Dyads or Triads?

Does your organization prefer Dyads or Triads? One-on-ones can be very productive and comfortable to exchange information. In the intimacy of our shared office, I can talk with that colleague sitting across from me. That feels safe if I trust her. I can discuss my insecurities or doubts about a project and she could coach me. (I won’t if I suspect that she will tell the other team members or our supervisor.)

We could even use our conversation to gossip about the others – if we trust each other not to disclose this squander. Even though gossip is not constructive for the culture, it might feel beneficial for the two of us. It offers bonding when we find another who agrees with us.

Dyads feel private

Such a one-on-one conversation can feel safe because there are no observers. It is a “Dyad”, a concept introduced by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright in their book Tribal Leadership.

We have privacy, we connect, we might expose our vulnerabilities and help each other. But even if we disagree after our conversation afterward, we are safe because it’s her word against mine. In the privacy of the Dyad no one can check what we concocted.

But what would we do if there was a third person in the room? Would we still coach each other? Would we still gossip? We might – depending on what is acceptable in our culture.

Three people create another dynamic. It’s as if the third person brings the culture, the whole organizational system, and the world into the room. There is a permanent “observer” position added to the “I” and “you” position.

This fascinates me. I’ve seen it happen time and again in my consulting work, for instance when we break out in Dyads to find typical behaviors that represent the current culture. Two people sometimes chat as if in a happy hour instead of doing what I asked them, or find typical bad behaviors of others and start gossiping. A Triad might be faster and more objective in finding the typical behaviors that make up the culture!

Do you talk differently about people when they are not present? Click To Tweet

The third also brings morality to the room as it becomes easier to stick to the ethic rule to “speak only about someone as if he were listening”. Do you talk differently about people when they are not present? If so, you are human. But Triads can help us develop our Best Selves that are both respectful, honest, and helpful.

Dave Logan e.a. recommend upgrading your culture by stimulating Triads because they are fast, and enhance both trust and innovation. Next time you meet a colleague, can you invite a third person?

This is book post #66 – Part “WE”

For more insights and advice, order my book Developing a Positive Culture

Check out the online Positive Culture Academy. Let’s be Positive Agents who do revolution by evolution: one interaction at a time, one person at a time. Subscribe to the Academy’s mailing list so I can keep you posted!

Here’s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post
If you’re confused, check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for September 2018! More information and registration is only a mouse click away.

© Copyright Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply