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Collaboration is the KEY

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imageJust finished reading a scientific magazine that captured my interest in my recent airport travels. There were lots of great articles about our brain and belief systems, the global warming concerns, and the physics of our brain’s intelligence. Each article had one theme in solving some of the challenges and that theme was collaboration of open-minded minds. We need each other so we can listen to and be encouraged to think of new or other ways to solve problems (that two minds are much better than one and so on). The same can be said to solve our global warming problems and such - there are many wonderful minds out there that can help us all. Our minds can only do so much due to the fact that our brains are only so big apparently and we need each other to make bigger and better decisions and positive changes. (If you are interested in the magazine I read, please let me know and I’ll send it to you.)

I started to think about how collaboration strengthened our family unit (for those who do not know from previous articles, my father is getting at-home hospice care and I’ve been in Florida helping my mother provide the basic care and to keep him as comfortable as possible to the end). We are receiving all kinds of help from the care givers and they are all about collaboration. They have a team leader, a nurse, and three or four certified assistants, who ask questions, notice family dynamics, bring up the difficult topics, take the time to explain and insist everyone gets involved as much as possible. They have collaboration figured out!

Collaboration of thoughts and ideas has kept us going as a species and in this time of extremism, lack of tolerance, and apathy, there is no better time to practice this wonderful skill or trait. I constantly have to remind myself that I am not alone and there are people out there to help me. I should have realized this as I work with a great team and we collaborate all the time. Family dynamics are a bit different and more difficult, I feel, because there’s almost always baggage from years gone by or misunderstandings in most families that I know of anyway. I’m always hearing things like, “My family is so dysfunctional!”  It’s my belief that a lack of collaboration in the family unit may be one of the problems.

Here are some ways that may help others to join in collaborating with you on new ideas or solving problems (works on family or friends and of course coworkers):

  • Ask plenty of questions (without sounding like you are interviewing or interrogating) when you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right.  Example:  “Mom, can we talk about the use of bleach on the surfaces around the house?  Have you tried other products like…?”  I wanted so badly to just buy the less harmful cleaners and introduce them to her “after” the fact.  That would have defeated the purpose of collaboration.  Instead I asked the questions and we were able to talk about safer ways to clean and she asked for my help in getting them.
  • When I offer an idea or suggestion, I now ask, “What do you think?  Is there anything you can suggest that may work out better?  I’m all ears!”  Asking folks what they think tends to encourage them to think and contribute to the problem at hand.
  • Ask others to join in a family (or team) collaboration and set up some ground rules if this seems like a good approach.  Some folks will say that this may not work for their family, but I’m optimistic about the process at least for my family.  I’ve gotten closer to all my siblings because I’ve collaborated with them on most everything that needs attention when faced with a dad who is leaving us.  Our family stretches from Maine to Florida and we manage to communicate on all the important decisions and I couldn’t be more proud of them right now.  Are we perfect?  Absolutely not, but we respect each and continue to keep in mind that we are all in this together. 

Please feel free to send comments or feedback...Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful summer!

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Lorraine Twombly
Priority Learning



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