My take on collusion (e.g. pleasing participants in developmental interventions) has been changing in the last few years.Â Â Â First, I was not aware at all that I may be doing it.Â Â Â Then, I became aware of it and saw it as a bad thing â€“ counter-learning. See previous post – Unconscious Collusion with Learners. I even sometimes found myself enjoying being an annoying consultant.Â Â Â But in the last year or two, things changed further.Â Â Collusion could be useful and sometimes even necessary for quality learning.Â Â Â It could be useful data to gain understanding into the unconscious.Â Â Â The article â€˜Petriglieri, G. & Wood, J.D. 2003. The invisible revealed: Collusion as an entry to the group unconscious.Â Transactional Analysis Journalâ€™ describes it well.Â Â Â And to a certain extent, it is almost necessary in building up the â€˜working allianceâ€™ â€“ a useful concept by Catherine Sandler in bookÂ â€˜Executive Coaching â€“ A Psychodynamic Approachâ€™
Recently, I heard of a coach with psychotherapy background who struggles with own tendency to quickly and persistently name the unconscious processing, instead of the interest in the person.Â Â Â I think of the case of â€˜zero collusionâ€™ i.e. a coach behaving always as an icy-cold analyst.Â Â Â He / she shows only a poker-face for projection and directly confront participants with hypothesis of the unconscious.Â Â Â
In a way, ‘zero collusion’ could be as â€˜badâ€™ as the case of â€˜full collusionâ€™.Â Â In fact, on reflection, it is not about how much the collusion is.Â Â Â It is about whether we know what is going on.Â Â Â To be specific:
- How much is the coach aware of the colluding acts?
- How much is the coach colluding to lower the clientâ€™s defense in order to better embrace change?
- How much is the coach even using the colluding acts, from both parties, as data for learning purpose?
The worst is that I collude (or not)â€¦ primarily to meet my own needs.Â Â For example, I please the client in order not to be disliked.Â Â Â Or I show no emotion / friendliness and only analyse in order to stay safe by intellectualizing everything.Â Â Â
Interestingly, or boringly :), it goes back to our own self-awareness as practitioners to help others develop.