Collaboration – Attitudes and Intentions

Attitudes and IntentionsThe first chapter of book we’ve selected for our Experiential Lean Coffee Book Club Mash Up, Radical Collaboration, dives into exploring our own attitudes and intentions.

I’ll cover that topic in detail in this post and later explore:

  • Maintaining awareness of ourselves, our default behavior patterns and intentions
  • Exploring ways to increase our ability to collaborate, problem-solve, and negotiate
  • Learning to build trust, overcome defensiveness, and seek constructive ways of getting things done

Feeling brave? Ask others for feedback on how you show up in your relationships. Click To Tweet

Chapter 1: Attitudes and Intentions

The authors provide a binary system of attitudes and intentions, which they call the Red and the Green zone.

The Red Zone / Green Zone concepts represent two polarities. Individuals who stay primarily in the green zone are able to maintain an authentic, non-defensive presence. One where collaboration is found through joint inquiry. While those in the Red Zone convey defensiveness, fear, aggression, and are often focused only on the short term.

Reality is not so neat and tidy with either/or, we move back and forth, sometimes with one foot in both zones. Nevertheless being self-aware and consciously managing our default pattern will help support our ability to build and maintain successful, long-term collaborative relationships.

Here’s how the two polarities play out.

A Person in the Green Zone

Individuals who in the green zone are able to maintain an authentic, non-defensive presence. Click To Tweet

• Takes responsibility for the circumstances of his or her life
• Seeks to respond nondefensively
• Is not easily threatened psychologically
• Attempts to build mutual success
• Seeks solutions rather than blame
• Uses persuasion rather than force
• Can be firm, but not rigid, about his or her interests
• Thinks both short term & long term
• Is interested in other points of view

Welcomes feedback
• Sees conflict as a natural part of the human condition
• Talks calmly & directly about difficult issues
• Accepts responsibility for consequences of his or her actions
• Continuously seeks deeper levels of understanding
• Communicates a caring attitude
• Seeks excellence rather than victory
• Listens well

A Person in the Red Zone

• Blames others for the circumstances of his or her life
• Feels threatened & wronged
• Responds defensively
• Triggers defensiveness in others
• Is rigid, reactive, & righteous
• Uses shame, blame, & accusations
• Is unaware of the climate of antagonism he or she creates
• Has low awareness of blind spots
• Does not seek or value feedback
• Sees others as the problem or enemy

• Sees conflict as a battle & seeks to win at any cost
• Does not let go or forgive
• Communicates high levels of disapproval & contempt
• Focuses on short-term advantage & gain
• Feels victimized by different points of view
• Is black / white, right / wrong in thinking
• Does not listen effectively

Who would you rather have a working relationship with?

Where do you stand?

One effective way to know which zone you are in for any given moment is to listen to your self-talk – the tone, the texture of that voice in your head that chatters away while you are doing your best to listen to what the other person is saying.

Red Zone Self-Talk Sounds Like

• This shouldn’t happen.
• They don’t care.
• I can’t handle this.
• Only a madman would see it that way.
• This is too much.
• How dare they

• This is unfair.
• They have no right.
• I should not have to deal with this.
• That’s stupid.
• This is about my survival.
• They are bad and evil
• They are out to get me.

Green Zone Self-Talk Sounds Like

• I don’t like this but I can handle it.
• I can take care of myself.
• This is curious.
• I can listen.
• I can deal with this.
• They have a right to a different viewpoint.

• I need more information.
• I can support myself.
• This is not about “me.”
• That’s different.
• I am not the proposal, idea, or suggestion
• What do I want to happen next?

Another indicator of which zone you are operating in is your bodily sensations
  • In the Red Zone you might feel numb, cold, frantic, clammy, excessively hot, charged up, or jumpy.
  • In the Green Zone you would feel more centered, calm, alive, alert, and attentive.

Assessment Exercise

If you still aren’t sure where you tend to spend the most of your time (Red or Green), here’s an assessment.


Pick ten words or phrases out of the list – ones that you fell generally describe you and how you think you conduct yourself in your relationships.

If you are feeling brave, ask others to give you feedback on how they feel you show up in your relationship with them. Do you live mostly in a Red Zone? or the more collaborative Green Zone?

Learn to build trust, overcome defensiveness, and seek constructive ways of getting things done. Click To Tweet

Next: Chapter 2 – Hey Buzz Off: I am not Defensive!

For more background on the topic of Radical Collaboration see this TED talk

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