifer

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    1. Understanding how behaviors and actions become an intervention has certainly challenged me during this course. I’ve always been attuned to behavior from the stand point of understanding non-verbal behavior. Understanding one’s one contribution to a situation is vitally important to being a “Flawless Consultant.” I am so glad that I have taken this course before going into the capstone course. I know that what is fresh in my mind will be useful in the next encounter.

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  2. Laurie,

    Your two questions that you posed for yourself at the end of this post are very insightful and I think Schein -and therefore Block- are recommending asking these types of questions of ourselves! Since it sounds like you are a very intuitive, “interpersonal skills” person, you have most likely proceeded in these suggested mindful practices for quite some time, perhaps without really acknowledging that it IS a skill set. In fact, who is the guy who talks/writes about the 7 types of learners? and one of the types is this interpersonal learner? We don’t test for it in school, there are no SOLs for getting along well with your fellow humans or benchmarks for the ease in which you can see a situation from someone else’s point of view. If there were, you probably would’ve scored high!
    So, how do you think the client sees you if you don’t ask clarifying questions or speak very little during the conversation? Here’s one thing I will say….you have a gentle, kind tone of voice. Your speech is measured and never rude. Your thoughts that you share in class follow suit. Your questions you pose in class are intelligent and well formed. How can you NOT benefit the conversation?

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    1. I’ll be honest, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with the client. I selected the project initially for two reasons. One, I worked in the Dean of Student’s Office as well as the Summer Conference Office when I was an undergraduate. I loved the work and was interested in seeing what student activities would look like now. I also saw the client in a different light as a classmate. The client barked at me in one of the first meetings. She puts up a wall between us and is a little prickly. All of these behaviors may simply be defensive mechanisms-all interventions, as Block would remind us.

      I’ll try out some of the questions that I posed last night and let you know how they went next week.

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