It’s not easy to summarise the wonderful work of Chris Argyris. His work on mindsets, namely the Unilateral Control mindset and the Mutual Learning mindset, seems particularly difficult to summarise – and yet it’s so vitally important to anyone who works with other people.
Here’s my latest attempt, at approachable wording for the two mindsets.
Unilateral Control: (common, and counter-productive)
“Guess what they’re thinking.
Don’t trigger negative emotions.
Get them to do what you want”.
Mutual Learning: (works better)
” Test assumptions (about what they’re thinking)
Share valid information.
Seek well-informed agreement.”
How do you test your assumptions about what they’re thinking? By engaging in dialogue, with intent of sharing valid information (ie giving and receiving information) and by using your dialogue skills. The chapter of Crucial Conversations entitled “STATE Your Path”, is particularly useful regarding the skills.
(In this context, “unilateral” simply means “one sided” and “mutual” means “we’re all in this together”. )