5 The other person

When meeting someone, you don’t only meet the person, you also meet the systems this person belongs to. Sometimes you don’t know which system you’re actually meeting.


I once trained a group of judges, they were also the managers of their court. The training was part of a management program. Each time I gave them instructions, I said: we need the manager part of you present, not the judge. As a judge you need to zoom in on details and facts, as a manager you have to zoom out and organize the connections.

The inner state of the person you’re working with can be very different from what you think or what is supposed to be. It’s the source of many conflicts. Therefore, listen with the question in mind: where does this answer come from? From what inner position?


the story continues…


Being a judge is one of those professions that becomes part of ones identity, just like being a doctor, journalist or politician. This identification often gets priority above other roles. It is the dominant system. This unconscious mechanism was at work continuously in the management training: first they responded as a judge, then as a manager. Weighing and judgment of the offered information came always first, it took the time which was meant to develop their leadership skills. In the example I made use of this knowledge by explicitly inviting them to be present as managers.