Some folks in my line of work think that “collaboration” is an ultimate and absolute value. Nuh-uh. Sometimes it’s time to call it. The best thing for some people in conflict may be to disengage.

My wife worked for an airline owned by a person who was larger-than-life. He was at the airport and overheard an obnoxious customer verbally abusing a gate agent. The man was demanding his way asserting “the customer is always right!” The owner approached the counter and addressed the man: “The customer is always right, but that doesn’t mean you have to be my customer.” He then told him not to fly on his airline anymore.

The cost in time, effort and money that it would take to make a collaboration effective may be too great for the likely benefit. In relationships people grow apart. At those times disengagement may be a very valid strategy.

“The squeaking wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.” – Vic Gold

I know people in my business who are as knee-jerk about collaboration as some in my former work are about litigation. Either way, their professional recommendations are driven more by their ideology rather than what the client believes is most important.

There may a cost to disengaging; most choices in these matters do have their effects. So knowing when to engage and collaborate, or to disengage and withdraw, is an important decision. It requires clear-eyed discernment. You don’t want to mistake a momentary emotional frustration for a clear assessment that the outcome is not worth it. They are two very different circumstances. A mediator can help you find your answer to that question.

photo credit: El Bibliomata via photo pin cc

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