See a two-part conversation between Janet & Stephanie reflecting on their 37-year collaboration. These are the third & fourth posts on this blog-of-the-month theme of Making Collaboration Work.
At the 2010 SCN National Memoir Conference in Austin Janet gave a workshop on how to Put
Story Poems in Your Memoir Tool Box. You can listen to her discussing story
poems on the SCN podcast: http://is.gd/9xpv5
At the 2010 SCN National Memoir Conference in Austin Janet gave a workshop on how to Put Story Poems in Your Memoir Tool Box. You can listen to her discussing story poems on the SCN podcast: http://is.gd/9xpv5Collaboration: Trust Floats the Boat
Trust, at the core of collaboration, is a heart skill needed for emotional intelligence and effective joint work. Sure, you need a work partner who balances your skills and temperament. But without trust, it ain’t gonna work.
How do you build trust?
Personal trust begins with common points of reference. It’s often a shared experience or sensibility. When you share a wider passion, your work becomes an extension of friendship and respect, and vice versa.
For example, Stephanie and I are the
same—only different. We look different, have different lifestyles, were brought
up differently in different parts of the country.
At first blush you might not think that we would ever be friends, much less collaborators. Truth be told, we didn’t become true friends until some years after we met in Ghana. Over 37 years we’ve translated our relationship from Ghana to New Mexico and continued as I moved to California and then to Missouri. Thank goodness for email and wide-area calling!
Our common sensibilities and core values allow us to bridge our differences. Our decidedly quirky sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
How do you sustain trust?
Beyond trusting each other on a personal level, sustaining trust in a collaboration relies on the indispensable ingredients of a shared work ethic, sense of purpose, and discipline. In effective collaborations both partners share goals, desire quality work, and respect one another. Both need to be committed to seeing the job through to its mutually agreed-upon end, no matter what.
In any collaborative project, each partner
brings her own strengths and skills to the table. In the best of circumstances,
these interlock with and complement each other. Partners often find that one is
better suited for a certain task. This makes the division of responsibility
logical, even easy. When partners are equally adept, or when a task appeals to
both, the key is to parcel out tasks fairly and to the satisfaction of both
partners. Fairness and successfully solving a problem jointly bolster
The shared quality of stick-to-itiveness generates a history of reliability. You can trust that your partner will be there with you from beginning to end of the project. Together you build a strong track record.
Trust is the vessel that holds the messiness and chaos of creative collaboration. If you’re gonna float your boat, you don’t want it to leak.
Out next post on collaboration (5.3) will guide you to check your ego at the door as you explore further the emotional and relational side of collaboration. What does trust look like in action?
Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog in the comment section below. Peruse the Creative Catalyst archive at: http://is.gd/9xolA. Create connections through the arts and across cultures at www.riehlife.com.