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Collaborating with the Enemy

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Collaborating with the Enemy

How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust


15 minutes de lecture
10 points à retenir
Audio et texte


While “collaboration” may have a bad reputation, sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.

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Collaboration is essential in today’s workplace, but you may have to work with people whom you dislike and who dislike you. Social enterprise expert Adam Kahane, who has spent 25 years helping groups around the world negotiate seeming irreconcilable differences, explains how to work with those you’d rather avoid, achieve your goals and maybe even make peace. He discusses when, how and why collaboration works and warns against its pitfalls. getAbstract recommends his well-organized manual to anyone who must find common ground where none seems to exist.



At home, in your company and in your industry, you must collaborate. This includes working with relatives as well as colleagues that you may not like – or may even hate – and who may dislike or hate you in return. Sometimes you must collaborate with your enemies to achieve mutual goals.

Disparate groups often face the challenge of having to resolve apparently nonnegotiable differences, even when the groups’ members distrust each other. Consider how political enemies collaborated successfully in South Africa in the late 20th century. President F.W. de Klerk and political activist Nelson Mandela came together to end apartheid and transform South Africa into a democracy. Though the South African government had imprisoned Mandela for years, he and the government reconciled their differences to achieve a greater good for their nation.

However, collaboration may not work in every situation. If it doesn’t, the possible participants must select a default position among three alternatives:

  1. “Forcing” – People wield this power move when they think they can unilaterally impose their ideas and solutions. They think...

About the Author

Adam Kahane is a director and co-founder of Reos Partners, an international social enterprise. He has worked in more than 50 countries with executives and politicians, generals and guerrillas, civil servants and trade unionists, community activists and clergy.

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