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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Keep Your Head Underground: The Fear of Stakeholder Engagement

This paper is a case study that highlights the risks of not engaging effectively with stakeholders; the effect this has on relationships as distrust increases, and how fear of showing vulnerability impedes engagement. Stories, myths and metaphors have been used throughout history as a means of symbolically expressing aspects of organizational life that are troublesome and perhaps difficult to verbalise. In this paper I will use a fairy tale as a tool for enabling group members to understand the systemic dynamics influencing their ability to work together. I invite you to think about the psychodynamics influencing the ability to engage - engagement with residents in this case study, and engagement and collaboration between the project team. It will be useful also to think about the risks of engaging as a consultant to organizations and how we can work with this in mind to bring the best we can to the task.