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OK, what did I just do? Did I invite you to collaborate with me — to read the text I am writing, to interact,… — or did I seduce you? Maybe I did a little bit of both?
Maybe “collaboration” sounds noble, maybe “seduction” sounds evil, … — but maybe they do not actually exist in reality. They are ideas, descriptions about how we behave, interact and communicate. There seem to be different ethics involved in both, but that may be too mathematical and formulaic. Maybe we should distance ourselves from calling one good, the other bad, etc.
Note also that even though I view these two ways of interacting as somewhat complementary (so in a sort of “glass half empty, half full” way, rather than being mutually exclusive), I also think that we should not get too fixated on this… because there are also many other ways to interact and communicate that will also enter the “communications mix”.
With all of those reservations, let me nonetheless reduce these two ways of behaving as if they were simply diametrically opposed. In this sense, whereas collaboration is about open and transparent communication, seduction is about underhanded trickery. Collaboration is about fairness, seduction is about “I win, you lose”. Collaboration is about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn floating down the river together, seduction is about Tom Sawyer selling the right to whitewash the picket fence. Collaboration is about mathematical precision and business planning, seduction is about playing a game.
Have I beaten the horse to death yet? Why am I so focused on this?
Because in this age, whereas collaboration is quintessentially 2.0, seduction is viewed as overhauled. Seduction is the insurance salesman ringing the doorbell, collaboration is… — what? In my opinion, collaboration is virtually nonexistent… because generally we did not grow up collaborating very much. Wikipedia, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Occupy,… these examples are viewed as revolutionary much more than they are viewed as examples of collaboration (indeed: there is probably also an element of seductive selling going on in these groups, too). But by and large: collaboration is viewed as new, maybe improved, maybe not, but in any case risky and unexplored. Seduction, on the other hand is written up in countless volumes of psychology and marketing literature.
So why not simply stick with a tried and true model? Well, one reason is: It no longer works as well as it used to. But perhaps another reason is: Perhaps you will feel better adding an ounce of collaboration to that pound of seduction you’ve got cooking in the pot. How would you communicate if you were to acknowledge that every transaction is a partnership, rather than a matter of one side reaping a profit while the other is suckered into being played for a fool?
My hunch is: First and foremost you would stop interrupting people with a song and dance act over and over day in and day out… — you might even shut up! Not totally, but perhaps you would stop pretending that some brand of product or service would make consumers happy if they buy it, and/or that it would make them happier if they buy more. Instead, you might simply state: “We care about communications skills — what do you care about? How might these things we care about interact with each other? Do our goals complement each other? If I wash your hand, will you wash mine?” … and so on.
I have a hunch that at this point in time, more collaboration is better — mainly because we are up to our eyeballs in seduction. What do you think?
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