We all have a tendency to communicate and behave in unique ways, particularly when under pressure or during a heated conversation. Some people avoid conflict at all costs while many prefer to take the reins of control. Others take the cautious route, meticulously examining all aspects of a situation before resolving any major decision. Does this sound like you? We refer to this type of person as “Interdependent.” In the workplace -- and at home -- the Interdependent person has a strong desire to collaborate, and aims to make sure everyone at the table is fully heard and accounted for. If you are Interdependent, you value trust and openness in your dealings with people; you share your knowledge generously and encourage others to do the same, and you remain engaged with people as you work to find a common ground, even when it is difficult to do so.
The Interdependent type can be a valuable member of a team or project due to their naturally cooperative spirit. Their collaborative approach to communication allows them to resolve problems, and carefully consider all sides of an issue before taking action. The Interdependent person thrives on teamwork, placing an emphasis on establishing “win-win” relationships with others. When two or more people are committed to this approach, a tremendous amount of work can be accomplished, conflicts can be resolved and breakthrough agreements may be realized.
However, as the saying goes, any strength overextended can become a weakness. Interdependent, highly accommodating people often have a difficult time letting go of an issue, particularly unfinished business between people. When in this state, the Interdependent person can also become attached to the idea of consensus, even when it might not be the most effective or efficient way to make group decisions. By staying focused on resolving different views and disagreements, people can view you as downplaying the severity of their feelings on an issue. As well, those who do not wish to share their thoughts and feelings may feel pressured by your persistence that they stay engaged.
Here are three ways to keep your Interdependent traits in check:
Try being more direct and decisive.
Sometimes it is best to cut to the chase and make a decision for another person or a group, as opposed to a lengthy consideration of every bullet point. Trust your intuition rather than subjecting everyone to the tyranny of consensus. Ironically, in some circumstances, you will find that the decision or outcome would have been roughly the same using your typically collaborative approach.
Quit while you are ahead.
While your ability to compromise is often exceptional when focused on the needs and desires of others, you may be overly concerned about leaving any small wins on the table for all parties concerned. Instead, focus on the 80/20 rule: if everyone is reasonably happy, conduct a process check to see if this is enough of a win-win to move forward. Sometimes, a “win enough” mindset is the most effective and reasonable.
When the stakes are low, let it go.
When the Interdependent approach is overused, the individual struggles to let go of issues, often to the point of exhaustion and frustration to themselves and others. In many cases, the most efficient use of your time is to simply allow the other party to have their way, without giving in to the temptation of contributing your views, your dissent, or interjecting your concerns. There is a sage adage that everything following the conjunction “but” (i.e., “yes that might be true, but…”) only serves to undermine the initial clause of agreement. So let the other party’s view win the day even if your natural inclination is to collaborate, or if you are concerned that they are making a mistake. If they want to know how you really feel, they will ask.